The rise of Industry 4.0 is continuing to gather pace. Indeed, a report from KPMGsuggests that the component markets of Industry 4.0 will be worth a combined $4 trillion by 2020: businesses are currently facing a frantic race to keep up. So here are five key factors for businesses to consider, to assist them in taking advantage of Industry 4.0 over the coming months and years.
1.Put data analysis front and centre
With the growing prominence of IoT, collecting and analysing vast amounts of data will form the backbone of future business. Businesses are being trusted with larger amounts of data than ever before, required to use it appropriately and safely.
One opportunity will come from ‘smart factories’, which use data from connected systems to optimise efficiency and minimise downtime. For example, manufacturers will be able to analyse historical trends to predict future failures, shaping product development operations accordingly. Ultimately, the more data that is analysed, the smarter the decisions, so adopting a data-first mindset could prove essential to future success.
2.Break down silos
A key to realising the potential of Industry 4.0 will be finding ways to connect different business units and obtain a complete view of operations. This is where Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions can play a major role.
For manufacturers specifically, all areas of the manufacturing process can be integrated into one database. This provides insight into increasingly complex supply chains, helping manufacturers manage supplier partnership and stay on top of key factors such as demand forecasting and production downtime.
Breaking down silos also makes it easier for employees to collaborate, both with each other and with external partners, all of which highlights why businesses can simply no longer afford to work in silos.
Industry 4.0 is also proving to be a great leveller across multiple industries. Technologies such as cloud computing and increased connectivity are boosting globalisation. As such, businesses are now able to reach a wider audience than ever before and should be encouraged to adopt an international mindset.
This applies to even the smallest start-ups. From accounting and payroll to payments and expenses, powerful software is now available to help start-ups take control of the administrative side of business, enabling them to focus on growth and expansion.
4.Develop your workforce
With the growing prominence of automation, AI and robotics, human employees are changing how they work and businesses must be prepared to support this development.
As a starting point, businesses should make sure their workforce has the required technical skill level. This might involve recruiting people who possess expertise, or running training programmes to bring existing employees up-to-date.
But the focus shouldn’t just be on technical skills. With software already starting to take over many of the more mundane, time-consuming tasks, ‘human’ skills such as creativity, critical thinking and communication will be key to the workplace of the future.
5.Adopt an agile mindset
One final piece of advice for businesses looking to take advantage of Industry 4.0 is to recognise the importance of agility and flexibility.
In order to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, being able to adapt to change has become more important than ever. As such, business culture must be geared towards productivity and agility, in improving the customer experience and driving revenue. This could involve experimenting with new technologies, focusing on customer needs and implementing a culture of collaboration.
So, what are you waiting for? The era of Industry 4.0 is already underway and, with the pace of innovation showing no sign of slowing, businesses have to act now if they want to take advantage of the huge potential that today’s connected world offers.