Industry 4.0:

Time to grab the secret saucepan and add a few essential spices



It is all too easy to get over-excited not only by the digital economy and Industry 4.0, but also by the many exciting new technologies associated with it, from IoT, AR, VR and AI, to blockchain and cryptocurrencies or even rapid prototyping.

Each new technology is accompanied by a wave of hype predicting how it will become the ‘secret sauce’ that will change the world and create opportunities for the next disruptive tech unicorn to follow AirBNB and Uber.

There is a difference however between the foundation technologies that will underpin the entire revolution and some of the other important but more peripheral technologies involved. For example, cloud computing may be over a decade old now, but it is the foundational technology that is essential for so many other technologies from IoT to AI.

Data from IoT devices is stored on the cloud before being analysed using big data analytics and then used to refine AI outcomes. The cloud plays an essential foundational role for the whole process. Likewise Blockchain is a foundational technology on which Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies rely. Bitcoin has also been around for a decade now, and if it were going to take over the word or become part of the essential fabric of the way that we work, as cloud has over this period, then it would have done so by now. Blockchain on the other hand will be around long after we’ve moved on from Bitcoin.

At the same time a new pressure is being applied to the tech sector – digital ethics and data privacy, which has been identified by Gartner as one of the top trends for 2019. In some firms it is being driven from the top down as we have seen with the CEO of Apple and his advocacy in favour of privacy regulation. Elsewhere it has also been driven from the bottom up, as we saw with Google employees calling for the firm to withdraw its AI technology from the Pentagon’s JEDI cloud contract. And Microsoft employees have more recently called for the firm to do the same. Whether applied from the top or from the bottom (or both), digital ethics and data privacy will have a massive impact across the industry as we have already seen with Facebook, which was caught on the wrong side of the issue.

So before you get caught up in the next wave of hype, or in someone’s claims of a new revolution based on some kind of secret sauce, ask yourself this...

...Is it based on a foundational technology like cloud or a more peripheral one like Bitcoin? – you don’t want to be focused on the secret sauce as it may just be a flash in the pan.

Instead look at the foundational technology that acts as a saucepan for many different sauces and approach it from a perspective of digital ethics and data privacy which are the new essential spices flavouring every sauce.

Headshot of Bill Mew

Bill Mew, Cloud Strategist and Influencer, is a leading advocate for digital ethics and digital transformation: as well as campaigning for data privacy and other ethical issues in technology, he is an evangelist for transformational value that technology can provide. One of the top global influencers for a range of topics including #Privacy, #Govtech and #Cloud, he appears almost weekly on broadcast TV and Radio, and is a prolific author of articles and blogs as well as being exceedingly socially engaged.

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