It’s become difficult enough for organizations to stay on top of new technology trends and innovations, much less the latest terms and buzzwords to describe them. Nonetheless, regardless of how you describe it or what catchphrase you assign to the wave of intelligent, process-driven innovations sweeping through industries or all shapes and companies of all sizes, we are living in exciting times.
The D!conomy and Digital Transformation
At CeBit 2017 in Hannover, Germany, the theme of the largest consumer electronics trade event was “D!conomy-No Limits.” Oliver Frese, Managing Board Member at Deutsche Messe, in a recent interview, explained the theme by saying "[D!conomy—No Limits] stands for the fact that the human/machine interface is undergoing a profound shift, as is the traditional distinction between reality and virtual reality. As designers of the digital age, people should not limit themselves in terms of new ideas and options, but should open-mindedly assess the possible options and take on an active role in shaping the transition."
Industry 4.0: Blurring the Lines Between the Physical and Digital Worlds
Epicor’s Terri Hiskey, VP, Manufacturing, Portfolio Marketing, observes that D!conomy appears to be CeBit’s attempt to redefine the consumer digital transformation underway as a part of Industry 4.0.
Industry 4.0, for those consulting their technology buzzword bingo cards, is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. It includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things and cloud computing.
Industry 4.0 is the evolution of manufacturing facilities into "smart factories". Within smart factories, automated, intelligent systems monitor physical processes. Over the, intelligent, automated systems communicate and cooperate with each other and with humans in real time, and via the to optimize processes, handle exceptions, resolve bottlenecks and maximize efficiency.
As Hiskey observes, “There’s no doubt that Industry 4.0 will have ramifications throughout the manufacturing industry and a majority of manufacturers agree that what is being referred to as the fourth Industrial Revolution will have a big impact on the sector.”
Industry 4.0 calls for a future of agile, affordable manufacturing fueled by technology enablers such as IoT, 3D printing, cloud computing, mobile devices and big data. Both small and large manufacturers will benefit from these capabilities and in fact today they are becoming more affordable and within reach of small manufacturers.