“Fourth Industrial Revolution” is in the news. What is it, exactly?
Election season is in full swing in the United States, and perhaps one of the more unexpected talking points to grab headlines following the latest round of debates is the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” — also known commonly in the networking world as Industry 4.0.
Politics aside, this “revolution” truly does represent a major shift in the ways we think about work, interact with each other, and even behave as consumers. While many people will just assume “it’s about computers, right?” Industry 4.0 really goes much deeper.
It represents the widespread emergence of “smart technology” that, in a few short years has infiltrated every corner of our day-to-day lives. These are the machines that intelligently interact with humans and each other, like the Amazon Echo that syncs up all of your household technologies from your refrigerator to your thermostat to your entertainment system.
In strictly “industrial” terms, however, this often comes to mean automation – a term that has taken on a specific political cachet, but whose true definition isn’t a malignant force, or even really something that’s wholly unnatural in concept. While many people will point to automation as a “job killer,” it’s really just another case of new technology refocusing the areas of production and manufacturing where humans need to play a significant role – like steam power and the cotton gin before it.
For instance, while machines may now occupy high-production factory floors and production lines that were once filled with workers, remote teams of human employees are now overseeing assembly from a safer distance, leveraging a new skillset that embraces the “digital-first” instincts of the latest generation to enter the workforce.
In fact, a Wall Street Journal report found that there are almost a million IT and tech job openings that have gone unfilled because there is so much new technology that needs human support in nearly every industry vertical – from software engineers managing highly-distributed industrial networks, to designers making game-changing digital health-care monitors.
Tying all of this together is the ability of employers and manufacturers to connect the people, machines, and software they need to work in a highly-distributed, highly- automated world. While centralized IT teams may not be available to staff every branch office within an enterprise network, for instance, they can leverage performance monitoring and management solutions that can be their “eyes and ears” on the ground at each location, regardless of the geographical barriers.
Industry 4.0: New Tech, New Apps, New Industry
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Filed Under: industry insights