4IR: beyond the buzzwords

Nicholas Leeder explored what it takes to implement and transform for the next industrial revolution during his keynote at The Manufacturer Leaders Conference this morning.. 

Stock - 4ir skills recruitment workforce staff employee - front office and back office.4IR buzzwords are floating around everywhere in companies and in different industry sectors, said Nicholas Leeder – former director of PLM and standards at SKF Group.

The technological progress has generated a huge amount of new technologies within the past 12 months. The Microsoft HoloLens has become almost ubiquitous, appearing on trade show floors across the globe.

Leeder commented: “More than half of companies, 58%, realise that digitalisation is not only important for the growth of their business, but inevitable for its very survival.”

However, the flipside is that only 15% are embracing digitalisation and less than 5% running digital technologies.

Leeder noted that it was shocking how global companies are currently rated in terms of their predictive maintainance skills.

Main criteria, institutes follow to determine if a company embraces new technologies are based on Google search, how often theese skills are mentioned in the press and if their are part of a job title.

As we are in the middle of a “digital gold rush” and machine performance is no longer enough. Leeder added: “It is important to rethink a whole new approach, consisting of a strategy which emphasises the four pillars: connectivity, collect, correlate and collaborate.”

One of the main mistakes currently regarding embracing digital technologies is that people mix up the terms ‘digitised’ and ‘digital’.

Leeder said: “Every file on our computer is digitised, but to really understand the word ‘digital’ is “as impossible as it is to smell the number nine.”

Every company needs to go through precise digital readiness levels, and “to start the journey, the strategy has to be simplified and being brought from the board to the job floor.

Leeder concluded: “The digital has to become physical, only that way it is possible to truly understand the value of an organisation.”