5 Tips to Thrive in the Age of Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0, also known as the fourth industrial revolution, is here today, and it is causing dramatic shifts in how businesses operate. What started as a marketing buzzword is now among the key drivers of change across a whole host of industries – especially manufacturing.

Underpinned by technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT), the rise of Industry 4.0 is continuing to gather increasing momentum. Indeed, KPMG suggested that the component markets of Industry 4.0 will be worth a combined $4 trillion by 2020, highlighting just how much there is at stake.

Progress waits for no one, and everyone is frantically trying to keep up with the latest market developments as well as with their competition. The pressure on businesses today is well and truly on.

To best thrive in the age of Industry 4.0, here are five top tips for businesses to consider while you evaluate your business strategies moving forward.

Become Data-Driven

With IoT becoming more prominent in the workplace, collecting and analysing vast amounts of data will form the backbone of future business. From enabling predictive maintenance in manufacturing to providing added value for clients in professional services, being data-driven will be key.

The future of manufacturing will lie in the creation of ‘smart factories’ that use data from connected systems to optimise efficiency and minimise downtime. For example, manufacturers will be able to predict when failures are likely to occur by analysing historical trends, as well as using the insights generated to shape future product development operations. A*STAR is already exploring what the future of manufacturing will look like through its Model Factory demonstrating platform that it co-developed with other industry players.

Ultimately, the more data that is analysed, the more informed your decisions will be. For every business, becoming data-driven and prioritising data analysis will therefore be essential to future success.

Look to the Region for Growth

Industry 4.0 is also proving to be a great leveller across multiple industries. Not only are technologies like cloud computing giving SMEs access to the computing power that was previously out of reach, increasing connectivity is also kicking globalisation into overdrive. We are now able to reach a wider audience than ever before – if we are prepared to think big. Nothing is out of reach and we should adopt an international mindset in order for our business to grow.

The current state of global politics and ensuing economic chaos from the fallout of the US-China trade war and Brexit means that we should look towards other sources for growth. With the OECD forecasting that GDP growth in Southeast Asia will outpace the global economy (5.2% vs 3.2%), there are many untapped opportunities in developing economies like Vietnam and Indonesia for businesses here to leverage.

Get Employees Digitally Ready

It’s no secret that the growing prominence of automation, AI and robotics are forcing human employees to change how they work. The jobs of tomorrow may be vastly different from what we are used to today, and we will need to gear ourselves up for this workplace revolution.

As a starting point, everyone, be it start-ups, scale-ups or enterprises, should all make sure their workforce has the required level of technical skills. This may involve running regular training programmes to help existing employees get up to speed with new technologies or recruiting people who already have the right expertise.

But the focus shouldn’t just be on technical skills. With software already starting to take over many of the more mundane, time-consuming tasks, ‘human’ skills such as creativity, critical thinking and communication will be key to the workplace of the future.

Use Technology to your Advantage

As businesses expand towards the region, additional administrative and operational workload, such as taxation and payroll, will be inevitable. The Sage productivity tracker has estimated that in 2019, Singapore businesses have already lost over S$2 billion worth of productive time due to administrative tasks.

With powerful software now available to help organisations streamline and automate administrative tasks, there is a way for companies to save this time and money. Investing in technology now to boost productivity will more than pay for itself in the future as you accrue your returns on investment through improved efficiency.

Adopt an Agile Mindset

In order to stay relevant in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, adaptability to change has become more important than ever. As such, business culture should be geared towards maximising productivity, which can play an important role in improving the customer experience and driving revenue.

This is where Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions can play a major role, connecting day-to-day activities across the entire company and providing essential insight into operations. For manufacturers specifically, all areas of the manufacturing process – from Materials and Inventory to Production, Operations and Accounting – can be integrated to give businesses owners greater insight in identifying areas of improvement. Businesses can make faster and more accurate decisions when reacting to market changes with this actionable intelligence and deliver better products or services to their customers.

While this may sound daunting, the good news is that businesses can go about fostering an agile mindset in many ways, from experimenting with new technologies to focusing on customer needs and implementing a culture of collaboration.

The era of Industry 4.0 is already underway and, with the pace of innovation showing no sign of slowing, we must act now if we want to take advantage of the huge potential that today’s connected world offers and keep up with our competition.

So, what are you waiting for?

Roy Sourov | Director | Professional Services | Sage Asia

Roy’s responsibilities include overseeing the region’s consulting practice and strategically guiding the efforts of a regional team to cater to customers’ and partners’ project implementation needs. Prior to joining Sage Asia, Roy was the Regional Consulting Director for Epicor Southeast Asia, responsible for managing its consulting practice. Partnering the Sales team, he worked on driving revenue growth and was charged with building capability and talent. Roy often speaks at industry seminars and conferences, on topics of customer acquisition and retention, and talent development.