The Next Industrial Revolution

Cover Story of Perspectives on Manufacturing Industries 2016/1

Contrary to common belief, “digital industry” is not about technology.

Technology will be an enabler, but the true value of the next industrial revolution is that it will lead to better decisions, more efficient processes, and new business models. Digital industry will dramatically transform the way industrial companies operate, with results over the next 10-15 years comparable to the introduction of mass production at the beginning of the twentieth century and to lean and reengineering toward its end.

The evolution of industry

The next generation of production technology is just starting to be rolled out: big data analytics, virtual environments/simulation software, broader connectivity, collaborative robots and connected objects, machine-tomachine (M2M) communication, and new manufacturing techniques like 3D printing. This wave of innovation is all part of what is known as “digital industry.”

In terms of value generation, however, a recent Oliver Wyman study projects that the hardware and software will matter less than the “application layer” – the business models, processes, analytics, and decision making that this technology will enable. This is not a new pattern: In the three prior modern industrial revolutions, novel technology triggered a fundamental change in the way industrial companies operated.

The Next Industrial Revolution