How Industry 4.0 is accelerating business

The fourth industrial revolution promises the biggest structural change of the past 250 years. We asked Henrik von Scheel, best known as the originator of Industry 4.0, to share his thoughts on what this means for business

Lindsay James
Lindsay James
By Lindsay James on 30 December 2019
How Industry 4.0 is accelerating business

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2019 issue of The Record. Subscribe for FREE here to get the next issues delivered directly to your inbox.

How will Industry 4.0 impact the way that we do business? 
In its scale, scope and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has ever experienced before. It alters the way in which companies are going to operate as well as the relationship between suppliers, customers and other third parties. There are going to be many more interactions between all those parties. One of the most relevant advantages is going to be the amount of data that is being generated, and that can be used to adapt to changes rapidly, or even to anticipate these changes. 

What do organisations need to consider to ensure they benefit from these changes? 
The connected ecosystem that is being built has many benefits and taking advantage of these is going to generate a competitive edge. What many don’t consider is that the crux of Industry 4.0 is people, not technology. Ever since the first caveman shaped a flint, humanity has defined itself by the ability to equip itself with tools to manage its environment. The Industry 4.0 era will be no different. 

What skills will firms need to foster? 
We are moving into an era where mindset is more important than skills. This is not to say that skills are not important anymore. But the mindset will be our ability to adopt, collaborate and bridge cross-competencies in specialised areas like quantum science, artificial intelligence and pharmaceuticals.

What are the key technologies that will thrive in Industry 4.0? 
A number of smart and connected technologies will become embedded within organisations, people, and assets. The most impactful will be robotics, analytics, artificial intelligence and cognitive technologies, nanotechnology, quantum computing, wearables, the internet of things, additive manufacturing and advanced materials. 

What will be the biggest rewards for those firms who embrace Industry 4.0?
There will be many, but those firms who achieve competitive differentiation will be the frontrunners. This is a rare and difficult discipline to master. It takes months to develop and refine and constitutes only 5% of an organisation. But this is the area where early adopters will apply Industry 4.0 to develop the next market, service, product or business model such as bioinformatics, nanotechnology, or quantum technology.

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