When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in March 2020, businesses had no choice but to transition into remote work. They quickly had to embrace telecommuting and adopt more technology-centric processes. The mandatory lockdowns and social distancing saw the rise of software that kept companies connected to their employees and CRM apps that kept businesses connected with their clients or customers.
The situation emphasizes the growing relevance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It shows how Industry 4.0 technologies will continue to transform the way businesses operate and people work.
There are three factors that propelled Industry 4.0 into the spotlight:
Big data refers to a large volume of structured and unstructured information gathered from the daily processes of an organization. This data gets bigger over time. But the actual focus isn’t the data volume is. Rather, it’s on how well how comprehensive the data analysis and insights are.
These insights, based on daily operations and trends, serve as the basis for real-time decision-making. They serve as a reference for business moves. Business owners and organization leaders will be more confident in their choices and decisions by knowing they’re backed by data.
Take note that big data doesn’t come from just one source. It is gathered from multiple sources.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things is essentially the process of turning devices into a controller for automated systems. It adds a level of digital intelligence to regular devices and connects them to external systems. In turn, these systems become more responsive to and in tune with human instincts.
For example, homeowners can install an application on their mobile device to control doors, windows, lighting, HVAC systems, or security systems with a few taps on their smartphone.
Similarly, store owners and office administrators can use IoT devices to control motion sensors and smart thermostats. Manufacturers can also use IoT to digitize and streamline their processes.
Machine-to-Machine Communication (M2M)
The name is pretty much self-explanatory. Machine-to-machine communication refers to direct data exchange and automation between devices. It may include recording and sharing real-time data through wired and wireless networks. M2M, therefore, is one of the most blatant proofs of Industry 4.0. In the future, machines and devices might no longer need human facilitation.
Machine-to-machine communication has been around for a long time, though. It’s what ATMs use to verify an account and authorize cash dispensation. Vending machines also use M2M communication to record and send inventory information to the vending machine owner.
In businesses, M2M communication could include industrial implementation, which automatically lets a device or machine share information only with software that was initially authorized.
These three things made way for automation and computer intelligence to work together more closely than ever. Add this to the way people are more receptive to technology because of the way the pandemic forced it on people, it’s clear that Industry 4.0 will flourish in the years to come.
How else does Industry 4.0 translate from theory into practice?
Industry 4.0 can be a double-edged sword if not managed properly. On one hand, it streamlines manual, repetitive labor. It can actually accomplish these tasks faster. On the other hand, workers who used to do these tasks might be worried that the Fourth Industrial Revolution might eventually cost them their jobs.
But as businesses have come to discover during their transition to pandemic-induced telecommuting, humans and technology can continue to work side by side. By letting technology handle menial tasks, the workforce will have more time to focus on developing the products, skills, and services that matter most.
It might not be so bad, then, to incorporate more technology into business strategies. It is, after all, inevitable.