Over the past few centuries, society has undergone several Industrial Revolutions where improved productivity was the main focus. Each one introduced different kinds of innovations like mechanized fabric making, product standardization, and digital communications. Certainly, they were different in terms of what they brought to the societal table. Yet, they all had one thing in common: They enabled exciting methods of workforce efficiency on unparalleled scales.
Today, we’re nestled somewhere around the Fourth or Fifth Industrial Revolution. As a result, efficiency and its cousin, productivity, have arisen as hallmarks of successful companies. Indeed, top organizations like Apple and Microsoft do things better, faster, and cheaper than competitors.
As a result, these companies are frequently used as examples in business school curricula. When have you heard of “the greats” without hearing of Apple and Microsoft? Moreover, these businesses’ efficiencies continue to keep them in leading positions worldwide and force other organizations to keep up — or get left behind.
For instance, Amazon has mastered what is coined McDonaldization. That is, Amazon’s workplace engine runs like that of a fast-food chain. How so? People get exactly what they want when they want it at an affordable price.
No matter where an individual is under Amazon’s reach, they can expect the same level of service. The system is efficiency-in-action — and it turns consumers into loyalists. The Amazon example provides other businesses with the inspiration and impetus to boost their own company productivity ratings.
Leaning into efficiency — even when it’s a tough sell
Of course, becoming efficient isn’t simple and doesn’t come without growing pains. If it did, every startup or enterprise would run like clockwork without minimal amounts of time, human resources, or financial waste.
Efficiency takes tremendous planning, work, and dedication, right down to the individual level, which is why some sectors historically have lagged behind. Not anymore, though. Plenty of industries are finally embracing the realization that efficiency will bring myriad opportunities.
At the same time, business leaders have realized that an efficient culture doesn’t have to be robotic. Productivity can be fun and rewarding. Workers don’t necessarily disengage just because their employer values productivity. Instead, they can start to see themselves as part of the solution. Plus, if they can help cut out waste, they may see personal gains like a shorter workweek.
Improved productivity in industries not known for productivity
So which industries are becoming known for adopting more efficient processes? The following five are finding and testing exciting ways to boost productivity.
Industry #1. Media and entertainment
Video game development may be a thriving field. Nonetheless, companies have had trouble finding workers to fill roles. Part of the problem is that the technologies needed to produce games evolve rapidly. Consequently, job candidates who graduated a few years ago may not have impressive resumes or appropriate credentials.
Credentials within each market have to be updated, and some workers have not taken that opportunity — leading to problems with efficiency within video game developing companies. Why? The companies are struggling to put workers into positions.
Fortunately, the industry has found a workaround that’s both efficient and effective. As Gearbox Entertainment president Randy Pitchford has explained while on the speaking circuit, “hiring for aptitude could transform this industry.” Pitchford has seen how recruiting people with the right cultural fit, determination, and spatial skills can have more bottom-line effects than hiring someone for background alone.
Understanding gaming industry needs and the unique way of sourcing tomorrow’s gaming performers has allowed Gearbox and other entities to get projects to market (and consumers hungry for entertainment) faster than ever before.
Industry #2. Education
Although education has experienced improved productivity with the advent of technologies like the computer and the Internet, it’s still antiquated. Still, it’s undergone a bit of metamorphosis during Covid due to the rise in online learning. And that’s opened the door for education advocates, administrators, educators, and parents to discuss revamping the educational process.
Take grading systems, for instance. Instructure, the maker behind Canvas, conducted a research study during the pandemic. The study showed that about half of educational setting stakeholders felt that students were falling behind. At the same time, plenty of respondents felt the way to help kids and teens recovery shouldn’t include high-stakes testing.
Instead, 76% of teachers felt that formative assessments were better to determine if students were progressing. So if formative assessments become mainstream, they may help teachers more efficiently bring all students to a standard level.
Industry #3. Healthcare
Medicine, in general, hasn’t always been the pinnacle of productivity. How many stories have we all heard about long waits to get from the lobby to the exam room? Or the inability to schedule an appointment within three months, especially with a specialist?
These hiccups have made healthcare a place fraught with frustrations for all parties. In other words, it’s the perfect zone for a focus on improved productivity.
Healthcare has enjoyed an efficiency renaissance recently thanks to integrated healthcare portals. Many of the larger hospitals and healthcare systems are creating centralized places for records, communication, billing, insurance, and more.
By streamlining all documentation and giving patients more immediate access, providers are improving their service. They’re also putting power in the hands of patients who can schedule emotional wellness telemedicine visits and pay their bills online.
Industry #4. Retail
Consumers fell out of favor with brick-and-mortar shopping during Covid. Instead, they tended to do most of their purchasing online through sites and apps. Though they’ve returned to their favorite retailers now that they can, they’ve altered their buying behaviors.
More than ever, they value efficient interchanges — and don’t necessarily want to spend hours browsing or waiting in lines. Instead, they want the speed that can only come from highly efficient workflows.
To satisfy the public’s needs, retailers have made several efficiency changes. For one, lots have added self-service kiosk checkouts. Others have bumped up their digital spaces, adding buy-now, pick-up-in-store choices.
More retail companies are promising curbside delivery with prepayment. Not surprisingly, shoppers are taking advantage of these current opportunities to get what they want faster.
Industry #5. Real Estate
Who would have thought that real estate would take off during and after the pandemic? It happened, though. Even during the strictest lockdown periods, people found ways to connect with realtors and virtually visit properties. As soon as they could, they snatched up residential and commercial deals–sending Zestimates soaring sky-high.
Until the middle of 2021, the housing market kept going up and up. The higher prices delighted everyone, from agents to sellers to investors. But, at the same time, it highlighted the need for improved productivity with so many people clamoring to enter into the real estate market.
Even though buyers and sellers can once again meet in person, they’re not stuck doing real estate the same way. Realtors and realty companies have begun to use the web more effectively. They’re exploring ways to ramp up efficiency from streamlining documentation through online e-signature portals to showcasing even luxury properties online.
Some are even testing the waters with augmented and virtual reality. The more they can get a potential buyer to connect with available properties, the faster they can close a sale.
Some experts say that we’ve entered into the Fifth Industrial Revolution. Others say we’re only on its cusp. A few are looking forward to predicting the Sixth Industrial Revolution, which could be a combination of AI and biotech.
Regardless of which Industrial Revolution is upon us, all organizations and industries can benefit from an upsurge of innovation, adaptability, and efficiency.