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Industry 4.0

Why Tech Is Bringing Big Changes to Almost Every Major Industry


Richard Soley

Executive Director, Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC)

Industry 4.0 is bringing about a host of “smart” technologies that will transform the way business gets done. Richard Soley, executive director of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), weighed in on what we can expect from the Industrial Internet of Things.

Industry 4.0 is a broad term that impacts multiple industries. Can you speak to which industries you think are most affected by technological change?

Without question all industries are affected by Industry 4.0 or, as we call it, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). IIoT enables new business models (especially service instead of product), better machine surveillance and maintenance, and more rapid response to real-time inputs. Together with big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and cloud computing technologies, IIoT is transforming healthcare, government services, smart cities, production, manufacturing, smart buildings, and agriculture. The earliest adoption has been in the field of manufacturing, but we’re seeing more and more precision agriculture activities lately.

When businesses and consumers see the term “smart building,” what should they think of? Does the smart building five years into the future look different than it does now?

Imagine a building that “knows” you’re pulling into your parking space, turns on the light and heat in your office, redirects calls from your mobile phone to your desk, checks you into work automatically, and does the reverse when you leave — that’s part of the building of the future. Together with predictive maintenance of large and small infrastructure, the IIC’s Deep Learning Testbed is capturing how a Toshiba building outside Tokyo (in Kawasaki) is used by its occupants, and is optimizing comfort and maintenance of that building in a project led by DellEMC. That’s essentially what a smart building will do for its owners.

Is there anything businesses should be aware of when starting to implement a digital transformation strategy? Are there common barriers to adoption that need to be addressed?

Digital transformation has the potential to affect everything in the company — from internal procedures to customer-facing products and services. It’s important to first consider principles: What are the company’s strengths and weaknesses? What do customers and prospects consider the same of the company? Then choose an important, but relatively small, project to start and don’t forget to look at the IIC Resource Hub ( to see what has already been learned already by the IIC’s testbeds and working groups.

The IIC has been conducting studies surrounding Industry 4.0 for quite some time. Can you speak to the findings from your test beds?
Fortunately, the IIC’s testbed programs and working groups have unearthed quite a few best practices and likely requirements for new standards in several years of IIC operations. White papers exploring these issues and result papers from the testbeds can be found at, and don’t miss the free Resource Hub for help with your first project!

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