Technology · December 03, 2020

The Fourth Industrial Revolution Drives Resiliency During a Crisis

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has brought cutting-edge technologies like data analysis, machine learning, automation and artificial intelligence, or AI, into the mainstream. But while many businesses have rushed to embrace these tools, others have stayed on the sidelines, hesitant to commit to new approaches.


Then COVID-19 disrupted supply chains, production processes, safety procedures and the core concept of the workplace. As your company endures these shocks and wrestles with massive economic setback, perhaps you've taken a deeper look at how Industry 4.0 can help your business—not only with everyday efficiency, but with resiliency in the face of significant marketplace challenges.

Adapting during a crisis

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared that COVID-19 was a pandemic. Not long after, the US economy virtually shut down, only allowing essential businesses such as healthcare providers, drugstores, food processors and grocers to remain open.

Facing both a sharp falloff in demand and a workforce urged to stay at home to keep family and loved ones safe, business owners scrambled for survival. Although government aid programs provided some relief, savvy leaders pivoted their businesses to meet new market demand.

Frequently, the new business approaches demanded by COVID-19 relied on Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies such as:

  • Robotic systems and telehealth platforms that allow doctors and other health professionals to provide care while maintaining a safe distance
  • Heightened connectivity that enables employees working from home to collaborate on projects
  • 3D printing that facilitates accelerated production of health and safety equipment and fills critical supply chain gaps for numerous manufacturers
  • Virtual reality platforms that allow for remote training and high-level service and troubleshooting to remote industrial sites

Reopening smartly

As the economy gradually reopens and you welcome employees back to the workplace, you're likely asking them to follow rules regarding masks and distancing while ensuring healthy ventilation. For many, restarting also means incorporating new processes such as:

  • AI-streamlined approaches to labor-intensive jobs such as data entry, transcriptions and image sorting
  • Data-driven perspectives, including dashboards, on remote employee accomplishments and outcomes
  • Remote control of manufacturing processes, troubleshooting and maintenance
  • A renewed focus on the customer in sales and marketing, relying upon advanced customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning systems
  • Real-time monitoring and analysis of inventories, materials and supplies

As managers acclimated to the tech advances, these advances helped them address today's new realities and better prepare companies to manage the variables of the future.

What's next

Future issues may not be as overwhelming as a pandemic. Still, supply chain disruptions and obstacles resulting from weather-related issues and technology complications are on the rise.

As part of your long-term planning process, take an honest look at how an investment in Industry 4.0 advances could increase the agility and nimbleness of your business in the face of all kinds of challenges. Consider tapping developments such as:

  • More in-depth automation and integration of manufacturing processes
  • AI and virtual reality-enhanced operations and maintenance
  • Sophisticated cybersecurity platforms that monitor and resolve issues before they become a problem
  • A resilient supply chain that accounts for your key suppliers plus their top suppliers
  • Cloud-based resources that support every aspect of your company while ensuring business continuity

Business challenges figure to grow in size and complexity. By embracing Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, your organization will be better equipped to navigate the next crisis.

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