The business world is still getting to grips with the idea of business 4.0 but hold on to your hats because industry 5.0 is just around the corner.
First came machines, then came electricity, computers and the internet. The industry has continually reinvented itself with new technology and fresh thinking, but as we enter the digital world the pace is accelerating. No sooner have businesses started talking about industry 4.0, than some are already moving towards what’s being termed 5.0.
The history of industry has been one of continuous evolution. First came the industrial revolution as machines replaced people as the primary means of production. Then came industry 2.0, the technical revolution, as electricity-powered a boom of productivity and invention.
In the 60s we moved into the digital revolution with the rise of computers, before the rise of the internet and automation took us into industry 4.0. This is an age of AI and machine learning in which machines start to work autonomously, delivering products faster and more cheaply.
This is the world we live in. It’s a digital economy that has introduced us to exciting developments such as big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT). It has given us automation, the smart factory and digital transformation in which technology is embedded into the very fabric of a company’s DNA.
This is where business is today, but adoption is patchy. While some of the biggest companies in the world implemented it years ago, small and medium-sized businesses are still catching up. A BDO report in 2019 found that only 5% of businesses had already made the move or were currently doing so.
For many, then, industry 4.0 is something they’re still getting to grips with. So, it might seem over-ambitious to start talking about 5.0. Cynics might dismiss it as being yet another industry buzzword, but this is the future and, in some cases, it’s here now.
In many ways, industry 5.0 looks and feels very much like 4.0. It still talks about digital technology, automation, and AI. However, this takes everything a step further by adding a few crucial ingredients which are currently missing from 4.0, namely humans and creativity.
For all the benefits of AI, machine learning and all the other technologies which power the transformative world of 4.0, they still lack the creative element which makes humans special. AI can only mimic human intelligence, it can’t replace it.
As things stand, it is limited. It’s good for repetitive tasks or analysing large quantities of data. For example, AI can spot trends in a vast dataset which humans might miss. In the financial world, robot advisors are often being used instead of human traders because of their superior data analytics capacity. The hope is that they might be able to process much more data, more quickly, than their human counterparts, and identify trends a person might miss.
Even so, there is a problem. With few exceptions, robot advisers have not been shown to consistently outperform their human counterparts because they lack the intuition which gives the human trader a bit of an edge. A skilled trader will be able to draw on his or her experience to make a judgement about what will and will not make a good investment.
It is this final step that is holding AI back. A report from Forrester finds that, although 58% of businesses are investigating AI systems, only 12% have actually made the leap.
The problem is simple to articulate, but tricky to solve. Creativity is devilishly difficult to simulate via a machine. For that, you need the intuition, imagination and lateral thinking which only a human can truly provide.
The goal of industry 5.0, then, is to bring the human and machine elements together to deliver something truly spectacular.
In many ways, it restores something which many people feel was lost with the rise of machines and automation: the power of the craftsman. Automation and mass production supercharged productivity, but stifled creativity.
In industry 5.0 the aim is to bring craftsmanship back into the process by combining the speed of machines and AI with the creative thinking of individuals.
The most immediate output from this is personalisation, the ability to mass-produce products and deliver services that are uniquely tailored to each individual. This will have a massive impact on manufacturing and other industries that rely on design and customer experience.
It is responding to a demand for greater customisation of services and products. People want to be able to tailor everything they buy to their own needs and are willing to pay a little more to do so. Those companies which can offer mass personalisation in this way will gain a crucial competitive advantage.
Likewise, in the age of digital technology, some businesses will find themselves struggling to keep up. Staying still is dangerous. If a competitor has embraced 5.0, they can offer better products more quickly and affordably than you can. They can respond to customers’ demands for personalisation and deliver what they want, when they want it at a price they can afford.
In such a situation, it becomes increasingly difficult for a traditional business still stuck in the age of industry 3.0 or 4.0 to compete. A change, therefore, is not only desirable, but it is also vital to an organisation’s future survival.
Already, some companies have elements of 5.0 in place. Robots are collaborating with humans in many areas of business and manufacturing. Machines have been developed which are safe to use around humans which can take over heavy-duty tasks which might be dangerous or time consuming for people to operate.
What will really set this up will be the arrival of 5G, the next generation of mobile internet. Just as 4G represented a leap from 3G, so 5G will be very different from 4G. With a 5G connection, speeds go through the roof. It will be able to support hundreds of connected devices with each using up to 1ghz of bandwidth. Devices will be able to be connected regardless of whether there is any wireless connectivity available.
The possibilities are potentially endless: AI, IoT, and even driverless cars. These will need to handle a constant stream of data and build highly detailed pictures of road surfaces and layouts. Until now, a 4G world means it’s difficult to reliably handle all that data.
Underpinning all this, though, will be services which manage the data and shepherd it into a management format such as data labelling. This will require vast amounts of data to be labelled in a very short time to ensure AI systems can take visual information and transfer it into usable and recognisable information.
This is an extensive and laborious task and is something many teams will be unable to do inhouse, which is why outsourced service providers will become more valuable. They can provide an offshore team to handle all your data labelling requirements.
High speed, high-quality services such as sign, polygon or semantic labelling, give systems all the information they need to deliver next-generation services. It can be slow and hard work, but it requires the input of specialists to ensure the fast throughput and perfect accuracy.
Even a small mistake could lead to disaster for a driverless car. For example, an error in data labelling might cause it to misidentify a child as something it needn’t avoid.
All of this may be daunting for businesses which are still getting to grips with the concept of industry 4.0, but it is very definitely where the world of business is heading. Innovation is accelerating and businesses face a constant battle to keep up.