The evolution that Pedro’s company had in the previous chapter can be summarized in the following stages:
What do these stages mean? These stages signify the technological path or route that Pedro traced to turn his company into a smart company, smart factory as companies undergoing the digital transformation of the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0 are called.
Much of the automation work has occurred in the past decades since cybernetic systems made their appearance to the mechatronic systems that continue to develop today, culminating in impressive robots with increasingly humanized movements. However, in the world of IT, there are many repetitive and manual tasks that can be automated.
This is the first stage of the digital transformation and consists not only of eliminating paper from many of the business processes, but also of the extraordinary work of connecting IT and mechatronic systems to the Internet. Such is the magnitude of the change that this stage in itself constitutes a technological megatrend called “the internet of things” (IoT).
It could also be called the visibility stage because although in the previous stage of digitalization a gigantic amount of data (“big data”) is generated, it would be useless if it cannot be seen and analyzed. This is where a large number of tools called “analytics”, analysis or “big data” come into play, because although it seems trivial, extracting, ordering and presenting information from large amounts of data distributed in various systems presents a great technological challenge.
When a process has been automated, digitalized and analyzed, the next step is to learn from all this analysis to make smarter decisions in the operation of the company or business. That is why we would say that it can also be called the “business intelligence” stage. At the beginning, all this knowledge and intelligence is in the entrepreneur, executive or manager who makes use of the information to make more informed decisions. But the future has already caught up with us with the “Artificial Intelligence” that in the near future will operate all the computer systems of the company through more specific computer programs called “machine learning”.
While progress is made with the analytics of automated and digitalized processes, the different operational areas of the company or industry are integrated or inter-connected, forming a large neural network of the company’s systems that come together in a large brain with artificial intelligence. The challenge of communicating the different systems is of great complexity and it should be noted that although it comes last, it does not necessarily occur after the other stages since inter-operability may be needed before analytics to obtain data from interdependent processes.
We now have a roadmap of the technology integration process to achieve a smart enterprise, smart factory, etc.
And the good news:
I don’t have to start with all areas of my business at the same time, nor do I have to start implementing all stages of the technology path at the same time.
Which area of my business and which stage should I attack first?
The answer is in the next section.