For all the importance of the technology, in the fourth industrial revolution, it alone is not enough. The nature of the changes we are undergoing require that organizations and governments evolve business models, approaches to services and step up to meet new engagement expectations. This is no different to previous industrial revolutions which saw significant changes to how we worked, lived and played, driving society and economic performance forwards.
What is different with the fourth industrial revolution is that it is fueled by an always-on flow of data, which in turn is driving the creation and use of knowledge as a core asset. This knowledge economy typifies the outcome of the fourth industrial revolution. Using data organizations derive knowledge that enables them to:
- Engage customers through new and differentiated experiences;
- Empower employees to differentiated levels of agility and productivity, securely in a digital culture;
- Optimize operations to be to be efficient through digitizing business process, leveraging cloud and modernizing the workplace in the process;
- Helping enable the transformation of products and reimagining of business to disrupt their industry.
Organizations and governments need to start out deciding what they want to influence and in which order. From there they need to consider an end-to-end approach to instrumentation and data collection as a core part of their fabric. Once that is in place the attention shifts to how they can leverage that data to derive the knowledge to meet their stated goals.
The technology of ubiquitous connectivity combined with IoT, the cloud, big data and analytics ensures every organization can take part in the knowledge economy but the direction to take depends on what an organization wants to do and in which order as well as their desire to change.
In short, the future demands a new data and knowledge driven mindset in every organization and government.
If we look at car manufacturers, previously a car was delivered to a dealer, who acted as an intermediary to the purchaser. In this model, the dealer had the relationship with the customer and data only went back to the manufacturer when something went wrong. In essence the manufacturer knew very little of how the car was being used and how it was performing once it left their production line.
Now, with vehicle sensors delivering regular telemetry data, it is possible for the car manufacturer to offer directly engage customers through new and differentiated experiences throughout the lifespan of the vehicle. Essentially this means that the car manufacturer is no longer simply the producer of the car but also the software platform powering a new world of in-car (often safety related) value adding services. This makes every car company a software company overnight, which is new territory and changes them from a pure manufacturing company to one that is also very much a services company. It is not unreasonable to think that in a number of years’ time you could even get the car for free by signing up for a collection of services you pay for over time.
The rich data now directly available to the car manufacturer means they can offer new data driven services which equates to a fundamental transformation of products and reimagining of business potential for them. New services such as predictive maintenance become possible which not only optimizes servicing but reduces the risk to drivers of a suddenly failing part which could be a life threatening event. By monitoring where the car is and suspension usage they will be able to detect roads that need repair and sell/pass-on that data to others who can leverage it to improve things for everyone. The possibilities are endless!
Essentially this shift opens the doors to new revenue opportunities for car manufacturers and new services for drivers and those who may be affected by drivers on our streets. To support the creation of these new services car manufacturers must collaborative more than ever. They need to refresh existing partnerships and establish new strategic relationships so they can thrive moving forwards.
At the recent World Economic Forum, Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Schneider Electric, spoke about this shift clearly (full video here) saying that now they “stay connected 24/7 so that means we can bring new value, new capabilities and a lot of new services“. You can learn more about what they are doing with Microsoft here. The point is new relationships and ubiquitous always on connectivity is a massive opportunity to grow a brand, customer satisfaction, the top line and drive a new wave of process automation and optimization. To get to this thinking Schneider Electric have redefined relationships and then empowered new ones using a next generation digital software platform. Of course, they are just beginning this journey but are ahead of many.
The benefits of the fourth industrial revolution are not just focused on the top or bottom line of an organization. Governments should embrace the opportunity to utilize ubiquitous connectivity to help with information flow to citizens and improve not only the citizens’ connection to public officials but also the services they are provided. Governments can use IoT to gather data that lets them monitor and improve water and air quality, provide better quality of services leading to streamlined refuse collection, optimized traffic flows, reduced expenditures on lighting, heating and more.
One recent example is a government initiative from the States of Jersey which allows citizens to track the buses on the island. In this case, they delivered new sources of information to citizens helping parents to see, for example, when their children’s school bus might be arriving to the stop where they might collect them so they are not waiting and children are not left standing on their own. This is a simple example but smart cities offer great promise as discussed in this post by Microsoft executive vice president and president, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing and Operations Jean-Phillipe Courtois with far reaching potential impact for citizens.
If you want to be a driving force in the fourth industrial revolution you have to:
- Pay more attention to relationships and partnerships. Refresh existing ones, terminate those which no longer make sense and seek out those that can propel you forwards.
- Reconsider how relationships with the end user of a product or service might evolve with the advent of IoT, the cloud and more.
- Think about which new data might unlock new potential and how to get that data. Don’t just think outside the box…. think in a transformational way with the sky as the only limit because that is what your next competitor, who may not exist today, will be doing.
- Start now, focused at first, and accelerate!
It is for this reason that Microsoft has focused much attention on helping to connect sensor and device manufacturers, ISVs, Systems Integrators and more. By connecting you to this broad set of partners you can start to build new collaborative partnerships and have access to some of the brightest minds who can help you challenge your own thinking.
Mark Torr is responsible for Advanced Analytics and IoT for Microsoft across the CEE region. Mark brings over 20 years of experience working in the fields of Data Management, Analytics and Reporting with the majority of that spent in various senior roles at SAS. Mark has worked with customers throughout the world, and across all industries, helping them to see how they can transform data into a strategic asset through the use of Analytics and more recently various big data technologies. Mark is a TOGAF certified enterprise architect who holds a 1st class degree in Software Engineering from Hull University, England. He is well known in the field of analytics and big data having spoken on a wide variety of thought leadership topics at external conferences. He is an active blogger (www.marktorr.com), has over 13,500 Twitter followers (and was recently named at #85 of the top 100 Big Data Experts to follow on Twitter and at #62 of the top 100 IoT Experts to follow on Twitter) and is also very active on LinkedIn.