With the demands on procurement becoming ever more urgent, CPOs in nearly all industries are coming around to the value of going digital.
Walking Toward Industry 4.0
Defining Industry 4.0
Industry 4.0 is what I call an “industry on juice.” A new emerging smart industry that would reshape industrial trends and technologies. Management gurus have been taking a shot at defining Industry 4.0 in different ways, and mostly, they have been accurate. Now, if we are taking a step beyond generic definitions, it should lead us to the application and implementation of a smart industry. This I believe can bring about, or in some cases, has already brought about a paradigm change in the way industries operate. For those industries that are looking to transition to Industry 4.0, they can start by taking baby steps toward digital transformation, automation and innovation. Industry 4.0 is scalable. All types of industries such as primary, manufacturing, services and technology-based industries can benefit from Industry 4.0. We all know that one cannot blindly shoot arrows in the dark and therefore industries that need to sustain and endure this transition, will need to be experts in their fields, or more or less know their business.
With that being said, let’s talk about its application. Industry 4.0 is a concept that needs to be applied with the right mix of technologies. Industries today are leaning toward the so-called internet of sorts. Cloud computing, ERP integrations, mobile applications, big data analytics, 3D printing, augmented reality, etc. are some fine examples of the emergence of a new industry. Every industry evolves and is required to adapt to the shift in industrial environment and technologies. Keep in mind that growth is based on many factors and is not directly dependent on the concept of Industry 4.0. But, the right application of tools required to make an industry function smoothly, integrate and communicate with systems and consumers internally and externally to broaden digital relationships, communication, transparency, training, planning, execution, etc. will provide the right recipe for industrial growth. Industry 4.0 is a means to achieve that.
So when is the right time for an industry to go digital? Is it worth the investment? Industries should start investing in the right technologies to achieve optimum levels of growth. Easier said than done, but industries need to stay ahead of their game by revolutionizing the way they run their business. Right from automating their machines to using various tools, to integrate their business internally and externally, connecting through the right channels — be it consumers, suppliers, employees, etc. — a right solution will help achieve more with little.
Even though the concept of 4.0 is all about digital transformation, one must factor in the risks involved. Risks that industries would need to watch out for. One such risk is the operational risk, when industries that implement 4.0 can’t really use it effectively, thus creating an environment of confusion and chaos. Other risks pertain to cybersecurity, virtual attacks, threats from malicious viruses, and fraud. Industries need to have a strong defense system to protect themselves against fraud and cybercrimes.
With the good and ugly in the digital world, one needs to understand that Industry 4.0 brings in a lot of opportunity and potential. Along with that come challenges, conflicts and hurdles. One must remain optimistic and choose the right 4.0 fit to bring in a paradigm change for the better, within their sector of business. I call technology a necessary evil.