Industry 4.0 and the digital society: concepts, dimensions and envisioned benefits

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Abstract

There is a considerable amount of interest in Industry 4.0, the so-called 4fh industrial revolution, however, the concept is not clear in the literature. This research by performing a literature review on Industry 4.0, aims to present an overview of the several industrial revolutions with emphasis on Industry 4.0 and its underlined dimensions. Industry 4.0 is characterized by the advanced digitalization and integration of industrial manufacturing and logistics processes, and the use of internet and “smart” objects (machines and products) and merging the physical and the virtual worlds by the adoption of information and communications technology (ICT). Industry 4.0 fosters novel human and production organization systems and new organizational business models, impacting the overall value chain, society and the environment. Contributions for such new business models that can support Industry 4.0 are proposed with envisioned potential benefits such as shorter operations cycle times, quick delivery times, faster time to market of new products and services, improved quality, and product/service customization, stronger consumer involvement and loyalty. Industry 4.0 can help organizations to address new and emerging markets by a differentiation strategy, or even create new disruptive business models. However, it is still in the early stages for most companies and the digital transformation will require a strong leadership, the right human competences and to overcome several barriers, for its successful implementation. And while this will lead to a significant improvement in job creation, there will be also considerable job losses for Employees with low skill levels. Considering that in 2015, only 14% of Small and Medium Enterprises were using internet channel and 40% of the European Union companies still had not adopted any of the new advanced digital technologies, there is a great need to further research Industry 4.0 drivers and success factors.

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