The continuing evolution of the Global Lighthouse Network

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The Global Lighthouse Network is a World Economic Forum initiative in collaboration with McKinsey. It examines the future of operations and considers how Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies are shaping production. This growing community of organizations is setting the trends of the future with their use of digital and analytics tools across the value chain to drive growth and productivity, improve resilience, and deliver environmental sustainability.

December 2023—The leading edge of production

The Global Lighthouse Network has grown almost tenfold since its inception, from 16 to 153 Lighthouses. Each is recognized for its leadership in leveraging advanced technologies and strategies to drive growth, improve resilience, and deliver environmental sustainability. Ninety-nine are Factory Lighthouses, driving transformations within the four walls of a particular production site, while 54 are End-to-End (E2E) lighthouses, deploying technologies for impact across their value chains. And 17 of those are also Sustainability Lighthouses, demonstrating exemplary use of technology for emissions, waste, and water reduction.

In December 2023, the Network is welcoming a cohort of 21 Lighthouses, 16 of which are Factory Lighthouses and five of which are E2E Value Chain Lighthouses. In addition, four Sustainability Lighthouses have been recognized for their outstanding use of technology to reduce their environmental footprint on top of their prior Lighthouse designations.

These latest additions offer a glimpse into the future of advanced manufacturing and value chains; together, they comprise the leading edge of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The main trends among them include an unprecedented level of digital maturity, the rapid proliferation of machine intelligence, and transformation programs that execute at-scale deployments from the outset.


Henry Bristol is a consultant in McKinsey’s Dallas office, as well as a platform fellow at the World Economic Forum; Enno de Boer is a senior partner in the New Jersey office; and Rahul Shahani is a partner based in New York.


January 2023—The scaling imperative continues

By Francisco Betti, Enno de Boer, Vincent Desnos, and Yves Giraud

The second chapter of the Fourth Industrial Revolution continues amid global disruption, marked by the increasing impact of climate change, inflation, soaring energy prices, supply chain volatility, and talent shortages. Confronting these challenges successfully requires manufacturers to meet a new scaling imperative not only within their own networks but also in collaboration up and down the entire value chain.

It’s known that for any production network to succeed economically and sustainably, it must succeed both locally and globally. Members of the Global Lighthouse Network have crystallized how 4IR technology and working models can help companies succeed at both levels while being more resilient to a future reshuffling of production networks.

The newest members of the Global Lighthouse Network—bringing the total to more than 130—are engaging in transformation at scale, building and maintaining momentum.


Enno de Boer is a senior partner in McKinsey’s New Jersey office; Vincent Desnos is an expert in the Lyon office; and Yves Giraud is a senior expert in the Geneva office and a platform fellow at the World Economic Forum. Francisco Betti is head of advanced manufacturing and value chains at the World Economic Forum and a member of its executive committee.

October 2022—Opening the second chapter of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

By Francisco Betti, Enno de Boer, Vincent Desnos, and Yves Giraud

The newest members of the Global Lighthouse Network—11 new sites and four new sustainability lighthouses—are the embodiment of the success of this approach to deliver scaling as a new chapter of the Fourth Industrial Revolution begins.

Their stories reflect dramatic performance and sustainability improvements that reflect not only shrewd deployments of technology, but also a consistent focus on developing people’s skills and building the strategy and governance to support scalability. The following are among the highlights:

  • Reducing resource use by more than one-third while more than tripling factory throughput
  • Raising efficiency by more than 10 percent, cutting greenhouse-gas emissions in half, raising and at the same time improving quality—and in so doing, becoming the transformation template for a network of more than three dozen plants
  • Raising quality by 300 percent while reducing cost by more than 20 percent and emissions by more than one-quarter—for increased resilience in the face of inflationary pressure on inputs and erosion of pricing leverage
  • Increasing customer satisfaction and employee engagement while reducing material losses by more than three-quarters—and establishing a 4IR-enabled circular economy for electronic waste, enhancing long-term competitiveness

These breakthroughs illustrate that even at the Global Lighthouse Network, the opportunity and urgency for manufacturers to take action is growing even more quickly. The 114 Lighthouses provide a starting point for others to follow.

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