During 2018 the news was awash with stories of Industry 4.0 trends. So what can we expect in 2019?
Well, I imagine probably more of the same, if truth be told.
IoT, 5G, Digitalisation, Smart & Wearable Tech, RPA and Robotics are all likely to claim vast amounts of column space throughout 2019.
The Internet of Things has been a trending topic for a few years now, the concept of smart cities, connected cars and smart factories being just a few of the key focus areas.
2019 looks set to continue with makers of driver-less cars working as hard as ever to convince a, sometimes sceptical, public that this is the future of personal and public transport.
Smart motorways in the UK continue their role out, even if there is some doubt that they are actually any better at relieving congestion that traditional motorways.
With increased sales of wearable and smart tech expected in 2019, including the sale of nearly 37 million Amazon Echoes, Google Homes and other smart speakers, internet connected devices look set to continue to take up more and more of our expendable income.
5G is fast taking centre stage, with regular announcements and updates from the likes of EE, Vodafone and Three all making headline announcements late in 2018 setting out their road-maps for 5G activity in 2019.
Whilst the UK may be behind a lot of other countries in embracing and preparing for this technological advancement, it is still anticipated that in most major cities 5G will be accessible by the end of 2019.
With forecasted download speeds of more than 100X what 4G is capable of, what remains to be seen is how this technology is taken from smart phones and devices, and implemented into homes and business.
Even if the costs are higher, reducing latency to virtually zero could be a key catalyst to the effectiveness of smart, driver-less vehicles and smart cities becoming a reality sooner rather than later.
Between Cloud solutions and Edge computing, the uptake in digitalisation of back office functions has grown rapidly in recent years.
Technology that used to be only available to the very largest of organisations is now readily available to business’ of all sizes.
Speed of implementing solutions to digitalise documents and automate their processing with standardised functionality has resulted in a very real price drop in the technology. Will 2019 be the year that we see SME’s and Public Sector organisations really embrace and adopt this?
Smart & Wearable Tech
As already mentioned, an estimated 37 million smart speakers are expected to be sold in 2019, this alone would suggest that smart technology is not only worth big money, but is going to become more and more common for us to encounter.
The smart money would be on wearable tech being the next big seller on the consumer market.
Wearable rings that can unlock car doors, check your health and allow you to make contactless payments are already making their way to market.
Smart ear buds, much like those from Apple seem to be in higher demand and the year has barely started yet.
A short amount of time online looking at some of the next generation of wearable tech shows that even the health and beauty sector are getting in on the act, with L’Oreal only just announcing a wearable skin sensor and accompanying app.
RPA & Robotics
Both RPA and Robotics were buzz words in 2018, with technology providers really showcasing what can be done for organisations.
As more and more solutions and services are automated, what remains to be seen is the impact that these technologies will have on the wider population.
Will employment or unemployment be the result of this shift in jobs and workplace culture?
How will countries and populations cope with the fast shift towards automated processes and automated manufacturing?
Of course, it isn’t always plain sailing, as was shown last year by Tesla reverting back to a more human centric workforce to ensure that they were able to get close to delivering the number of cars that had been ordered.
An honourable mention
Big Data, every element that I have mentioned here also gives companies and business’ access to more and more data. How this is managed and mined will likely become key to the overarching success of not only a company’s bottom line, but to how far Industry 4.0 goes in 2019.
Of course, it is only January… These trends could very easily change the halfway mark of the year, in fact, I would be surprised if they hadn’t.