‘Channeling’ Industry 4.0: Offense or Defense?

… virtually all other sectors as well. Manufacturing facilities (successful ones) are operationally sound with little waste. With the addition of IoT and AI, this segment will become the gold standard of how business operations are run, how emerging technology is consumed, and, perhaps most importantly, how talent (no, it’s not always about machines) is developed and acquired. You will begin to see banks and retail storefronts face business needs similar to those faced by large manufacturing facilities, staking their own claim in the fourth revolution. Therefore, I4 won’t solely focus on industrial markets, but will affect consumer and commercial markets as well.

Where Is the Opportunity in the 4th Revolution?

  • IoT: Earlier, I stated that it was more about machine cooperation rather than automation. Automation is great but can be rigid in its meaning. AI allows automation to be extremely robust, creating a cooperative environment rather than a reactive one. This generates a lot of opportunity for I4 companies to enhance their current operations without overburdening their talent, but also creates threats into their infrastructure (which we will talk about in a bit).
  • Talent: Because of the need for more advanced technology strategies, the need for a specific type of employee emerges. Executives are very interested in investing in data visualization, such as business intelligence tools Domo or Tableau, as well as a user interface as a means to enable their employees to be more agile and make informed decisions faster to enhance their current operations. They are interested in tools that work to enable their employees to move faster and make more data-enriched decisions. Excel, while valuable, just doesn’t cut it.
  • Security: By reading this far, you can probably surmise that an obvious opportunity in I4 is security. If I4 companies want to preserve and protect their standing in the industry, they need to protect what they currently have. With the many vulnerabilities that IoT opens up (and manufacturing/logistics companies will consume a lot of IoT), security will be the first question for CIOs and CISOs. With everything connected, one compromised device means a compromised business, which means the future of the company isn’t safe. The security snowball grows quickly in I4.
  • Blockchain: Although our industry is still evolving this concept for cross-segment uses, it is to be noted in I4. Security and blockchain in I4 go hand-in-hand. If you think about the vast amount of information that passes between cooperating machines, the need for complete, accurate, secure and synced data will be vital to augment existing operations. It paves the way for machines to authenticate themselves with information on other machines with little interference from a user, not to mention it is a very secure way to maintain accurate records in a fast-paced environment. I wouldn’t be surprised if we started to see the term BChaaS (blockchain-as-a-service) emerge along with more and more providers of the service.

It’s not only serendipity that the “4” on the keyboard shares its space with the “$” sign. There are huge revenue opportunities for you and your business in Industry 4.0. These businesses will be templates for how others consume technology to augment their existing business operations, talent and quality. Seize the opportunity to enhance, preserve and enrich, not necessarily disrupt.

Bryan Reynolds is director of sales operations for TBI, where he leads an organization of more than 75 individuals who provide TBI’s partner community with back-office support ranging from quoting and solution design to implementation advocacy and project management. He pushes the boundaries of service by implementing ways to continuously add value for TBI’s agents. Bryan is an avid writer and speaker within the industry, serves as a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Channel Partners as well as a member of the board of directors for Channel NX2Z, an organization dedicated to the advocacy of the next generation of channel leaders. He was recently selected by Crain’s Chicago Business as one of Chicago’s Notable LGBTQ Executives and is TBI’s self-proclaimed “Chief Millennial Officer.” Follow Bryan on LinkedIn or @TBImasteragent on Twitter.

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