Adaptability: A Key Characteristic of a Successful Industry 4.0 Firm

By Kevin Madden

With the global economy in the preliminary stages of Industry 4.0 (also known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution), it is still hard to say what a “true” Industry 4.0 company will look like. However, it is almost certain that the firms poised to succeed in this new environment will be adaptable. Adaptability is an underlying theme of a recent report by Deloitte Insights titled “The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here—are you ready?”1 The report suggests that companies that make use of advanced technologies to create new business models are the ones that will be the most flexible and best able to tackle challenges in the modern business environment.

Moreover, the report emphasizes the need for companies to take a broad view of Industry 4.0: when it comes to adopting advanced technology, their focus should not be solely on utilizing it to reach short-term business objectives like driving down costs or improving product quality. Instead, organizations should also build entirely new business models from an Industry 4.0 perspective. In other words, the best way for companies to leverage Industry 4.0 is to reshape the way they think about their business in addition to using Industry 4.0 to make old business models more efficient. Understanding the role that disruptive technologies can play—not only in the manufacturing process but in the entire value chain—will allow businesses to compete and add value in ways they had not previously imagined.

Companies that are successful in adopting new, innovative business models are referred to in the report as “true” Industry 4.0 organizations. Through the Internet of Things, smart technology, and sensors, these companies have access to a seemingly endless supply of real-time data from nearly all aspects of their business. This constant collection and analysis of data allows them to make decisions that put them at the forefront of their respective industries. Even more significantly, because their business models are built from an Industry 4.0 perspective, these firms are inherently more adaptable. With machine learning and data analysis, they can detect patterns and respond to challenges much faster. Companies can also use the collected data to run simulations in both the manufacturing process and the general business environment, enabling them to prepare for and predict many different scenarios (e.g., fluctuations in demand, environmental shifts, changes in governmental policies, and competitive threats) and increasing their flexibility and adaptability.

Ontario is fortunate to have a uniquely strong manufacturing industry with firms that are preparing to make full use of Industry 4.0. However, to stay ahead of the competition, companies must keep asking how Industry 4.0 can reshape their business and spur innovation. Undertaking this challenge is not easy, but it will help Ontario develop an abundance of successful, adaptable manufacturing companies that continue to compete at the global level.

If Industry 4.0 has helped to reshape your business plan and made you more adaptable, or if you know of an organization where this is the case, please let us know! You can tweet us at @TrilliumMfg or send us an email at info@trilliummfg.ca.

1 https://www.forbes.com/forbes-insights/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Deloitte-FourthIndustrialRev_REPORT_FINAL-WEB.pdf

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