Industry Spotlight: Industry 4.0
How rare is this opportunity?
It’s only happened 3 times before.
You may not realize it, but the 4th industrial revolution has already begun. And you may not believe it, but it’ll be every bit as transformational as the factory, the assembly line, and the computer. And you may not yet know it, but you are entering the workforce at a time of less-than-once-in-a-generation economic change – and the unprecedented professional opportunity that goes along with it.
“We’re looking for critical thinkers, big dreamers,” said Rick Schreiber, co-leader of BDO’s rapidly growing Industry 4.0 Practice. “We need innovative minds who know and love technology, and who want to harness it to make businesses work better.”
Four Technology Drivers
Industry 4.0 – aka the 4th industrial revolution – is driven by the simultaneous maturation of four key technologies: robotics, micro-sensors, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. Each is now broadly available and widely affordable, resulting in dramatic improvements in the way businesses operate, and in some cases fundamentally new business models.
- Robotics can now handle many of the most mundane processes – and not just the physical ones. Automated data entry and bookkeeping are increasingly the best options for many industries, including accounting!
- Micro-sensors can now be embedded in almost anything: products, machines, components, vehicles, and power sources, producing a stream of real-time data about every process, at every step in the value chain.
- Cloud computing is now how that data is stored, and processed. For the first time, mid-sized and small companies (even start-ups) have access to the immense computing power required to compete effectively.
- Artificial intelligence, once known for outdueling chess masters and winning on Jeopardy!, is now a mass-marketed tool, delivering business insight, market trend identification, and process optimization to any company willing to embrace it.
Industry 4.0 is most often linked to manufacturing, where the opportunities for “creative disruption” are perhaps most evident. But change is happening across industries: healthcare, insurance, retail, natural resources, restaurants, and more. BDO’s clients are asking for help figuring out the impact on their industries generally, and the possibilities for their companies specifically. How can Industry 4.0 technologies make them more efficient? More competitive? And more profitable?
Accounting experience, whether audit or tax, is incredibly beneficial to the kinds of advisory work related to Industry 4.0. Yes, Industry 4.0 is about technology. But it starts with a fundamental understanding of how a business operates, the way it all works. Few professional backgrounds offer better preparation than accounting.
“When we’re presented with a problem from a client, we need to dive deep,” explained Randy Saad, Senior Business Analyst, IT Business Enablement Group. “We figure out multiple ways our clients can take advantage of the technology. We’re innovation creators.”
And for people just starting their careers, that means tremendous opportunity. “This generation grew up with the internet. They came of age with technology,” said Schreiber. “They’re the ones who are going to help BDO change the world.”
Industry 4.0 Co-Leader, National Manufacturing & Distribution Practice Leader, Memphis
Industry 4.0 Co-Leader, Management Advisory Services National Leader, Houston