• Teri Christian

What is Industry 4.0?

We tend to think of civilization as being an event that happened eons ago. The earliest signs of civilization date back thousands of years, encompassing things like central government, economies, spoken and written communication, and culture and religion. But the reality is that civilization is actually a work in progress ― a never-ending evolution of society and technology and the intersection between the two.


We’re watching a new era of civilization unfold before our very eyes in the form of Industry 4.0. It will become a moment in time that future generations will study and read about in history books — and even change how they learn about and interact with history.


Here’s a quick overview of Industry 4.0 and how it’s changing the course of civilization as we know it.


Industry 4.0: Simply Explained

The Industrial Revolution of the mid-1700s was a huge turning point for our society, shifting the focus away from agriculture and changing how people worked, lived, and learned. Since then, our society has seen a few notable iterations of the Industrial Revolution, with the most recent (and currently ongoing) Industry 4.0.


Industry 4.0 can then be defined as the process of marrying automation, machine learning, big data, and real-time connectivity to the many moving parts of our daily lives. Or simply put the 4th Industrial Revolution.




For example, Industry 4.0 takes the computers that emerged in Industry 3.0 (more on this in another blog post) and empowers them with automation and machine learning. It reduces the need for manual input and allows computers to communicate with each other to share data and create insights from that data. Human involvement is minimized.


In turn, this interconnectedness of machines makes the smart factory a reality. And eventually, smart cities. And perhaps, a global intelligence boost.


The Impact of Industry 4.0 on Modern Civilization

While “Revolutions” are most commonly associated with manufacturing, they also have an impact on other areas of our lives — including how we interact with the world around us. Digital technologies have brought a significant transformation in the way goods are made, services are acquired, information is discovered, and ideas are communicated.


As shared in my book, Digital Operations: How to Survive and Thrive in the Industry 4.0 Jungle, the Digital Revolution of the last 10 years or so is powering a 4.0 economy that is disrupting civilization at a much faster rate than previous revolutions:


“This revolution has brought the development of machine-to-machine communication, the Internet of Things, big data analytics, and machine learning. The way everyone lives, shops, works, and learns is being disrupted at an exponential rate. This era requires us to rethink and rewire our habits, behaviors, and fundamental beliefs to compete in the new world.”


Stay tuned for the next blog in this series, Becoming Industry 4.0, to learn more about how we got to this point and where we might be going from here.

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