The fourth Industrial Revolution: Industry of the Future

Dassault Systemes leads the development of the Industry of the Future

industry-of-the-futureThere is a view that we are deep into the digital age. However, I believe that we are simply at the threshold and have yet to exploit the potential and the power that the digital age can exert to transform the way we live, work and play. In France, Dassault Systemes is leading a major, Government sponsored programme, which will revolutionise and transform the Industry of the Future – the fourth Industrial Revolution.

Most industrialised nations are addressing the potential of the digital age, some with the creation of rigid protocols and standards, and others, such as France, through evolution founded on a strong foundation of technological innovation, allowing innovation to flourish with the parallel development of international standards to encourage its growth. The United Kingdom is watching the French lead in this area with interest and is likely to follow as it shapes its approach to the European Industry 4.0 transformation protocols, which address the application of automation, data exchange and manufacturing technologies in a digital, Internet-enabled world.

The French Government has asked Dassault Systemes, in partnership with a major international manufacturing group, to lead the programme – we have been involved with that programme since 2014, though it only formally started in May 2015. It brings together a confederation of cutting edge industries, research groups and academia, to shape how Industry will operate in the future and, in particular, how SMEs will be given the opportunity to flourish in expert and trusted supply chains, contributing their capabilities and knowledge in the digital age. It is recognised that central to this are people and the way their skills could be developed and harnessed to create an industry for people as we move into the age of experience.

industrial-revolutionAs a company, we are at the heart of this global revolution. Our science and technology approach to the age of experience, using our platform and the constant drive for innovation and change, already is transforming the way businesses operate as they seek greater efficiency, productivity, reduced costs and faster time to market. The industries and market sectors in which we operate are starting to transform their business models, acting as a catalyst in other areas as they experience the increased competitiveness, effectiveness and responsive which transformation can generate. This is no more so than in the  manufacturing base we support across EuroNorth and the highly skilled Hi Tech industries emerging in the Nordic region and Benelux.

We are witnessing a change from the drive of the last decade to increase the rate of manufacture of standard consumer products, to an era in which there is greater customisation as people seek the experience of using products which match their requirements and their sense of relationship with the world around them. As a result, Industry is seeking digital solutions which enable innovative and precise design, virtual mock-ups and realisation, and a lifecycle management process which drives production and revision such that products continue to meet the experience and expectations of consumers. Our 3DEXPERIENCE platform is developing rapidly to address that need.

This change is, in part, being demanded by the young people of today. Their lifestyle is shaped by the virtual world. It conditions how they think and act, where nothing is impossible and experimentation can be carried out fearlessly.  Furthermore, they are not afraid of change – change is the norm. Change which causes uncertainty and concern in the minds of some adults is second nature.  Our young people view the world differently – they tend to look at the digital world before the real world, to see what the digital world is doing and how the real world then reacts.  It is about experience – not the physical object. Young people measure life by experiences and are shaped by it. It is how that shaping occurs which determines how people develop and grow.

Universities, colleges and some schools, prompted by Industry, are starting to focus on the requirements of manufacturing and evolving industries, as frequently companies need to resort to training new employees in the technology and practices of their particular operations. But education should also encourage young people to think, to use their imaginations. The power of that youthful imagination can then be harnessed to be used to the best possible effect in the digital age. The key to harnessing that power is not to influence the mind with limitations but instead pose the question ‘why not’ or ‘if we’.  Technology growth over the last 15 years has been extremely rapid and there is no sign of that falling away – in fact the reverse is true. Limitations and barriers to thought are being broken down and the business world needs to empower the mind to think further, faster and deeper.

The soldiers of the fourth Industrial Revolution are today’s students. Academia has a major role in shaping the outcome of that revolution. Academia and Industry are partners in that revolution. Dassault Systemes is providing the leadership as we pass through the portal into the true, industrial, digital age – the Industry of the Future.

John Stokoe

Head of Strategic Development at Dassault Systèmes
John is Head of Strategic Development for Northern Europe at Dassault Systèmes. He is a former Major General in the British Army and, since leaving the Army in 1999, he has gained considerable commercial experience in the construction, infrastructure services and IT sectors, operating at both business unit and Board level.