Not to put too fine a point on it, but the world's top 2,500 business leaders, international political leaders, selected intellectuals, and journalists met at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world, of which, Industry 4.0 was front and center.
Industry 4.0 has been compared to the previous three industrial revolutions of 1784, 1870 and 1969, yet digital transformation will be unlike anything experienced before, with the likely speed, scope and impact disrupting every industry and consumer market across the globe.
We are now at an inflection point, driven by the ubiquity of both mobile and connected devices linking billions of people around the world, coupled with emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive Internet of Things, Big Data, 3D printing, nanotechnology, autonomous vehicles and energy storage (amongst numerous others), and it is creating a new framework for industries and consumers alike.
Sensors, hardware, data and cognitive platforms will be seamlessly integrated along the value chain right up to, and including, the end consumer. This effectively provides for a ‘closed-loop’ ecosystem that connects to data centers, where millions of computer servers manage all that information. Add in AI, and you now have (near) real time data singularity that sends back commands to help deliver a truly customer centric offering.
Implemented correctly, this will provide significant competitive advantages to industry by:
- Improving executive strategies as algorithms analyze big data
- Enabling new business and/or operating models
- Enhancing capital and resource efficiency with ‘sell-to-produce’ and just-in-time logistics
- Facilitating personalization of both product and service experiences never seen before in the consumer space, where friction is removed and brand ‘stickiness’ is decisive.
In summary, the Industry 4.0 opportunity is not simply about how technology is incorporated into your business proposition, but how you use technology to re-imagine business to take a leadership position in customer value creation.