The New Industry 4.0 Revolution
Today, we are witnessing the dawn of a new industrial revolution in the form of Industry 4.0. Forrester defines Industry 4.0 as a real-time process integration with digital technology, enabling “intelligence anywhere,” (1). The amalgamation of advanced operational techniques along with the combination of digital technologies allows for the creation of a smart digital enterprise with fully connected processes. Companies, which have adopted the true meaning of Industry 4.0 and have undergone a digital transformation, have reinvented their business models. Upending of these business models has resulted in massive disruption across industries.
Blending of new economic models like the shared and circular economy and industry 4.0 has initiated a process of change across industries more so in asset heavy industries and specifically across manufacturing industries. Two of the primary areas where they have had the most impact resulting in new opportunities are:
Rise of ecosystem collaboration
Close collaboration with partners, suppliers and customers have always helped to yield competitive advantage for all stakeholders involved. Digital technologies have enabled to dissolve the boundaries between various entities in an ecosystem thus allowing for more interactions, which was nonexistent earlier. As the adoption of digital technologies increase, the need for a common platform increases, which enables better interactions and facilitates new way of doing business. IDC predicts that by 2018, more than 50 percent of large enterprises – and more than 80 percent of enterprises with advanced digital transformation strategies – will create and/or collaborate with industry platforms (2). Thus, we are entering into a stage of new era of platform driven business models that allows for better means of value creation for all the partners present in the ecosystem.
That being said the ecosystem collaboration model brings forth challenges of access control, data governance and dynamic partnerships (2). In addition as more multitude of partners access this platform, the need for increasing transparency and trust will rise.
The Age of Intelligent Assets
Ellen Mc Arthur foundation defines intelligent assets as physical objects that are able to sense, record and communicate information about themselves and/or their surroundings (3). But, the ambit of intelligent assets should not be restricted to only relaying information, rather should be defined as assets that are completely autonomous, which can perform operational activities by themselves like self-order parts, generate service request and ensure complete utilization.
Gartner predicts that by 2021 ‘around 25 billion connected “things” will be in use’ and their ‘disruptive impact will be felt across (4). So what importance does this information hold? As more assets are connected, more data is generated thus enabling us to derive more insights. Thus, we are standing in a crux of a new world where each asset has the potential to be “intelligent & completely autonomous”.
Intelligent Assets addressing the concerns of Ecosystem Collaboration
One of the key challenges, which an intelligent asset can address, is fostering trust and credibility among various stakeholders. When the number of partners increases in the ecosystem economy, it increases the touchpoints and the number of decisions, which has to be transparent. Intelligent assets reduce the onus of making decisions for the stakeholders by ensuring that it is automated and transparent. Thus, intelligent assets are a key building block of the ecosystem economy as they address its major challenge of trust and credibility.
Some of the other challenges that intelligent assets can address are:
What are the building blocks of intelligent assets?
Internet of things (IoT) plays a major role in this new age of assets. IoT could create an opportunity of up to $11.1 trillion across industries by 2025, out of which the manufacturing industries would benefit the most ($3.7 trillion) (2). Taking these benefits into perspective IOT is seeing wide adoption across industries. While the first wave of IoT centered on connecting devices and getting data that earlier was inaccessible, the second wave concentrated on getting insights from these data. This involved filtering out data that was useful and using analytics to get insights. However, the end action was depended on human decision-making ability based on the insights obtained.
IoT has enabled us to know more about our assets than we ever did. While its benefits are today being widely realized, one question that looms large is - Can we consider a connected device as intelligent, by virtue of the insight that it provides? The fast pace of digital transformation demands intelligent assets to have a unique digital identity, an associated personal wallet enabling automated peer-to-peer transactions. Will IoT be able to address these demands?
In our next part of this article, we will see which exponential technologies addresses the above needs and challenges.
Distinguished Member of Technical Staff (DMTS),
Digital Strategist & Principal Consultant for Manufacturing SBU
Senthil is an inventor, business strategist and a technology enthusiast with multiple years of experience in building technology focused award-winning products. With Wipro, his primary charter is to advise clients from the manufacturing vertical on digital disruption using exponential technologies like IoT, AI, Blockchain etc. Being a member of the DMTS community, he has executed multiple novel and forward looking solutions with our clients to benefit their business. He is proud to possess an all-round entrepreneurial skill for success – who can envision industry & customer focused solutions, design, architect, & deliver to bring the ideas into reality using ahead of the curve technologies & Open Innovation principles, evangelize by presenting in multiple developer workshops, IEEE conferences & to C-suite executives. He has published multiple technical papers in international conferences & inventor of multiple granted patents in the emerging technology areas.
Sudeepta is a digital consultant with Wipro’s manufacturing practice. She is enthusiastic about technology and is a storyteller who loves to communicate ideas. At Wipro, she helps to research, create and curate content and offerings around digital transformation in manufacturing industry involving technologies like artificial intelligence, IoT, Blockchain, and Martech etc.