23 August 2017

Industry 4.0, the new industrial revolution

We are witnessing today what is considered a true fourth industrial revolution. After the revolution of steam energy, electric power, automated production, has now come the revolution of computing and Internet of Things, the so-called industry 4.0. This new era presents itself as an opportunity for Portuguese companies to modernize and enter an increasingly global and competitive economy.

In this way, national companies, like their international counterparts, must be able to cope with and manage to keep up with the impact of this digital transformation in their business, while recognizing the need to (re) qualify their professionals. A key key to increasing competitiveness and differentiating products and services.

The constant technological innovations and the digital modifications that we have come with are driving disruptive changes in production and business models. Today, we are experiencing a profound disruption in all sectors of activity, providing firms that come from entirely different areas in markets considered stable, such as the impact that Tesla and Google, as new transport paradigms, are have in the market. Or the case of Smart watches for the traditional watch industry. These changes oblige traditional companies to reinvent themselves and to invest heavily in new technologies, because only in this way will they be able to keep up with this new era. In other sectors, this impact is already felt more sharply, such as banking, transport and accommodation, among many others.

But... How can organizations actually keep up with this digital transformation? And automate your processes?

The answer to all these challenges is always to define a strategy for the integration of new technologies, and for this it is necessary, in the first phase, to assess the current digital maturity and to set clear objectives for the next five years, giving priority to measures that will provide greater benefits to the company.

In a next step, professionals need to be able to adapt and thus take advantage of these new transformations. In a simple way, it is important to identify the relevant qualifications and use them to give new skills to their teams, investing heavily in the training and creation of new jobs against the recent requirements of professional profiles requested by the industry. It should also be emphasized that for a company to adopt a digital culture, all employees should be aligned with this goal in the way they think and act.

After implementing this action, it should be considered the establishment of partnerships with leading digital companies, in order to accelerate the process of digital innovation and, at the same time, to attract competencies that allow to meet the needs of the business fabric. On the other hand, the development of products and services with added value, that is, connected or intelligent and with less time-to-market, is also fundamental in order to meet the needs of consumers. The true advances in performance occur when we actively seek to understand Customers' behavior, as this will define the role of the company in a future ecosystem of Partners, Suppliers and Customers.

Last, but extremely important, is the development of the ability to identify and gather the best information, analyzing it effectively for more informed decision-making. It is crucial to use the data to improve products and processes by establishing direct links between the decision-making process and the development of intelligent systems.

In an increasingly digital, advanced and extremely competitive world, Industry 4.0 represents an opportunity for Portuguese companies to modernize in an increasingly global economy. In this way, it is essential that the Portuguese business community recognize the importance and the need to modernize, adapt and create products with greater added value. Portugal has excellent ranks as textiles, footwear, agribusiness and also startups with innovative products, and most of them in the technological area.

And is your company already prepared to make the leap and become fully digital?

Opinion article published in media i9 Magazine – August 23, 2017