For a while now there has been a real buzz in the manufacturing, IT and engineering businesses that I’ve been working with about the preparing for the digital revolution, and the opportunities and competitive challenges that it will bring.
It seems a bit of a no-brainer that digital technology will continue to redefine how we do business, and the term Industry 4.0, also known as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ is becoming more prolific.
The World Economic Forum describes 4.0 as follows:
“The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”
All aspects of businesses and government are being transformed, from the supply chain through to production processes and ultimately how the customer experiences the product and service experience. Factors such as the internet of things, AI, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing are being used simultaneously and in combination to drive efficiency, improve environmental impact and radically change the human experience of business, products and services both at home and at work.
All this is having some potentially positively brilliant results:
- Production is becoming leaner, more efficient and less wasteful.
- The pace of change and the availability of technology are driving innovation.
- Millions of customers all over the world will benefit from a more personalised, responsive product and service experience.
- People at work could have fewer repetitive tasks and the opportunity to upskill and spend time on more value adding activities.
- Sustainability is likely to be greater as supply chains go more virtual.
Technology, engineering and manufacturing leaders, along with the world’s largest management consultants, have published white papers, strategies and studies on what Industry 4.0 means for the future, and what needs to be done now to get ready for it.
This is an opportunity that businesses in other sectors – retail, utilities, service industries – could make much more of. Industry 4.0 is much more than having a reasonable app and mobile responsive website!
I remember how “LEAN” thinking started in manufacturing, and how long it seemed to take before the concept transferred and became embedded in other sectors. Industry 4.0 is too big a thing for organisations of all types, sizes and ages to miss out on. The opportunity to improve business models and customer experience is too great, and a lot of the technology is within reach in terms of development, affordability and availability. To differentiate and compete is essential, and being inspired by Industry 4.0 beyond the obvious, and making it happen sooner rather than later, could unlock significant growth potential for your company in the short term and the years ahead.
I love business, innovation and seeing people and companies succeed. If you would like to think differently and learn more about digital potential to lead, create and grow, give me a call, and I will share my thoughts and ideas on what you could think about for your business. No fee, invoice or anything. Just a decaff soya latte when we bump into each other at a train station or airport somewhere!