The “Next Big Thing” series: What’s Industry 4.0 anyway?

So, here’s to continue with “The Next Big Thing” blog post series. Let’s take a leap into what really matters in the coming years – to all kinds of businesses:

Once upon a time

there was The Web. Then Web 2.0. Web 3.0 (Semantics and Augmentation). Then the saying of the “3rd Industrial Revolution”.

I recall, that in the beginnings of the term being used people explained this to be the raise of Cloud Computing and the ubiquitous social and mobile interconnection, whereas later many have corrected themselves to see it as the Industrial Revolution that was started with the raise of the personal computer.

Nowadays, no one seems to be really talking of any Industrial Revolution anymore (might be that they’re unsure whether it’s the 3rd, the 4th or whether we’re in the midst of a constant revolution anyway), but businesses needed a term to describe their striving for technologies that constantly get smarter and help them grow.

Industry 4.0 was born. And it seemed for some time that the core concepts of Industry 4.0 are robotics and the “Internet of Things” (IoT). Whereas the first is still true, “Industry 4.0” has become a term used mainly in the field of manufacturing: Smart factories supported by intense introduction of robotics-based technologies and machines as well as heavy adoption of Automation form the cornerstones of the Industry 4.0 age.

And while there are expert sources that extend the coverage of the Industry 4.0 term also into a world outside of factories (with smart machines like e.g. drones, driverless cars and human support roboters – see e.g. my German-only blog post “Innovationskraft ist nicht das Problem” or the keynote discussed there), the most confusing definition of Industry 4.0 occurred to me in both the English and the German version of Wikipedia, where the article defining the term (at the moment of writing this post) starts by saying: “Industry 4.0 is a project in the high-tech strategy of the German government”.

Hence, I trust that for the benefit of a clear and focussed discussion within this little blog series, it is of advantage to omit the term “Industry 4.0” for a moment and talk about what really will disrupt business and IT in the next couple of years.

And these are mainly

3 Aspects

of an extensively integrated and orchestrated world:

  • Things
  • Digitalized business
  • and a great amount of lightweight well-orchestrated and automated services

The upcoming issues of this series will cover these aspects in more detail – stay tuned.

 

{We’ll start into the “Things” stuff with No. 6 of this blog post series}

{feature image found on www.automationworld.com}

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