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Upcoming Tech Explosion Forces Industries to Go Big or Go Home

How soon should a company start digitalizing? It may already be too late.
By Ankush Tiwari
May 09, 2018

Industry 4.0 is at its greatest inflection point. Digital technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), machine learning (ML), big data and robotics are disrupting almost every layer of the enterprise to make it more evolved, customer-friendly and efficient. AI-driven predictive maintenance is already saving huge operating costs for manufacturers. Interconnected products and ecosystems and the process of automation lie at the heart of a company's success.

Most industries and businesses have already recognized this trend and are preparing themselves for digitization—as is reflected in the significant rise in information and communication technology (ICT) spending taking place. According to IDC, ICT spending will jump from $4.3 trillion in 2016 to $5.6 trillion by 2021. That growth equates to a 6 percent compound annual growth rate. Companies that are yet to make a roadmap in digitalization run the risk of becoming completely irrelevant or falling way behind competitors.

Why Go Digital?
According to Gartner, companies risk losing a minimum of 25 percent of their business due to a weak digital business model. Technologies like AI, ML and robotics help companies to redefine business models—enhancing and creating value, increasing both quality and efficiency, and digitally remastering the way to put great minds at work.

1. Predictive Maintenance: Unplanned machine downtimes and failures are chronic problems that incur heavy costs for manufacturing companies across the world. Sending technicians to repair a machine after it stops working means loss of production, critical man hours and precious manufacturing money. However, the proliferation of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) systems is helping manufacturers to transform economies and achieve a new level of competitiveness.

By aggregating real-time data from sensors installed on the machinery and equipment, manufacturers can track current machine operational status and also receive alerts if there is a possibility of any failures or unplanned downtime. All these factors can contribute to enhancing operational efficiencies and increasing revenues.

2. Enhanced Customer Service: The IoT, coupled with AR, is helping companies to set new benchmarks in customer service. Companies that have their products and equipment distributed across different locations often face a challenge with after-sales service or troubleshooting. Usually, these companies have field-service executives that visit different locations for troubleshooting or servicing the equipment.

Often, these field executives or technicians must spend a great amount of time going back and forth with back-office experts for more complex problems, or refer to technical guides or tedious repair manuals. The IoT and AR can help field-service executives in many ways. Through the use of wearables such as smart glasses, technicians can work hands-free and even work remotely with back-office experts.

Field technicians can also share real-time photos and videos through shared visuals and even create a handholding mechanism with back-office personnel, thereby making troubleshooting quick and seamless. Faster and more efficient customer service not only saves huge costs for the company, but also ensures greater customer satisfaction and higher customer retention—which, in turn, result in higher profits.

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