Industry 4.0: What it means for your business
Six tips for Industry 4.0 adoption
The best advice for adopting Industry 4.0 technologies in your business is to start small and keep implementation simple. Follow these six tips to get digital transformation underway:
- Assess your readiness to adopt digital technologies and the implications for your business strategy by using tools such as the Digital Readiness Level tool or 4Manufacturing diagnostics tool. These will provide insights on areas to prioritise to improve your business productivity.
- Develop a digital roadmap to help plan decisions and implications across your business - eg technology, processes, investments, skills and re-training. Be clear about how you will work collaboratively with suppliers, customers and partners across the value chain.
- Prepare for the practicalities of digital transformation. Find the talent you need and, if it's not readily available, find ways of developing it within your business. Bolster your infrastructure, secure the necessary capital and allocate resources to manage and implement your digital project. Engage with your workforce at an early stage to gain buy-in - this can be critical if you need to, for example, re-skill staff to enable them to use new technologies.
- Gradually move beyond operational upgrades to your legacy systems. Seek opportunities to pilot new digital technologies that can drive innovation as well as operational efficiencies in your business.
- Invest in the future - don't neglect long term opportunities for innovation and value creation in pursuit of short term objectives. Transformative benefits often take time to accrue.
- Finally, avoid investing in technology for its own sake. Yes, the Industry 4.0 technologies open up a range of possibilities, but not all of them will be equally valuable to your business. To ensure there's a return on your investment, be clear on what exactly you hope to transform, understand how the technology will enable this and evaluate whether it meets your specific strategy and business goals.
Northern Ireland businesses with high potential for digital transformation may be able to get support - including access to workshops, masterclasses and specialist mentoring - from the fully-funded Digital Surge Programme.
Support may also be available through the Help to Grow: Digital Scheme for those small and medium-sized businesses that wish to adopt digital technologies to increase productivity.