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Does Industry 4.0 matter?

Source |  |  BY:Jorge calvo

owadays, it’s not unusual to come across articles and reports in the mass media and business journals about Industry 4.0 and how businesses and operations are undergoing a digital transformation through the use of emerging technologies, including IoT, AI, big data, sensors, robots, and 3D-printing. Many of these articles only focus on superficial aspects, such as the application of technology, employing technological jargon—that is impenetrable to the average person in order to elevate Industry 4.0 news to the heady category of prophesy, as if everything was possible in the future or, even worse, prophesying a future in which there is no room for today’s companies.

It’s easy to come away with the impression that the business world has divided itself into prophets and doomsayers. Prophets promise a business heaven sloshing with 11 trillion dollars by 2025 and eternal happiness for executives, with 55 billion IoT connected devices by 2020, and all this when you instantly climb aboard the digital bandwagon and let the IT angels advise you. The doomsayers threaten us with new demons such Amazon, Uber, Google, Airbnb, who will bulldoze traditional businesses. Angels and demons? It’s as if people, management and strategy suddenly no longer make sense in this new world.

Despite the current popularity of Industry 4.0, and maybe due to the skewed attention it receives at the hands of the media, its effectiveness still remains elusive for many company directors and senior executives. It’s the topic of conversation over a coffee among friends and colleagues and everyone seems to think themselves an expert in technology, or at least, are strongly opinionated about it: you’re either on the side of the prophets or the doomsayers. But we mustn’t forget that this is business, and however much we enthuse over or dislike the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its emerging technologies, there needs be some form of rationalization between management and strategy that is able to transform these prophesies into profitable businesses and the threats into business opportunities.


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