So, What’s the Next Industrial Revolution Really?

In researching the subject of Smart Operations–which is essentially the data-reliant OpEx that’s overlaying the Lean Six Sigma-dependent OpEx and facing outward as much as inward–I Googled “next industrial revolution.” The first two pages of the search returned mixed results (to say the least):

  • The Atlantic says it’s Eco-efficiency
  • Business Insider goes with the Internet of Things
  • Forbes says Robots!
  • TechCrunch.com contends it’s the Industrial Internet
  • Explainingthefuture.com touts 3D printing
  • Natcap.org professes it to be Natural Capitalism
  • Others are chatting up nanomaterials, self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, delivery drones, and even innovation as its own industry.

I have my own opinion: it’s data-driven technology.

See, we’ll be focusing on eco-efficiency, building bots, self-driving cars and drones, improving the functionality of all things internet, practicing natural capitalism, and maybe doing a lot of it with 3-D printing… But for every company in any of these and a billion other businesses, the industrial revolution is every manufacturer of anything becoming a technology company that makes: fill in the blank.

We’re in a transition period, pre-the-next-industrial-revolution. It’s not recommended for most companies that they become big data collection and analytic experts, but it’s pretty clear that operating from the access to and understanding of big data is essential to growth, profitability, competitiveness, etc. All those highly successful characteristics that UPS says separates the thrivers from the survivors are rooted in data management, and, for now, there are third-party providers who can get it done for most companies.

This will continue to be because there will be big gaps in data technology talent availability for some time to come. That is why every company needs a plan to add at least one person to their team who can maximize the use of data by liaising with the big data management service provider, all the while learning how to bring that capability in house, train people to use it, and ultimately change the entire balance of the company from people driving things to data driving things and people using that data to drive everything while innovating the next new thing.

So, you make: fill in the blank. By 2025, you’ll want to be well into being an organization top heavy with data-savvy leaders, and crews that dig data, use it, and make magic happen. Leaders and their teams (including techies) will need to have the education, experience, capability and culture to manage and read your internal data (and a lot from the outside), analyze and understand it, develop products, services and business strategies that respond to it… Oh, and they all (even the techies) have to be people-people because they’ll be managing everyone else and every action in the organization, and communicating directly with customers who want to be happy, and get quality… yesterday.

Now that’s an industrial revolution.

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