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Cheat sheet: what is Industry 4.0 and its impact and opportunities for marketing

by adrian nicholls

July 22, 2021

If your boss, clients, mates or kids ask you about Industry 4.0, here are the key facts about why it’s important and how you can take advantage of it.

And if they’re not asking you – go tell them all about the bells and whistles that Industry 4.0 can deliver.

Industry 4.0 is finally here, so what is it?

This term has officially been with us since 2011, when a collective of German’s pooled their ideas together to deliver competitiveness for their manufacturing industry. However, the technology to make this 2011 vision a reality has only recently caught up.

It seems timely then, to explore how we can also use these technologies for marketing.

Wiki defines Industry 4.0 (the Fourth Industrial Revolution) as ‘the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology. Large-scale machine to machine communication (M2M) and the internet of things (IoT) are integrated for increased automation, improved communication and self-monitoring, and production of smart machines that can analyze and diagnose issues without the need for human intervention.’

For context, here’s a thunder through the previous Industrial Revolutions:

First Industrial Revolution – 1760 to 1820

This was when we moved from hand production to machines using steam and waterpower.

Second Industrial Revolution (Technological Revolution) – 1871-1914

The building of railroad and telegraph networks, which enabled faster transfer of people, ideas and electricity. It also led to large unemployment as machines replaced factory workers. And we got the phrase ‘Luddites’, a secret society of textile workers, who wanted to smash up this new technology that was taking their jobs.

Third Industrial Revolution (Digital Revolution) – late 20th century

The development of computing power and supercomputers enabled the use of computer and communication technologies in the production process, where machinery began to negate the need for human power, ushering in the rise of the robotic factory.

What are the drivers behind Industry 4.0 and how will it deliver a competitive advantage?

A. Digitises and integrates vertical and horizontal value chains

In English, it means efficiencies through connections in the supply chain, and for customers, transparency as to the progress in the delivery of whatever they’ve ordered.

B. The digitisation of products and services

This has resulted in new methods of data collection and analysis, which enables companies to better understand how their products and services are being used. They can then both refine current products, but also generate new offerings based on usage data.

C. Digital business models

These will enable better access to track customer satisfaction, which you’ll see as perpetual and always changing. But because businesses will have both these data points to track customer satisfaction and the channels to respond to the customer, they can happen in real time.

OK so far?

These are the technologies enabling all this.

Once we understand them, then we can start to think of marketing use cases (and don’t worry I’ve found some great examples to spark imagination).

1. Additive manufacturing

3D printing is a great example. Manufacture small batches of new products quickly and cheaply. Formula 1 teams print 3D replacement parts at the races, which have been developed at base, which in turn cuts out delivery costs.

2. Augmented Reality (AR)

Use cases include companies in Japan creating virtual training for earthquakes and what employees should do. Build it once, update it easily, scale and roll-out.

3. Autonomous robots

These robots interact with each and over time will reduce in cost and have extended capabilities. Japan has a hotel run entirely by robots, with no human engagement, they deliver a consistent welcome experience even at 4am in the morning. What human night manager will do that?

4. Big Data

There it is. Analysing all this data from multiple sources becomes paramount. Connected cars generate 25 Gigabytes of data per hour, compare that to your mobile phone allowance…

5. The Cloud

Moving all that data into the cloud, enables all your company to both access it from anywhere, as well as add additional capacity when needed.

6. Cybersecurity

All that extra data collected from all those Internet Of things are great, but that’s an awful lot of hack opportunities, so the cyber threat has grown.

7. The Industrial Internet of Things

Multiple components now have embedded computing, which mean sharing data between machines and to centralised points, allowing analysis in real time for better performance.

8. Simulation

The ability to test and optimise the potential performance of a product before you physically build it.

And rightly so, there are concerns with all this, including:

· Privacy

· Surveillance

· Loss of many jobs to automatic and IT-controlled processes·

· Increased risk of gender inequalities where certain job roles are most susceptible to replacement with AI

Let’s start applying to key UK sectors

Retail (including supermarkets) – 2021 revenue £139B

A seismic year of change driven by Covid, food shortages, disruption and discount supermarkets cutting prices. Key benefits will be real-time food supply chain data – what is available and where, and how best to optimise home delivery.

Financial, Banking, Insurance &Pensions – 2021 revenue £247B

Low interest rates have reduced revenues generated on loans and new FinTechs offering alternative banking solutions. FinTechs have been enabled by open banking APIs, allowing customers to switch easily, as well as big-data crunching, which predicts customer behaviour and when it’s best to offer products and savings.

Automotive dealers – 2021 revenue £72B

Covid led to dealership closer and huge fall in car sales. Use of AR has enabled virtual car drives and viewing without setting foot in the dealerships. The connected manufacturing plant to vehicle viewings allows OEMs to know when to increase vehicle production.

Construction – 2021 revenue £89B

One of the few industries that has continued throughout the pandemic. Clear opportunities have been AR to help off-plan purchases of new builds, simulations to show most efficient build scenario, as well as connected data from building sites to monitor progress.

Hospitals & Pharmaceutical – 2021 revenue £116B

Connected healthcare from GP surgery, to hospital admittance, to post-hospital social care is a vision being aimed for. To get there, we’ll need connected data, security of highly personal data and tracking customer progress.

IT & Consultancy – 2021 revenue £64B

This is the sector to enable all the above!

How are you going to start applying these? Here are live examples to start spark your imagination.

Touch-free checkout supermarkets – Amazon Fresh

There will be hundreds of these across the UK soon, using smart technology and sensor data to track what customers have taken from shelves. Real-time data to show most popular items for optimised restocking. Plus, maybe if the shelf was empty, it can be added to Amazon online basket and delivered to home next day?https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-56266494

AUDI cars are synched to the traffic lights

First seen at CES in about 2015, where an R8 was shown to be synched to the traffic lights of LA, the vehicle’s speed was controlled to hit only green lights.

It’s now publicly available, as their Vehicle to Infrastructure V21 technology is live in Dusseldorf, to see on the dashboard data from 150 traffic lights, to help catch the ‘green wave’ and never be stuck in traffic again (in theory).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1LgDo-meUc

And lastly, Pepper the robot (currently on hold)

Maybe Pepper’s day will come and not this:

To date he’s appeared before Parliament, welcomed visitors to HSBC branch, helped autistic pupils, taught yoga in care homes and been cheerleaders at baseball games.

In summary, what can we learn from Industry 4.0 and how can we apply this to ourselves and our marketing efforts?

Here’s a few thought starters:

· View customer service as ongoing and adapt to changing needs.

· Deliver predictive marketing messages, such as ‘leave now to catch the sale around the corner, and bring a brolly it’s going to rain, you left yours at home by the way’, due to smart products with embedded intelligence

· Give piece of mind on how your new car’s build is progressing, receive messages literally as it moves through the factory

· Build and test protypes of new products for proper user feedback

· And loads more, think for yourself or build a model to do it for you…

Tags

industry 4.0
Future of Marketing
AI
robotics
automation
AR experience
cybersecurity
Cloud
augmented reality
big data
IoT
Internet of Things