World Economic Forum Discovers Manufacturing Strategy
Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things describe manufacturing strategy as much as technology. But as I occasionally write here and write daily on my spiritual practices blog, there is a people side to all this technology and strategy.
Technologists (most people reading this site) tend to talk technology. Then they get carried away and think that technology will replace all need for people. Hence the science fiction writing and movies on that theme.
Arianna Huffington (the Huffington Post) attended the recent gathering of the world’s elite in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum. She discovered manufacturing and Industry 4.0. But she wrote a book on the power of getting enough sleep for your essential health. She managed to weave a story from both threads.
The dominant topic of discussion this year — both inside the talks and panels and outside, as well — was transition. Klaus Schwab, the Forum’s founder and executive chairman, captured this sense — the possibilities as well as the challenges — with this year’s theme, the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Schwab describes this new period as “the fusion of technologies across the physical, digital and biological worlds which is creating entirely new capabilities and dramatic impacts on political, social and economic systems.” It’s an era of automation, constant connectivity, and accelerated change, in which the Internet of Things meets the Smart Factory.
Yes, this new manufacturing strategy, which I must say seems to focus on what we call discrete manufacturing (think autos, airplanes), seeks to go deeper in employing digital technologies. In many ways it is following the lead of process industries (they hate the word manufacturing even though that is a government classification) which always seems to lead in applying math and rigor to its processes.
She continues, quoting Mark Benioff of Salesforce about people and technology:
If the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be defined by speed, connectivity, and change, there’s also a need for a countervailing force. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said, “Speed is the new currency of business.” But as he also said, the Fourth Industrial Revolution begins with trust, which has been at the heart of business as long as business has existed — and will only become more important in our more transparent ever-faster-moving world. Benioff’s point exemplified a larger truth of this year’s Forum, that far from being add-ons, a focus on trust, transparency, purpose, and a deeper kind of connection are central to meaningful success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
I’ve been writing about trust and transparency on my other blog this week. Sometimes we forget basic human values in our pursuit of either technology or profits.
Oh, yes, and she adds that we all need enough sleep each night to perform at our peak. You can go buy her book–or sleep on it.