Is your business ready for Industry 4.0? The 'REAL' Revolution
February 06, 2019 16:20
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Looking ahead - Industry 4.0
Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, mankind has never stopped innovating. Referred to as Industry 1.0, the use of steam and water power to build previously unseen machinery and structures rapidly changed global production methods and enabled us to advance manufacturing in leaps and bounds.
In Industry 2.0, we harnessed electricity to streamline production, enhance communication and become connected to a wider world.
Industry 3.0 catapulted us into the world we see today, where high-speed internet, global communication and limitless connectivity are not just common, but essential to every operation and individual, no matter how big or small.
Innovators are the leaders of these great paradigm shifts. They see the next big thing and make it happen, instead of waiting for it to happen to them. In the 21st century, digital and technical innovation is at the forefront of everything we do. You Don't Have That Next Big Idea? That's OK. Everything is connected and we all exist in a hyper-complex network that’s constantly speaking to itself to make our lives easier.
But what should we expect from Industry 4.0?
In truth, it’s already here and has been for a while. The Internet of Things enables your fridge to order milk when you’re running low. Your car can drive itself (more or less) and you can make a cup of coffee to order from a button by your bed.
Artificial Intelligence is no longer just the name of a movie, it’s probably in your hand right now. Almost every smartphone these days comes equipped with a personal assistant that can answer your questions, organise your schedule or tell you a joke.
But is this true AI? Not really.
True artificial intelligence is very much a work in progress, and what seems like intelligence is more often than not just mimicry. That being said, Machine Learning - the ability for a program to learn from itself - is enabling machines to make ‘decisions’ for themselves.
A perfect example of Machine Learning is Google’s DeepMind AlphaGo system. Being given only the basic rules of the ancient and very complex Chinese game Go, the system played countless games against itself, and in just three days was equipped to defeat a world champion Go player in four out of five games.
Machine Learning will have a huge impact on Industry 4.0, as it requires minimal human input and teaches itself, potentially consolidating thousands of years of trial and error into just a few short days, or even less. This would allow incredible efficiency and allow us to move even further ahead in a shorter space of time.
Arguably the buzzword of 2018, blockchain is most heavily associated with the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. In an astonishingly short amount of time this technology and currency became fabulously valuable and although the value of Bitcoin has levelled off, blockchain’s potential and uses are virtually limitless. But what is it? What makes it so revolutionary?
“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016)
Blockchain technology is simple. When transactions are made online, each is given a unique signature called a ‘hash’ and added to a decentralised ledger, meaning no one entity has complete control over it. This means that if a change is made, everyone with access to the chain is able to see it. This makes blockchain an incredibly reliable and transparent system. Its applications are virtually limitless and it’s so reliable that it’s the de facto method of trading cryptocurrency totalling hundreds of billions of dollars.
Any online transaction at all can be made safe and secure by using blockchain, so it’s small wonder more and more companies are choosing to ‘go decentralized’ In Industry 4.0, with so much interconnectivity and the constant looming threat of cybercrime, blockchain will increasingly be companies’ virtual padlock.
As with any business, security is paramount. Business ideas, sensitive documents and personal information are all susceptible to cybercrime and hackers.
The 2018 WannaCry hack on the NHS cost the service upwards of £90 million, including cancelled appointments and upgrades to cybersecurity. However, it’s not just businesses that are targeted.
Thousands of personal computers were invaded in this one incident alone, and there are constant mutations and developments of malware and ransomware, so security must too evolve.
Increased connectivity in Industry 4.0 brings increased risk, with data sharing being more integral to companies than ever with smart factories and communicative supply networks.
Blockchain technology has already proven incredibly effective in protecting online transactions, and more emphasis is being put on privacy by design, with integrated protection measures built from the ground up, rather than as an add-on. Nevertheless, cyber threats will continue to find ways through, and if and when they do, DNS systems will be more exposed than ever before.
Cybersecurity will be scrutinised more than ever in Industry 4.0, no doubt with companies like IBM and Cisco leading the charge.
Industry 4.0 will surely make our lives more connected, more efficient and more integrated. However, as with any technological advancement, there can be pitfalls and our job is to future proof you for the new industrial revolution.
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