The term Industry 4.0 signifies the fourth industrial revolution, encompassing emerging technology domains like the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI). It describes a more collaborative, software-driven industrial landscape in which analytics technology is used to increase automation and enable more efficient operations.
Experts forecast significant improvements in productivity and costs because of Industry 4.0 automation. There is also potential for traditional industrial models to adopt a digital approach, like transforming traditional standalone products into subscription service offerings for durable goods like tractors and smart machines in factories.
At the heart of Industry 4.0 are smart machines that share information with each other and can organize themselves to coordinate processes and meet deadlines. These machines communicate directly with IT systems– including those from ecosystem and supply chain partners– to enable an uninterrupted flow of information across end-to-end processes.
The IoT will play an important role in Industry 4.0, though the two should not be conflated. IoT concepts are central to Industry 4.0 because of the large volume of connected sensors and autonomous devices inherent to it. Alongside cyber-physical and robotized systems, the IoT provides a way to combine software, sensors, processors and communications for Industry 4.0 initiatives.
Further innovation in the form of AI and machine learning will augment the data flows collected from sensor networks. This will add to the role connectivity plays in supporting Industry 4.0. Enabling Industry 4.0 will require a new level of scalability, with billions of devices that need to be deployed, activated, configured, maintained, managed and billed for. And though data payloads may not consume massive bandwidth, the volume will be immense and will be coupled with data- and application-specific requirements like ultra-low latency or ultra-high resilience.
Because just a few cents difference in revenue per unit can determine a profit or loss, mass automation will quickly become a prerequisite for service providers. The traditional BSS/OSS stack must evolve to more of an automated platform, and in many cases away from its roots in systems that rely on manual processes.
Today's leading digital service providers are successful mainly because of their ability to provision and deploy services at scale. In a market that's expected to support billions of new connected devices, service providers need to adopt a new approach to software that leverages both automation and virtualization. As service providers transform, they have an opportunity to leverage an enormous Industry 4.0 market for their benefit.
Be sure to check out how Netcracker is enabling the IoT in order to propel service providers through Industry 4.0.
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