We are living in times of profound, accelerated and disruptive changes that are affecting and will radically affect any industry and all the companies that make up our industrial business fabric. Changes that are caused by the technological and digital revolution that has been developing since the end of the 20th century and that are making technologies such as 3D printing, virtual reality, big data, internet of things, robotics, sensorial or the appearance of new materials, are combining to give rise to the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The previous three introduced greater or lesser improvements in the production processes throughout the value chain, however, they did not have the transformative capacity that the interconnection of machines, products, suppliers and millions of consumers associated with it implies. The hybridization between the physical and digital worlds is giving rise to an industry that is capable of capturing, exploiting and using all the information flows, internal and external, related to its business.
It is giving rise to the smart industry. And we speak of the digital revolution because it is a change not only in production processes, or even in physical and logical production infrastructures, but because it represents a radical change in the way of doing business and in the type of product and service that our companies offer. industrial business. Digitization turns the “servitization” of industrial products into a fundamental opportunity to revitalize the industry, increasing its offer and competitiveness.
Digitization is undoubtedly an opportunity to improve the competitiveness of industry in an increasingly global world. Basically, because the use of new technologies has favoured the appearance of new competitive factors for the industry.
The use of these digital enablers makes it possible to increase the flexibility and agility of production processes in an increasingly uncertain context, increasing the flexibility of both its total value chain and its different links. All this allows companies to adapt profitably to the changing requirements of their customers, reducing the time to market or the delivery time of their products or allowing the production of short or even unit series, opening the door to the concept of Mass “customization”.
But the new competitive factors of the industry go beyond the use of new technological enablers in the improvement of production processes either in their entirety or in any of the links of the value chain: they range from the optimization of logistics chains or the transformation of commercialization channels to the configuration of valuable industrial ecosystems and the use of collaborative methods to promote innovation in order to give rise to disruptive innovations in a shorter time.
Faced with this new paradigm, what should be the objective of the industry? Achieve an industrial model in which innovation is collaborative, production means are connected, supply chains are integrated and distribution and service channels are digital. In short, a smart and connected industry.
This challenge requires working on several fronts simultaneously.
It is necessary to promote the development of collaborative environments between industry, the technology sector and the research-academic field that allow the generation of synergies that give rise to disruptive innovations. The digital transformation process requires collaboration across the entire value chain, as no company can tackle this challenge alone.
We must tackle the challenge of training as soon as possible. It is essential to adapt training programs and plans to digital skills, since the change that is coming in the profiles and types of work, as we know them today, will have a great impact. New kinds of work and new professions are being created. In this new world paradigm, more than ever before in human history, education and the ability to learn will be one of the true competitive advantages of countries.
And of course, we must establish a strategy to support companies in their digital transformation process. The lack of technical capabilities, the belief that these are very expensive and complex technologies or their isolation from specialized technical groups and companies that can support their transformation, are very heavy burdens to drive their digital transformation into the digital revolution. Many companies are still not aware of the need to incorporate a digital culture in their organizations. Industry 4.0 affects people and their capabilities, business strategies, products and their configuration, and not just the technologies they use in their manufacturing process. The industrial company needs to think about the disruptive potential of technology to rethink its business, their way of working and relating to the environment and the competition.