A guide to
Future-proofing your
industrial business in
the 21st century
(And why it’s necessary)

Fast forward to find out how you
can future proof your business.

Whether you are new in the business world, a start-up with growing pains or a multi-national conglomerate, your business is vulnerable to threats. This can range from falling behind on technological advancements, growing competition, political turbulence, lack of demand, financial issues or the threat of economic downturn.

It’s hard to pick out the mountains from the molehills, and quite often these scenarios are beyond our own control. DuroVac put together a detailed guide on how you can make sure your business is as resistant to change as it can be for future years.

AI and Machine Learning

Research by the US Government has found that AI is capable of doubling the economic growth of the 12 countries in the study (including the US) by 2035. The industrial and engineering sector is named amongst those most likely to be disrupted by AI and machine learning:


Farming / agriculture

Mining & energy

Call centers

Customer experience


Intellectual property

IT service and management

Technical support


Software development

However, this is not necessarily bad news. The following sectors were deemed ”future-proof” by entech due to the bright forecast in job opportunities.

Forecasted engineering jobs that are considered future-proof:

Engineering Job

Projected Employment Change

Expected no. of new Jobs

Solar Photovoltaic Installer



Wind Turbine Service Technicians



Software Developers & Engineers



Biomedical Engineers



Chemical Engineers



Civil Engineers



Electrical and Electronics Engineers



Environmental Engineers



Industrial Engineers



Marine Engineers and Naval Architects



Petroleum Engineers






Information Security Analysts



Computer and Information Research Scientists



Data Source: entech

Robots and Automation

Studies have found that a massive 25 percent of American jobs are at a high risk or under threat from the automation from technology. That’s 37,857,750 jobs.

Those expected to be hit the most severely are low-wage male workers.













65 and older


(Data sourced from Brookings Institution)

It’s clear that there’s a growing concern amongst American workers, with an average of 22,800 searches of ”Will AI take my job a year” in Google U.S. Another 12,000 Americans per year search for artificial intelligence courses.

Technological Advancements

As technology progresses at an alarming rate, businesses are having to act fast to future-proof their operations in order to remain competitive. Whether this means taking on new technologies, going green or transitioning to AI, business owners have a lot to think about for future years.

Skill Shortage

Research shows that in 2018, U.S. unemployment rates were at the lowest recorded point in nineteen years, and the global talent shortage had the potential to reach 85.2 million people by 2013. That translates to $8.5 trillion in unrealized revenue and millions of jobs left unfilled.

Each day, nearly 10,000 baby boomers reach their retirement date leaving highly technical positions unfilled.

The U.S. manufacturing industry will have over 3.5 million jobs that need to be filled by 2025. 2 million of these are expected to remain unfilled.

Steps for future-proofing your business

So, with all of this going on, what can you do?

The business landscape is constantly shifting. Change is inevitable. However, there are some steps you can take to put your business in the best position moving forward.

Re-evaluate your business model

Avoid relying on the success of one area of your business. Look at your business model and identify whether it is flexible for changes in innovation, industry regulation, technology and economic shifts.

What would these technological changes mean for your business and you? Change needs to be administered from the roots of your company upwards. If your business model isn’t flexible, you could be at a risk of losing competitive advantage.

Nokia was founded in 1865 in Finland as a pulp mill, and through a long history of smart decisions is now one of the globe’s most recognizable telecommunications and consumer electronics companies. Amazon started out as an online book retailer, and now they are known for selling pretty much everything with fast, convenient shipping options.

Cyber security

There’s more to cyber threats than someone hacking into your email. Customer data, your supply chain and commercially sensitive data can all be at risk. Look at how prepared your business would be in the incident of a cyber-attack. Do you have a strategy in place?

Between 2015 and 2017, there was a 29% increase in vulnerabilities for industrial control systems (Symantec).

Kapersky Lab identifies the following as emerging cyber security challenges in the industrial sector:

  • The complexity of new software and hardware devices is continuing to increase making it harder to spot vulnerabilities that could potentially be exploited by hackers.
  • Frameworks which ensure government and CIA compliance of devices (and software) often don’t consider how secure this leaves a device/software. This can often leave systems in vulnerable positions.

Stay up-to-date on educational trends

Keep an eye on emerging trends in higher education studies and the skill sets of those graduating from college. Humanity is in the 4th industrial revolution, so the business/engineering environment is changing at a rapid pace, which calls for changes in how we approach higher education.

A recent study from Deloitteidentifies the four most important trends in higher education in 2019:

  • Cloud readiness
  • Strategic risk management
  • Identify and access management
  • Mergers and acquisitions

With that in mind, ensure your business is not only relying on new hires to boost existing skill sets, but also expanding them into new areas. In the words of Elon Musk: “If someone graduated from a great university, that may be an indication that they will be capable of great things, but it’s not necessarily the case.” Be sure to prioritize the skills learned over the prestige of the college you’re sourcing new hires from.

Invest heavily in employee training to fill the skill gap

Do you offer learning and development perks as part of your employee package? Are your employees aware of the career progression opportunities at your company? Companies should encourage a continuous learning culture within their organization so employees feel valued and supported in their career development. This also helps companies stay ahead of the skill shortage and prepare for those who are ready to retire.

Focus on what your customers have to say and study their online behaviors

Listen to your customers and join the conversation online. Take advantage of the vast amount of digital software and tools available. Analyze user behavior, where they are the most engaged, what could be improved.

One easy way to do this is using Google’s free Analytics platform to monitor how visitors interact with your online content. How long are they spending looking at specific products? Which pages sell the most? What devices are they using? What time of day shows the most activity from potential customers?

Knowledge is key. Do your research

As obvious as this sounds, it is key for business owners to keep up-to-date with emerging trends. That includes traditional news outlets to stay on top of any political or economic changes on the horizon (such as a potential global recession or a “no deal” Brexit).

A good place to start is Bill Gates’ blog, where he frequently posts about recommended reading that he’s been doing to stay ahead of the game. You can find it here:

Bill Gates says he reads an average of 1 book per week. You can find nearly 200 books recommended on his personal blog. Inc. also handpicked the 6 leadership books that made it to Gates’ list of recommendations.

Network, network, network

There’s no better place to learn than from those in the industry. Attend meetups, conferences and events. Not only does this help identify opportunities for building relationships and potential partnerships, it’s a great way to hearing about new ventures and emerging technologies within the industry. It’s also a great way of spreading the word about your business and meeting new potential recruits.

You can find an array of industrial and engineering events here.

Embrace change

Change is inevitable. The U.S. currently ranks 6th in the WIPO Innovation Index. Ultimately, it’s easier to travel in a progressive direction than fight against emerging technologies and situations beyond your control.

In the spring of 2015, New York cab drivers provided 13 million monthly trips around the city, while Uber only made 2 million trips per month. In summer 2017, the ride-sharing startup overtook the established taxi companies when it reached 8 million monthly trips. As of summer 2019, Uber does 14 million monthly rides compared to the taxis’ 6 million. Regardless of the various moves to limit and slow the company’s growth, it succeeded in building up its customer base through convenience and adaptability.

Key threats to business
the years:

Source: Allianz Risk Barometer 2012-2019