What industry 4.0 means for corporation

Livemint
18-Feb-2018


The i4 openness is what makes India stand out as an emerging economy. Photo: iStock

Robotics, AI can enable customer services 24×7 from govt agencies.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (i4.0) could transform the way we live and work – presenting both opportunities and challenges. It could lead India into the arc of global progress; entrepreneurs, CEOs, leaders, and start-ups are rapidly adopting technologies involving AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D-printing, advanced robotics and neuroscience.

In this context, it is gratifying that KPMG in India’s survey of Indian CEOs showed that more than 90% of them see technology disruption as more of an opportunity than a threat. This i4 openness is what makes India stand out as an emerging economy.

So what will the Fourth Industrial Revolution mean for India? Among the many important aspects of i4.0 is the confluence of interconnected technologies that enables new approaches to multiple issues such as energy access, food security and building efficiencies. Mobility is expected to witness exponential growth; a leading cab aggregator is already working on air taxis and drones are being used across industries to identify and monitor work. Such advanced tech interventions will enhance pan-industrial functioning and processes.

Gartner says a 30-fold increase in connected devices will “significantly alter how the supply chain operates. Global firms recognise IoT’s transformational role, particularly in manufacturing, retailing and service industries. IoT is set to revolutionise the supply chain with both operational efficiencies and revenue opportunities. The supply chain today is a way to gain an edge on competitors and build your own brand. Smart devices can therefore really make a difference in their ability to closely monitor and deal with more variables than ever.

New data and technology tools can revolutionise processes and operational efficiency with business transparency. However, without the necessary layer of value-chain connectivity, businesses can’t exploit i4.0’s full potential to drive exciting new levels for performance and value. This potential hinges on interconnected technologies. Without losing time, businesses must choose a long-term view that transcends short-term, siloed, technology-led gains.

The World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in India, which aims to bring together government and businesses to pilot emerging technology policies in agriculture, could prove effective for the ailing sector, upon which 80% of the rural population is dependent.

India is currently pursuing the Smart City agenda in 100 cities that will impact 100 million urban population. At 34% urbanisation, Smart Cities’ potential to transform the way of life for residents is huge.

Smart Cities require fundamental policy and regulatory changes to create an enabling environment for automated devices to operate without compromising human values; to keep, within control frameworks, the technological and data security, and to align stakeholder-equipment behaviour, and preserve individual privacy and societal values and cultural heritage, and to foster innovation and encourage entrepreneurs and application development.

Policy support will be vital to preventing skewed market structures that adversely impact the demand-supply dynamic, thereby challenging financial sustainability, while simultaneously balancing obsolescence with time and need to secure returns on technology investments.

Smart technologies can optimise energy use across buildings, transport and utilities; enhance safety and security; assist in improving the financial performance of city administrations and improve convenience through IT enablement and smart devices.

A large portion of this investment is in the devices and equipment that shall detect change in conditions, relay it to a central processing centre and on receipt of relevant commands therefrom, and actuate such equipment so as to trigger the desired responses.

Intelligent lighting, energy saving devices, safety alarms, and intelligent transport are just some of the iceberg tips that can reduce the carbon intensity of our cities.

Robotics and AI can enable customer services 24×7 from government agencies. These trends herald significant opportunities for service providers, technology companies, designers and device manufacturers.

The i4.0 challenge is not about adopting impressive new technologies. It’s a strategy and operating-model challenge, a competition for critical new skills and, ultimately, an overarching business issue that transcends yesterday’s innovations.

Driving true and sustained value from i4.0 demands the strategic integration of automation, data, advanced analytics, manufacturing and products —to unleash unique competitive advantages. Smart manufacturing and digital business models make it critical for business leaders to become better informed on what the future will look like for their industry, organisation, products and customers.

They will need to develop strategic programmes that are enterprise-wide and forward-looking.

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