Industry 4.0

We must enter into a new era of leadership. By 2020, Millennials (those born between about 1980 and 2000) could be half of the US workforce, and by 2025, 75 percent of the global workforce.This is a generation that has completely grown up on digital. That kind of mindset is very different from the command and control of years gone by. And as industry changes and moves into version 4.0, leadership has to make a similar transition. But first, we need to see the era of Industry 4.0 that is creating the need for Leadership 4.0.
As a history lesson, here’s a look at the previous three industrial revolutions:
  • Industry 1.0: The First Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States, in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, the increasing use of steam power and water power, the development of machine tools and the rise of the mechanized factory system. The Industrial Revolution also led to an unprecedented rise in the rate of population growth.
  • Industry 2.0: The Second Industrial Revolution was a period of rapid industrial development, primarily in Britain, Germany and the United States, but also in France, the Low Countries, Italy and Japan. While the First Revolution was marked by the introduction of such concepts as interchangeable parts and mass production, and was largely water-powered (especially in the United States), the Second was characterized by the build out of railroads, large-scale iron and steel production, widespread use of machinery in manufacturing, greatly increased use of steam power, widespread use of the telegraph, use of petroleum and the beginning of electrification. It also was the period during which modern organizational methods for operating large scale businesses over vast areas came into use.
  • Industry 3.0:  The Third Industrial Revolution appeared with the emergence of a new type of energy whose potential surpassed its predecessors: nuclear energy. This revolution witnessed the rise of electronics—with the transistor and microprocessor—but also the rise of telecommunications and computers. This new technology led to the production of miniaturized material which would expand capacity and user in new industries, most notably to space research and biotechnology. For industry, this revolution gave rise to the era of high-level automation in production thanks to two major inventions: automatons—programmable logic controllers (PLCs)—and robots..2
And now we have entered Industry 4.0, the code name given to the fourth industrial revolution. It represents the future of industry, where intelligent machines are self-aware and automation challenges can be solved by the machinery itself. right now, manufacturing and engineering industries are leading this revolution.Other industries must make this transition as well in order to survive. Only the most agile organizations will thrive, while those with one foot in the past will be left behind. To be successful, leaders and managers must put in place new strategic thinking to exploit business opportunities and respond to threats that are presented by these new, nimble and agile business.3
Industry 4.0 depends on a number of innovative technological developments that digitize information and integrate systems at all stages of product development and service life, both inside an organization and in a cross-organizational way. These processes work to monitor and control the physical processes and systems as well as support human workers by using robots, intelligent tools, and augmented reality.4 This is the Internet of Things (IoT) such as your smart watch, Nest thermostats, Siri, and Alexa, along with machine learning where robots literally learn to walk.5 But Industry 4.0 is on a much larger scale, controlling more and more of the development and production within organizations, freeing people to do different roles.
The easiest way to understand the Fourth Industrial Revolution is to focus on the technologies driving it. These include the following:
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) describes computers that can “think” like humans — recognizing complex patterns, processing information, drawing conclusions, and making recommendations. AI is used in many ways, from spotting patterns in huge piles of unstructured data to powering the autocorrect on your phone.
  • Blockchain is a secure, decentralized, and transparent way of recording and sharing data, with no need to rely on third-party intermediaries. The digital currency Bitcoin is the best known blockchain application. However, the technology can be used in other ways, including making supply chains traceable, securing sensitive medical data anonymously, and combating voter fraud.
  • New computational technologies are making computers smarter. They enable computers to process vast amounts of data faster than ever before, while the advent of the “cloud” has allowed businesses to safely store and access their information from anywhere with internet access, at any time. Quantum computing technologies now in development will eventually make computers millions of times more powerful. These computers will have the potential to supercharge AI, create highly complex data models in seconds, and speed up the discovery of new materials.
  • Virtual reality (VR) offers immersive digital experiences (using a VR headset) that simulate the real world, while augmented reality merges the digital and physical worlds. Examples include L’Oréal’s makeup app, which allows users to digitally experiment with makeup products before buying them, and the Google Translate phone app, which allows users to scan and instantly translate street signs, menus, and other text.
  • Biotechnology harnesses cellular and biomolecular processes to develop new technologies and products for a range of uses, including developing new pharmaceuticals and materials, more efficient industrial manufacturing processes, and cleaner, more efficient energy sources. Researchers in Stockholm, for example, are working on what is being touted as the strongest biomaterial ever produced.
  • Robotics refers to the design, manufacture, and use of robots for personal and commercial use. While we’re yet to see robot assistants in every home, technological advances have made robots increasingly complex and sophisticated. They are used in fields as wide-ranging as manufacturing, health and safety, and human assistance.
  • 3D printing allows manufacturing businesses to print their own parts, with less tooling, at a lower cost, and faster than via traditional processes. Plus, designs can be customized to ensure a perfect fit.
  • Innovative materials, including plastics, metal alloys, and biomaterials, promise to shake up sectors including manufacturing, renewable energy, construction, and healthcare.
  • The IoT describes the idea of everyday items — from medical wearables that monitor users’ physical condition to cars and tracking devices inserted into parcels — being connected to the internet and identifiable by other devices. A big plus for businesses is that they can collect customer data from constantly connected products, allowing them to better gauge how customers use products and tailor marketing campaigns accordingly. There are also many industrial applications, such as farmers putting IoT sensors into fields to monitor soil attributes and inform decisions such as when to fertilize.
  • Energy capture, storage, and transmission represent a growing market sector, spurred by the falling cost of renewable energy technologies and improvements in battery storage capacity.6
So Industry 4.0 is often spoken in terms of the digital technology, rather than the employees. In fact, the technology of Industry 4.0 scares many employees, fearing it will replace their jobs. But that’s where leadership 4.0 can play a big and important part of how Industry 4.0 is integrated into a new working life.7
And that’s where we will begin in the next post. What is leadership 4.0?


  1. The (Millennial) Workplace of the Future Is Almost Here — These 3 Things Are About to Change Big Time.
  2. The 4 industrial revolutions
  3. Leadership 4.0: training for revolution.
  4. Leadership 4.0: Digital Leaders in the Age of Industry 4.0 – INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP WWW.AIMIJOURNAL.COM
  5. The Clever Clumsiness of a Robot Teaching Itself to Walk.
  6. What Is the Fourth Industrial Revolution? What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution and why you should care – Salesforce Blog
  7. Leadership 4.0 and Why You Need to Know About it.

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Industry 4.0
Episode 1