Thinking back to early history lessons, it’s likely you spent a decent amount of time learning about the Industrial Revolution. Lessons on the development of textiles, steam power, and water power intertwined with stories like Oliver Twist are sure to flood your memory. What you may be less aware of is that we are currently venturing into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, otherwise known as Industry 4.0. While the second brought electric power to mass production and the third incorporated electronics and information technology, the fourth revolution is a whole new beast Charles Dickens could hardly have envisioned. This fourth revolution is clinging to the coattails of the third as the gap in time between massive technological advancements narrows. The full impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution remains to be seen but for now, we can marvel at how far it’s brought us.
Technological advancements have impacted our lives in ways as simple as day-to-day conveniences and as complex as the worldwide economy. The changes impacting the economy include developments in businesses and supply chain. Insights into consumer behavior and growing supply chain capabilities are changing the way companies do business across the globe. Consuming goods is easier than ever before, creating a growing demand and a high expectation for personalized experiences. Innovation is the name of the game while room for error and slow development is shrinking. Consumers no longer have to tolerate poor customer experience, so organizations that provide just that will be left in the dust. In the world of Industry 4.0, slow reactions simply won’t be an option. Changes come frequently and they happen fast. If an organization is late to the punch they will be knocked out before they know it. They must adapt to the evolving environment or suffer the consequences.
Major components of Industry 4.0 include the regulation of machine networks, automation of events, and preventative maintenance. These are made possible by real-time analysis of complex data from various source points. Preventative maintenance allows for timely interventions, which eliminate delayed reactions that lead to excess cost and recovery time. By utilizing real-time data presented within the right context, users are empowered to make logical decisions that save companies time, money, and resources. Coupling automated instant decision making and production processes with human governance provides the most efficient and effective outcome. This is the environment that Industry 4.0 not only makes possible, but demands as a standard.
Industry 4.0 may be making strides in the business world but by no means is it limited in breadth. From biotechnology to artificial intelligence, the advancements in Industry 4.0 are continually pushing the envelope. Human life and cognition are being redefined and will continue to evolve. Concerns remain surrounding the potential replacement within the job industry and the risks associated with overdeveloped technology. However, it is difficult to ignore the excitement created by all the potential for positive outcomes. The full reach of Industry 4.0 is still unknown but one thing is clear—disruption is imminent.
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