Microsoft recently released a document entitled "2019 Manufacturing Trends Report" where it highlights a number of their views on how the emerging world of Industry 4.0, IoT and Data Science will impact major parts of today's production industry. The interesting thing is that the report combines the company's own experience in this emerging domain with a vast amount of information gathered by well known 'Market Analysis' moguls like Gartner, MarketsandMarkets, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, PwC, Deloitte, McKinsey, Capgemini, Boston Consulting Group and the like. The main value of the Microsoft report I find lies in the fact that it steps away from the high-level, fluffy and conceptual lingo often employed by those professional market researchers, and starts introducing a number of practical cases the people on the floor, like operators, line managers or maintenance professionals can relate to. This is an essential step in transforming this promise of the fourth industrial revolution from a popular topic in the ubiquitous 'Visionary Seminars' into a series of concrete implementations that have a positive impact on a company's daily operations.
Indeed: the image of 'The industrial revolution' is a blessing as well as a curse for today's companies. The outcome of this revolution is promised to be gigantic: a massive turnaround, overthrowing entire lines of business. The reality however is that today only a limited number of applications of Industry 4.0 has reached such a status yet. Some see this as a proof that this vision may as well be a fake one. They can however not be more wrong! As with most things in life, such a drastic change doesn't happen overnight. It is the result of a series of small steps, limited modifications, that over time all start having a positive impact on each other. This interaction in turn results in a further acceleration and a few months or years later the resulting true radical disruption suddenly becomes apparent to the outside world. At that moment the non-believers will only be left with the option to stare, in awe, at how their industry has changed forever without them being part of it.