d!conomy, Industry 4.0, Internet of Things: all terms that try to give a name to the current move to digitalization. The merging of the manufacturing industry, administration, information technology, and communication – and thus the next wave of automation – is about to revolutionize the world of work as we know it at a rapid pace. The Internet of Things unites the physical and the digital world as machines communicate directly with each other. In the age of Industry 4.0, business models, manufacturing processes, and ways of thinking will all change. Completely new professions will emerge. Specialists and  intelligent tools will be needed more than ever before. CeBIT 2015 tried to address this with the word construct d!conomy.

»This animated video illustrates how business models are changing with the Internet of Things:

Not a fad

D!conomy and Industry 4.0 aren’t fads. According to a recent study by the Porsche subsidiary Mieschke Hofmann und Partner (MHP), Industry 4.0 has high or very high relevance for 80 percent of the surveyed machine and equipment manufacturers. According to the study, the bigger the company, the more intensive the confrontation with this subject. But there are still many companies that have not yet even considered it.

Surprisingly, the biggest obstacle for the implementation of Industry 4.0 is not the limited availability of products (the offer is large, as will be seen at CeBIT and the Hannover Messe) – it is rather the need to adapt processes and work organization that prevents companies from implementing new technologies. Therefore, in my view, it is important to pick up users where they are and facilitate a smooth transition.

The interlocking of the economy and IT and the accompanying social change through the digitalization of everyday life hold many opportunities, but also some risks. Finding the right tempo is a challenge: slow enough to pick up people but fast enough to maintain the technological competitive edge.