The following article is adapted from our new report, “Time for Industry 4.0: The nest stage in the data revolution”. Download a copy of the report here.


Manufacturers around the world face many challenges in the coming years, from the digital transformation of the global economy to the race to net zero carbon emissions – not to mention supply chain constraints and labour shortages, as well as the adoption of new technologies. Those manufacturers who are slow to adapt will find themselves losing business to competitors who are willing to push forward.

Those corporations that show business agility and operational resilience in the face of new disruptions in a post-Covid world – which involves rapid shifts in customer demand or pressure from investors to be more sustainable, reducing costs or boosting automation – will not only survive but thrive.

The global pandemic has been a valuable lesson: manufacturers have had to be flexible and nimble. It’s shown them what the ‘art of the possible’ is and how they can solve real-world business problems.

But this is only just the beginning. The fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, or 4IR, is transforming how businesses manufacture and deliver products. It is not just happening in small pockets, but across global supply chains. It is being facilitated by greater automation, robots, sensors, IoT and Edge devices, 5G networks, digital twins, cloud computing and machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Yet one of the great strategic opportunities for manufacturers today involves the use of data. Some CEOs and industry leaders have more actionable data on their personal fitness tracker than they do for their business. This needs to change.

Many manufacturing lines still look similar to those that operated a decade ago. Maintenance is manual, workers monitor machinery, setups for different product lines are done by hand. In reality, manufacturing is behind many other sectors. Legacy systems are rife. There are many proofs of concept or minimum viable products with Industry 4.0 that haven’t been scaled up or fully realised.

In a survey of over 1,300 manufacturing executives by BCG, only 17% said they had captured satisfactory value from data and analytics. Only 39% managed to scale data-driven use cases beyond the production process of a single product. The potential for a step change is huge. In fact, Industry 4.0 could create up to US$3.7 trillion in value for global manufacturing by 2025, according to McKinsey.

Leaders in manufacturing get this. They are already spearheading a data‑driven revolution. It’s not just about sweating capital assets more efficiently; data has the potential to drive productivity, new products and services, as well slash carbon emissions. A single digital system run on data represents the next step-change gain for manufacturers. It could drive new growth and profitability.

As we come out of this period of uncertainty, manufacturing is seeing renewed investment and interest. This is an exciting time for the sector, globally. Innovation is high on the agenda. Companies that have already adopted 4IR are seeing the benefits right now, not in the future.

Data, particularly Big Data, is at the heart of this process – you can’t improve what you don’t measure. It is at the core of smart manufacturing. Artificial intelligence is helping manufacturers unlock real-time operational visibility, and in turn, achieve improved process reliability and performance.

These are exciting times – which is why Inawisdom has put together a briefing paper to help manufacturers navigate Industry 4.0 and think about how to start, accelerate and future-proof their journey to digital transformation.

Many talk about becoming ‘data-driven,’ yet few have articulated it well. Businesses need to take a different approach. This starts with a focus on tangible business value – understanding where data can be used to drive new insights and how those insights can be applied to achieve business objectives or address key challenges.

It’s time for manufacturers to unlock the power of their data and take Industry 4.0 to the next level.


Our new report, Time for Industry 4.0: The next stage in the data revolution, features expert perspectives and real-life examples from industry leaders, to help manufacturers take the next step toward smarter, data-driven operations. Download the report today.