“What is needed is courageous thinking, where potential opportunities that will move your business into the future are considered. If we want to create businesses on the same scale of Google and Facebook, it is important to understand the world and what is changing it,” says Craig Wing from FutureWorld International.
Start with recognising Industry 4.0. “Recognise that Industry 4.0 is different to the previous industrial ages. It does not require the physical and it is that world of decentralisation that is changing business.”
It is about the rate of learning. “Learn, unlearn and relearn as futurist Alvin Toffler said, but this can be difficult for those of us that have been doing the same thing for many years.” He reiterates that it is not about education, but the learning and relearning. “Knowledge does not equal understanding; it is about how to take information and apply to our own context.”
Understand that free, fast connectivity is driving the world. “Manufacturing must understand this as it will drive manufacturing. Globally there are 100 billion connected devices, which is a $13 trillion economy. Keep in mind that young people are connected from birth and expect to be connected all the time,” he says.
Manufacturing should consider blockchain technology. “It allows you to understand each component from its source. If there is something wrong with the component, it can be tracked back to exactly when the component became defective. This is good for manufacturing,” he says.
Also think smart production, such as robots/robotics which can potentially change the distribution of labour. “With machines learning and becoming smarter this also has implications for human labour replacement. What are the implications of this and are we going to protect jobs or create new industries?" he asks.
“Collaborations and ecosystems will be successful in this future, as will countries with the correct policies. Policy is imperative and goes hand in hand with this. There are also ethical questions that need to be asked,” he adds.
Another question to ask is where does the traditional economy sit in respect to the new experience economy? “If it is about the experience, then it must be about the experience of the product, for example driving the car, and not the product, that is the car, itself. Every product you make must have the ability to give the customer an escape for that moment from their life. That is what you need to look at and aim for,” he says.
Add to this is the promise of future products, that is how can I create an experience none of my competitors can. “Think exponentially, unlearn linear factory processes of the past and learn to become an intelligent exponential factory of the future,” he concludes.
Craig Wing, FutureWorld International was talking at the Manufacturing Indaba held recently at the Sandton Convention Centre.