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Everything You Need to Know About the Right Data Strategy for IoT and Industry 4.0 As we dive deeper, we find some proven data strategies that can help your business make the most of this trend

By Ram Narasimhan

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The biggest asset of our times, perhaps, has to be the nearly 44 zettabytes of data that forms the very backbone of every single decision that drives the path towards a new dawn. What really is this new era we're approaching so rapidly? Enter Industry 4.0.

Stay put as I walk you through the exciting changes catalyzed by artificial intelligence (AI), Internet-of-Things (IoT), cloud computing, and of course big data analytics. As we dive deeper into this space, we will discuss some proven data strategies that can help your business make the most of this trend.

Understanding The Underlying Tech Backbone

First things first, though. What really are these new technologies all about?

AI is one of the most defining technologies of our times. AI is characterized by the development of intelligent systems that mimic the human brain in function. A subset of AI is machine learning (ML) which enables intelligent agents to process data and learn from these data sets so they can constantly evolve and get better at what they do.

Next comes the concept of the IoT. Well, IoT is a system of devices that are all connected together via the Internet. The key to the power of such a system is its ability to share and exchange data. It's like a fabric of smaller systems that work together in the most profound ways to far surpass their individual capabilities.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: What to Expect in Industry 4.0

The first industrial revolution began with the steam engine which gave way for mass production in assembly lines powered by electricity. The onset of computing devices ushered in the third revolution. What's next is far more complex and, at the same time, beautiful.

We're in the mid of a revolution already. Smart autonomous systems that can capture, analyze, and evolve using data will forever transform production and manufacturing. This is precisely what Industry 4.0 refers to.

Expect to see smart factories with minimal human involvement. Supply chains would employ connected systems to assess unforeseen situations and respond in real-time optimally. Autonomous and affordable robots would streamline manufacturing processes. And all this is just a glimpse into the infinite potential smart technologies have in transforming today's manufacturing processes.

The Right Data Strategies to Ride the Industry 4.0 Wave

As you will have already realized, the central resource that will make Industry 4.0 a reality is data. After all, IoT devices would rely on voluminous data sets stored in the cloud to make decisions. So will autonomous robotics and AI agents. It is imperative that the management of this data would have a critical bearing on the success of any business that seeks to maximize its potential in this new era.

There are certain specific tech capabilities and infrastructure that need to be developed for catalyzing Industry 4.0. Let us explore the most significant ones in greater detail in this section.

Robust Network infrastructure: First and foremost, you will need network connectivity to ensure all sensors and systems are connected and interfaced together in order to share data. A smart system needs a connected fabric to function and leverage the power of the cloud.

Standardized Data architecture: It is also important to develop data architectures for transcoding data gathered into widely understood and recognized formats that are easily processed and analyzed.

Edge computing systems: Next, closer to these data gathering agents themselves will be needed some form of local intelligence in the form of edge computing devices that can make low-latency decisions in real-time. This is critical for rapid data analytics in a system that cannot afford significant lags between data capture and decision-making.

Secure data lake: The data being generated by the thousands of origin points will need to be stored in a pool for rapid access and analysis. The data lake will do exactly that being supported by an underlying cloud infrastructure. Most importantly, adequate measures need to be taken to ensure all data remains secure at all points in the system.

Data analytics models: Critical to the success of ML is the development of powerful models which form the very core of intelligent devices. An IoT network in an Industry 4.0 setup would be no use, after all, if the ML models do not handle high-quality data well. With the right feedback loops in place to constantly improve these models, the system will constantly evolve and scale its capabilities in near real-time.

Resilient Data Flow Automation: Industry 4.0 would be characterized by minimal manual intervention in manufacturing and production processes. This is only possible when the entire data flow is completely automated with the use of robotic process automation (RPA) platforms. The platforms will issue command sequences created by bots based on certain established rules to eliminate routine and repetitive tasks.

Efficient Data visualization: Not every agent studying data is a machine; you will find humans studying and monitoring this data too. Businesses will extract key data and base significant decisions on it. The central requirement here would be the presentation of this vast amount of data in a form that is easily analyzed and pictured.

How to Implement Data Strategies for Industry 4.0: Final Words

Contrary to popular opinion, Industry 4.0 wouldn't depend on technologists and data scientists for success. As business leaders, the onus is on us to ensure we follow the paradigm shift and oversee all aspects of business in the changing climes. Industry 4.0 affects all aspects of business across hierarchies and will thus need agile working teams who are quick to respond.

A great thing about this trend is that it will benefit businesses of all sizes: SMEs and enterprises alike will stand to gain provided they collaborate and exchange expertise and insights. If your organization does not have access to voluminous data, associating with a third-party that can fill in the gaps can be a wise decision indeed.

Ultimately, I can tell you that it's all about data in the end. Data underlies Industry 4.0 and will be dealt with every step along the way. If you can get your data strategies right, expect to embrace a bright future with promising opportunities like never before. Are you ready to lead the change?

Ram Narasimhan

Global Executive Director -- AI and Bigdata, Xebia


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