Why cloud-based B2B ecommerce will be vital for Industry 4.0
At this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland the agenda focused on how Industry 4.0 will not only change manufacturing, but business as a whole. Here, Robert Williams, Cloudfy’s CEO, says that the themes that emerged at Davos underscore how cloud-based business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce will be a key driver in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
We’re already helping our customers disrupt entire industries, says Williams, simplifying the supply chain and bringing products direct to market faster than ever before.”
Industrie 4.0 was originally the brainchild of the German government. It describes the future of information technology and automation. Through the Internet of Things (IoT) customers and manufacturers will be seamlessly interconnected through machine learning algorithms in the Cloud.
Manufacturers will be able to create a ‘digital twin’ of their entire environment – from their laboratories and factories to their sales outlets and product servicing. They will be able to design, simulate, and test in a virtual world before making a prototype or planning production.
We have already seen how B2B businesses that embrace Cloud-based E-commerce can use ‘big data’ to learn from their customers’ behaviour. They have been able to develop new business models, improve efficiency and deliver better customer service. Systems integration and artificial intelligence are already providing unprecedented levels of personalisation and improved forecasting.
Industry 4.0 will extend this learning culture throughout the whole supply chain to improve product development, production and distribution. Everything from the first customer touch-point to order fulfilment will become part of a single, very sophisticated learning cycle. One of the most important parts of the whole process will be the buyer interface.
When you include the growing importance of product servicing and parts to the manufacturer’s business portfolio it’s clear why the knowledge gained with every customer contact is going to be pivotal to future success.
It might sound like science fiction, but it’s already happening. Semi-autonomous production, advanced robotics, augmented and virtual reality are already in use. E-commerce and enterprise-wide information systems are already being integrated with manufacturing operations.
Bosch Rexroth is testing ‘smart factory’ concepts in its own production lines and has already received awards for integrating humans, machines and development in customised manufacturing.
Rolls Royce is using the IoT to collect and collate data from across its customers’ aircraft fleets. They are using machine learning and analytics to optimise their products and improve fuel efficiency and maintenance planning.
Great Lakes Neuro Technologies has developed IoT-linked products that allow healthcare providers and researchers to monitor people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease. They are now collaborating to give clinicians a complete view of their patients’ experiences.
With end-to-end Cloud software, manufacturers can set up and maintain their whole Industry 4.0 infrastructure efficiently and keep up with this amazing period of rapid change.
Cloud-based ecommerce solutions like Cloudfy, that are designed with manufacturers in mind, will be essential. This will be the front-line where information is collected and shared and collaboration with partners and suppliers will be improved.
The author of this blog is Robert Williams, CEO of Cloudfy