Robots are moving out of factories and into hospitals, schools and offices. Robots are now soft, mobile and working alongside humans

Business 4.0 - Robots Are Coming to a Job Near You

July 13, 2016
Anja Hoffmann

Most robots today sit in a factory doing repetitive tasks. They do their task day in and day out without breaks. But it doesn't have to be that way. 

Industries and nations are facing a new business landscape, working life and production systems defined by intelligent factories, smart machines, automation, and data exchange in technologies. The 'Industry 4.0' is creating challenges and innovative opportunities for government, cities and enterprises. For many leaders, the rising volume of robots is overwhelming. Many areas of businesses have already been changed by serveral major innovations in technologies, and by blending the real and the digital worlds, we're moving to digitisation of everything. 

Industry 4.0: It's More Than a Buzzword, It's a Movement
You're probably wondering exactly what 'industry 4.0' is though, and with that in mind, here's a fine introduction to the fourth industrial revolution across sectors. The thought provoking question - What challenges and opportunities do we see for our organisation?

Tap into the Wisdom of Artificial Intelligence 
Impressive progress has already begun in AI in recent years, powered by digital applications and data. Technologists, business developers and designers are combining technologies and know-how to develop innovative solutions with a 'Massive Transformative Purpose', enabling an exponential innovation cycle. Companies are using pretotyping and prototyping to test ideas and products in near real-time. AI-driven solutions are already improving the performance of search engines, financial trading and e-commerce systems. AI is critical to achieve the gains in R&D, innovation and productivity related to the fourth industrial revolution.       

The winners of tomorrow will have a greater range of capabilities through the use of AI and automation.

Society 4.0: It's always a joy to discover new opportunities. But there is a downside... 
The fourth industrial revolution has huge potential - it's a great opportunity for businesses and organisations to work smarter and more agile, but for the society, it is also challenging. Robotics and automation is the process of replacing human workers with robots. For hundreds of years, people have feared that robots were making human workers obsolete. For good or for bad, technologies has trashed many of the foundations for our society. 

Adoption of new technologies is never easy. Business and government leaders may recognize that industry 4.0 will challenge the existing systems and tax structures. What happens to society when robots replace human workers? How do we navigate in the next digital economy, and how do we rethink the design of 'Society 4.0'? Switzerland was the first country in the world to vote on Universal Basic Income. Switzerland rejected the plan to introduce basic income in june 2016 - but could it be "the future of work" for humans? Cybersecurity will also be a problem to solve. 

Industry 4.0 is sure to be far reaching, affecting every corner of the manufacturing industries and the supply chain. Business executives, political leaders, and thought leaders need a shared language to discuss 'Society 4.0' in a fast-moving world.                 

“Humans may supplement the skills of machines - and not the other way around."
- Bernd Schmitt, Columbia Business School

Are You Ready for 'Business 4.0'?  
The question isn't whether the robots are coming; they are already in our neighborhood, it's how do we shape the future of business and society. How do you get started in 'Business 4.0' and fostering innovation? Here are some tips to get started:

Be curious and imagine the future: Innovative leaders have a strong imagination and they dare to ask "dumb" questions. Among the most important disciplines of leaders is curiosity, as well as dialouges with people who see the world differently and challenge the status quo.  

Think bigger and understand the complex ecosystem: See your organisation and business in a bigger picture. Do you really understand your ecosystem? How do you find grass-roots relationships among "disruptive" startups and effectively create strategic partnerships to achieve an innovative edge in your business? 

Be systematic and set guidelines: If you're finding it difficult to transform business models and ecosystems, you're not alone. It can be a complicated and fuzzy process. The most innovative leaders and teams are the ones that have a systemic approach for thinking and transforming.    

Embrace diversity: Too many companies hire employees with similar qualifications, education and personalities to ensure the perfect fit for the organisation. Diversity unlocks innovation and is a critical success factor for rapid growth. 

Stop calling yourself disruptive: If you have to call yourself disruptive, you're probably not. Sure it's good PR and a great marketing stunt, but long-term impact less innovative.

By 2020, European industrial companies will invest a total of €140 billion annually in Industry 4.0, according to a survey by PWC. What's your plan version 4.0?

The future is all about what you do next. So
what's your next move?