Industry 4.0 – state of affairs: New value creation models call for fresh new thinking
Digitization and the Internet of Things continue to change our everyday life. Many products no longer merely consist of hardware that carries out the majority of the functions. The huge importance of the software and intelligent programming, as well as links to other devices or objects, have gained in importance. Companies like Google, Apple and Amazon have long since left the earlier giants such as Kodak, Nokia and Sony in their wake. Anyone who drops the ball when it comes to the digital transformation has missed the biggest trend of the age and will probably soon be losing ground if they don’t take significant measures to counteract the problem. That’s why the subject of digital transformation is currently at the top of the agenda at all large and well-known companies. Competitors from outside the industry often threaten well-established companies because they know customers better or have been faster to understand and implement the trend. Thanks to its highly complex algorithms, Google knows many customers better than actual service providers who, although they look after their customers, do not carry out any systematic evaluation and rarely have any taste for future tech. One example to the contrary is the food delivery chain Lieferando: no restaurant or fast-food chain knows more about the preferences of its customers than this platform. The fact that customer preferences (for organic food, only fish, Indian etc.) can be turned into benefits for potential suppliers of the corresponding products is a logical next step.
Huge potential for new business ideas
The technical possibilities are numerous and offer extensive opportunities in all sectors for changing existing business models. Many companies, however, are not aware of the advanced value creation potential that is available thanks to IoT. The technology behind IoT serves primarily as an enabler to make new business models possible.
Often, IT decision makers consider the Internet of Things only from a technical perspective. They often have a hard time convincing other stakeholders of the sense of what is technically possible and that digital innovations may de facto even lead to new business models (ergo to increased sales).
The Industry 4.0 vision of the future requires thinking outside the established framework and thus also means seeking new partners in other industries to explore potential new fields for value creation.
The transformation of many business processes – and increasingly within existing production areas – creates a well-founded basis for diverse collaborations which go far beyond the hitherto existing fields of business. For many companies, a changed value creation strategy may indeed be a decisive advantage over competing low-wage countries. Here the focus is no longer solely on the product or the sale of high-quality products, but rather digital marketing based on the associated merits, i.e. services, software applications (if required) plus regular updates, fast and flexible local availability as well as a guarantee of customer-friendly use.
Innovative thinkers required
Along with innovative business ideas and sophisticated value-creation chains, it is also important to have the right kind of thinkers on board. These are not only technically savvy professionals and executives, such as: chief digital officers, data architects, digital project managers, data engineers, chief customer officers, chief Internet of Things officers, data scientists, or chief analytics officers. Professional or segment-external strategists are quite able to plan new and innovative business models and to see them through the maturation process. They have an unbiased eye for potential outside the already existing value creations.
Technical change doesn’t just happen on its own. It must be implemented and expedited by innovators, technically implemented by the IT staff and supported by all employees.