The State of Australia’s Industry 4.0

Australian businesses innovation

Australian businesses will be swept away by the phenomenal rate of innovation following the emergence of Industry 4.0. Source

As the new industrial era goes full swing in Australia, the majority of Australian businesses continue to grapple with a lack of appropriate skills and corporate culture to maintain a firm footing. This was discovered in the results of a survey of 285 major businesses across Australia carried out by Optus Business.

The findings have been published in Bridging Australia’s Knowledge Economy Gap in Industry 4.0. This report was a sequel to the Enterprise 4.0: Blueprint for Success in the Fourth industrial Revolution, an earlier report published by Optus Business in October 2018. The survey was designed to shed light on the human resources and technical issues that must be addressed in order to enable businesses to cope with the disruptive changes trailing the emergence of Industry 4.0.

“The situation means we must evolve how we develop and utilize human capital,” Optus noted in the report. “Doing so requires the identification of new skills, new organisational structures and new business models.”

Industry 4.0 basically revolves around building a value chain based on an intelligent network of systems, machines and computer algorithms that regulate themselves autonomously. This requires a lot of experimentation. Drawing from the results of the survey, Optus believes that Australian businesses need a much higher degree of commitment to innovative digital initiatives in order to adapt to Industry 4.0.

Key Aspects of Business that Require the Greatest Focus in Industry 4.0

Basically, Industry 4.0 represents an aggregation of “smart factories” — where cyber-physical systems which replicate real-world decision making processes regulate each other and interact with humans. Based on the Internet of Things, the intelligent networks controlling these smart factories make real-time decentralized decisions that affect the various areas of business processes, from internal production processes to customer relation management.

There are four main areas of a business where digital transformation needs to be implemented in order to properly equip the business for the Industry 4.0 era.

  • Interconnection: This refers to the level of connectivity between sensors, devices and people facilitated by the Internet of Things.
  • Access to information: Industry 4.0 is particularly characterized by the regular collection of vast amounts of actionable data through inter-connected systems. By collecting information from all points in the business management process, companies can greatly enhance their capacity for innovative thinking.
  • Technological assistance: In the Industry 4.0 era, companies need to harness more computational power to help synthesize and analyse data gathered from IoT systems in order to make well-informed decisions. Technological assistance can also be used to enhance productivity by automating monotonous tasks to help free up more time for tasks which require human judgement.
  • Decentralized decisions: Companies need to deploy cyber systems to automate simple tasks and certain decision-making processes in order to preserve human resources for more intricate tasks.

The Blueprint for Success in Industry 4.0

The guiding principles of Industry 4.0 include the customization of mass-produced consumer goods fabricated under highly flexible conditions. Also, companies operating in Industry 4.0 need to work with technological systems that have the capacity for self-diagnosis that enables self-optimization and self-reconfiguration. However, the cornerstone of any Industry 4.0 business is the organisation of its workforce.

“The most successful organisations in Industry 4.0 leverage small, multi-disciplinary, networked, and self-organizing teams. Currently, 30 percent of Australian enterprises are designed this way, with many more beginning to lay the foundations for this type of structure.” Optus noted in its report. The company went on to state that it “believes the next generation of successful Australian enterprises will be built on capital-light, data-intelligent and multi-sided platform business models that can be rapidly scaled to enable exponential growth.”

Why Many CEO’s aren’t predisposed to Excel in the New Industrial Era

CEOs who are more inclined to cooperate with other business owners are more likely to succeed in Industry 4.0 than those who don’t

The success rate of companies inclined to collaboration in IoT ecosystems compared to those who aren’t. Source

One of the most critical roles of a CEO is dictating the corporate culture of the business, and this role is even more critical in the Industry 4.0 era. “The biggest differences exist in the cultural and operational characteristics associated with businesses that have experienced exponential growth.” Optus said.

Businesses can’t afford a corporate culture of isolation and monopoly in the new industrial era. Industry 4.0 requires enterprises to embrace a corporate culture that fosters collaboration with other enterprises. That implies getting on the same page with competitors over any modifications needed to support innovation.

“The speed at which enterprises must communicate and collaborate in Industry 4.0 means enterprise leaders cannot afford to have differing views on what can and can’t be achieved. This belief among CEOs that their organisation is more digitally-enabled than it actually is could hinder their ability to transform.” says Optus.

The emergence of Industry 4.0 will mean that everyday businesses need to reevaluate how they operate in order to succeed. Those who are in the know will be able to preempt the massive changes, in order to come out ahead in the new age of technology and integrated business practices.

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.