Society problems

Beyond Industry 4.0, digital will reshape our society | by Flavio Aliberti | October 2022

Businesses that only use digital technologies to perform tasks more cost-effectively risk missing the unique opportunity to rethink themselves in line with changing society.

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A digital transformation that works opens up vast horizons. It’s a once in a lifetime chance for organizations to create value.

Nothing that can be compared to what we have seen in the past.

In recent centuries, new technologies have replaced work.

All manufacturing line automation has focused on reducing labor as machines have been shown to be more efficient, safer and more efficient to increase quality and reduce costs.

The digital revolution is much more than an advance in the manufacture of goods or the provision of services.

The buzz around Industry 4.0a definition born at a marketing event in 2011, links the current disruption to past waves of change over the past three centuries.

Is this the case, however?

To identify and take advantage of meaningful changes, we must first grasp what previous waves had in common and compare them to what is happening today.

1st industrial revolution

Textile production increased eightfold in the 18th century through the adoption of steam power and mechanization.

As the weaving looms no longer requires muscular effortthe use of steam for industrial purposes was the most important innovation in improving human productivity.

Steamships and (about 100 years later) steam locomotives added a layer of value by allowing humans and goods move in fewer hours.

2nd industrial revolution

The installation of electricity and the assembly line led to a large increase in production during the 19th century. Henry Ford (1863-1947) took automobile manufacturing to new heights by adopting and developing the practices he observed in a Chicago slaughterhouse, where every the worker only performed a specific task slaughter pigs. The division of manufacturing into stages on the conveyor belt has made the overall line substantially faster and Cheaper.

3rd industrial revolution

Memory-programmable controllers and computers were introduced in the 1970s, expanding automation to include the entire production process and minimize the amount of human assistance.

On the factory floor, robots began to perform tasks in predetermined sequences, making the installation safer and increased productivity.

What do the first three industrial revolutions have in common?

They share the root cause: a new set of technologies that suddenly emerge, replace existing ones, undergo intensive exploration, then permeate the economy, generating synergies and, ultimately, becoming a commodity in this country.

They also share the overall effect: they have reduced production costsbeaten down failuresless dependence on workand shorten it waiting time while increasing overall finance, production, consumers and the movement of goods.

The current wave will push all the indicators above to zero.

The application of information and communication technologies in all sectors increases the number of network connectionsremoving barriers, blurring boundaries between industrial sectors and allowing competition not limited by size.

It will create a virtual playground in which digital twins will make products and services available seamlessly.

When the social, technological, and financial layers are all networked, the result will be a “cyber-physical world” in which manufacturing is almost entirely self-sufficient.

Soon, machines will be able to predict breakdowns, maintain themselves and respond to unforeseen changes in production, while automatically managing the supply chain.

The most erroneous assumption is to limit this disruptive time to manufacturing changes, relying only on this self-healing potential of new machines and excluding human contribution.

These industrial advancements have allowed us to use global resources far too easily.

The entire concentrated economic system profits on more and easier availablity of products, booster global resource consumption.

Big organizations in various industries have grown more financially significant that whole countries. Their financial demands took advantage of the first phase of digital development to reduce costs and engulf entire markets.

The frenzy made the situation untenable financially, politically and socially.

The most relevant opportunity behind these digital pathways is to move from an unsustainable model based on physical goods to a totally sustainable, service economy based on virtual products.

A digital society can reduce dependence on physical elements to the essentials, optimize distribution and design itself on the basis of a new economy of value generation.

This much-needed second boost to sustainability must be earned and requires a collaborative effort.

Machines complement humans, and people will play a bigger role than in the past.

From the factory floor to the street, advanced digital technologies such as pervasive computing, robots and artificial intelligence will help build a fully digitalized networked society.

The process of digitizing the world gives us data access this will help us reveal an additional layer of opportunities.

It’s not something a machine can handle.

A paradigm of value creation will shift profit from the sale of items to the provision of services. After-sales service will close the loop by helping to improve and expand custom features, strengthen the customer relationship.
From health to insurance, from education to the automobile, the model will no longer be product-centric.

Data can help decision-making, but machines are not yet able to contextualize it. Understanding circumstances to navigate change will require data-driven, decentralized, empathetic and human-centric control.
Maintain respect for consumer needs reduce waste, stimulate participation and decentralize control.

The difficulties we have been experiencing lately, from geopolitics to logistics, will provide the impetus for policies and reforms that will pave the way for this change.

The current wave of transformation is unique.

What makes data valuable is the transformation of information presented to the relevant audience at the optimal time.

The digital devices in our lives unlock new opportunities that only human and sentient creativity can seize.

Organizations that will restrict creativity to their limits will mostly fail. Institutions that help nurture this creativity will benefit.

The old tactics of focusing on price and size will no longer be effective:
The rules are changing in all sectors and in all societies.

The only thing that can differentiate products and services now that they have become commodities is the added value they will provide over time.

This aspect is not yet the prerogative of machines.

The model will not focus on products in health, insurance, education or automotive.

Profit will shift from selling products to providing services within a value creation paradigm. After-sales service will strengthen ties with customers by enriching and expanding individualized functionality.

Recent geopolitical and logistical challenges will spur policy changes and reform, accelerating the pace of this transformation.

Who is still looking for products is likely to be left behind.