What really is a 4.0 Tech Solution?
Right from the days of its inception, each and every era of manufacturing has been typically built on and been assessed by the advancement of technology – be it the steam-powered factories of the 1700s or the second industrial revolution when electricity ushered and transformed mass production.
Today, we are at the age of digital Renaissance where communication, automation, machine learning and connectivity all rest on the leverage of data. This makes our time the era of technology, the era of smart manufacturing. From solving market needs and boosting revenue to seamless production and human-led automation, everything today rests on the backbone of technology.
This is Industry 4.0 and the tech solutions that develop in this era to maximise economic growth and minimise production waste are called 4.0 Tech solutions.
All these advancements in technology have one single motive – benefit the people to benefit the planet. When human capacities are elevated to their highest capacity through a transformation in technology, it minimises the cost, improves manufacturing, simplifies production processes and ultimately adds value to the industry.
But in order to take full advantage of this technological boom, business owners, industry leaders and start-up founders need to realise that when today ‘data is the new oil’, technology will help them to intelligently process large volumes of data, understand the specific needs of the customers and then empower the humans with highly efficient solutions so that they can make quick informed decisions for sustainable growth.
So, the first step in successfully implementing Industry 4.0 solutions or 4.0 Tech solutions is making the industry people understand the fact that today customers and businesses engage in a completely different way than what used to be just a decade back.
They connect through their heart (data) but using their brain (technology). This is essentially how customer engagement, conversion and retention works in today’s ever-competitive business landscape and therefore, it’s imperative that businesses identify their problems using technology and then look for creating the solutions and optimising those solutions at the same time, using technology as well.
This is where the method of Design Thinking comes in.
So, what is Design Thinking and what relevance does it have to 4.0 solutions?
In simple terms, Design Thinking is a human-centric approach to innovation and technology.
If a business founder is spoken to in highly technical terms, chances are that instead of getting intrigued by technology and its various aspects, the individual will lose interest quickly and will completely fail to see what and how the business problems will be solved with that piece of technology.
But a successful businessperson always understands the language of business. So, when a 4.0 Tech solution provider instead of going on and on about codes and prototypes, highlights the key business problems and tells the person, how easily that problem could be solved if the business implements this technological solution, the owner could immediately understand in business terms how he or she is going to progress with that technology.
This is the idea of Design Thinking Methods at its core.
Through these methods, an innovator simply shows a business where it’s currently standing and how technology solutions can take the business where the owner wants it to go in the near future. It is the method that clearly makes a businessperson understand the basic requirements for the success of the business – not from a technical point of view but from a business point.
The entire method of Design Thinking includes 5 phases in its creative approach towards a problem. These are Empathy, Definition, Ideation, Prototyping & Test. Each phase is critical and comes with a specific set of tools that get implemented at each of them, for all types of projects or businesses.
Let us now look at the different stages of the Design Thinking Method and how incredible it is for industry leaders –
As the name of the phrase suggests, it is about empathising with the needs of the people.
In this phase, an innovator should clearly understand or needs to be told the exact desires, thoughts, problems, and buying habits of different people and how things could be changed for a better tomorrow.
Again, as the name of this phase suggests, it is time for defining the areas.
After the phase of Empathy, where each and every need and desire of the people are looked into, in the phase of Definition, all those data are deeply analyzed to see which are the areas that need deep focus and attention.
This is the time when extensive research and brainstorming is done over the data to identify the sections that need improvement.
This is the section where creative juices need to flow freely. Through Empathy and Definition, we understand the needs and the problems and have thoroughly studied the areas which need focus.
In Ideation, it’s time to come with ideas and creative solutions that directly solve the problems of the people. This is the phase where technological tools need to be thought of, which could resolve the identified issues.
In simple terms, prototyping is the phase where ideas are quickly brought to life.
No idea is full-proof in the first place. It needs to be tested and then needs to be tweaked and developed according to the feedback.
So this is the phase where solutions that are tangible are put to use and then modified through feedback until and unless positive impacts start to show in the lives of people, for whom this idea was originally created.
This is the final phase of the Design Thinking method where the idea or the solution has been fully evolved and is now ready as a final output.
This final output is then received by the client and is again subjected to feedback after its full-fledged application in the market. This feedback is always taken into account as this helps the team of innovators to keep modifying the solutions for betterment.
So, these 5 phases make the Design Thinking method an incredible tool for 4.0 Tech solution providers which helps them communicate with industry leaders in ‘business terms’ and in their language of success.
Design Thinking is a method that helps businesses and industries with key insights into the needs of the people and provides them with clear solutions on how those needs can be addressed.
For any product or service to be successful, they need to cater to the needs of the market. Design Thinking not just highlights those needs but also, delivers a clear cut course of action to the businesses as a guide to be successful.
It speaks the language of business and is structured around a business point of view rather than technological takeaways which makes it all the more easy-to-understand for business people and industry leaders.
Therefore, the next time you really struggle as a 4.0 Tech solution provider in explaining clearly what you do and why you do, simply say you create technology for a successful future, for a prospering planet and for the economic growth of mankind.
Charlotte Fuller is an award-winning digital transformation consultant. She helps her clients get to the heart of what their business needs, so they can create competitive, digital strategies that enable growth. Subscribe to her newsletter and never miss an update.