For more than two decades, new developments in information and communication technology have penetrated businesses and the workplace. In the 1990s, digitisation effected individual work places and individual business processes, but after the millennium digitisation began to effect entire companies and administrations. In this phase, there were many different solutions implemented, most of which were not compatible or integrated. Since then, there has been a desire to implement consistent solutions which aim to integrate these previously isolated digital processes.
The term “Industry 4.0” refers to a recent network between business, research, politics and unions at all levels of operation and across the entire value chain. The main aim is to create a truly flexible individualised flow of outputs from the perspective of the customer.
The term “Work 4.0” signifies the desire to create an increasing number of work sub-processes over the (virtual) network, integrate them and make them legally binding.
The ultimate goal, is to reach the full automation of processes in the virtual space of information. To reach this outcome new electronic tools connected to the network need to be developed. Some of these tools already exist under names such as: “Internet of Things”, Cyber Physical System (CPS), RFID, cloud computing, wearable technology (“smart clothes”), nanotech sensors and actuators, software, e-signatures, Big Data, Smart Factory, Smart Grid, and so on.
Photo credit: “www.colourbox.com”. Material used in the preparation of this article has been drawn from Offensive Mittelstand.