Industry 4.0 and its impact on startups
- By Mr. Vikram Kumar, Co-Founder and Managing Director, SRV Media Pvt. Ltd.
COVID-19 has made a paradigm shift in the way we think and go about life. Inside the four walls of our houses, we are forced to evaluate our practices, make changes, learn new things and create opportunities that would have never existed. For business owners, they have moved to the digital world and it has proved to be a major growth opportunity. Startups are learning to work with some of the best technology which has been at their disposal for years. Various articles and discussions ignited by multiple organisations suggest that this has accelerated the fourth Industrial revolution (or as it is called – Industry 4.0) which had set in at the turn of this decade. We couldn’t agree more!
What is Industry 4.0?
It is the transformation from the offline to the online world. It is the digital revolution. The focus of Industry 4.0 is on the Internet of Things. It is changing every industry’s working at every step of the way. From information collection to production to supply chains and even distribution, Industry 4.0 makes decisions decentralized and implements hi-tech systems.
What does this mean?
This means there are various technological changes happening frequently. Some of these changes may have been accepted subconsciously by us; others may take a while. Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant are examples of technology (AI to be specific) finding its way into our daily life. Big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, etc., are all technologies that have made changes at our workplaces. Smart Chatbots have changed the way customers interact with a company.
How do we work with it?
While these changes sound exciting, it is critical for startups to be able to adopt this technology. Learning how to work with it will optimize output and reduce the time taken. Apart from opting for classes and webinars online, the best way to learn anything is to play with it. Financial constraints do not have to be the reason your startup doesn’t grow.
Why is this an important time for startups?
The only way to let Industry 4.0 be the positive change you needed for your startup is to evolve and make changes. Let us give you a few examples.
- Start Small: It is unrealistic to start using all kinds of technology at one go. Apart from being expensive, it can also be very confusing. The best way to begin is starting small. Include basic coding and data analytics in your website/emails which will give you an insight into the behaviours of your customers. This will help you craft your communication effectively in the future.
- Use technology effectively: This may sound easy but it requires planning and proper execution. What are the tasks that are time-consuming, repetitive and can be done automated? Which tasks require creativity, empathy and industry understanding? What is the data that can be acquired using technology?
In a small office setup, it is possible for one person to be donning multiple hats. These questions will help you get started. Allow machines to perform the tasks they can do best. For eg. data collection, searching records, compilation, etc. It is believed by using data and analytics, the output can be increased by 25%. With only a few hands on deck, technology can help take the load off.
- Market Expansion and collaboration: This shift to better technology will increase remote working opportunities across the world. It allows you to hire and work with the best talent for your startup. It increases the chances of collaboration with the brightest in the business. Understand this opportunity and make the most of it. Social media and the internet can help you reach out to people located everywhere.
- Better Customer Experience: If you can hire from around the world, there is no doubt you can have customers globally as well. Integrate chatbots on your website and pages to find out what works and what doesn’t from customers themselves. Regular feedback will help you improve while technology does the labour. With the manual work off your plate, more time can be focused on expanding, planning and strategising for your startup.
- Global Community: I4 also unifies the whole world. Any problem you face is not yours alone. Someone somewhere may be facing the same issue. With technology, social media, AI, VR and so much more at your disposal, it is easy to connect with them and work together to solve the problem. For a startup, this can be a big boon. You can reach out, find solutions and grow your business.
To sum up, Industry 4.0 is here and it is upon startups to use this opportune time in the best way possible. With the right vision, appropriate usage of technology and foresight, it could be the time you were always waiting for!