• Dylan Wingrove

The Foundation of 4IR

Updated: Jun 4, 2020

The 4th Industrial Revolution, in it's simplest form, is focused on creating a series of networked devices which allow you to extract & process information from the real world which in turn, helps you solve real-world problems. If you've spent any time tackling a business case using 4IR technologies, you will know that it is much more complex than this, however, we believe that the foundation is simple and is made up of 3 key initiatives: Data, Connectivity & Integration. If you can successfully execute on these 3, then implementing solutions becomes much easier and far more cost-effective.

We ensure that each of our clients have a full understanding of this even before tackling a small proof of concept project. Doing this ensures that when our clients are ready, we are prepared and have laid a stable foundation on which to scale their solution. This foundation makes data easier to extract, share and analyze with integration opportunities being accessed every step of the way. Below is a brief overview of the foundations of 4IR and how your organisation can utilize them to ensure success.

Start with Connectivity

Connectivity only makes up a third of the trinity of the 4IR foundation alongside data & integration but without it, the other two have a difficult time being relevant. As we mentioned earlier, it’s essential that your organisation has the ability to extract, organize and make data accessible, taking connectivity out of that equation puts you back in the industrial revolution and who wants to be there?

This emphasis on connectivity drove us to partner with industry leaders in the African telecommunications space- Yaxxa. Having a reliable ITC partner ensures that you lay a solid foundation on which to build and scale your business 4.0 solution. Through their years of experience, we provide our clients with the tools they need to extract data, share it easily and integrate it across technology.

“The fourth industrial revolution represents an exponential leap forward in science, technology and innovation, and promises to alter every aspect of our lives. However, high performance and scalable networks are a prerequisite for businesses, the public sector and even consumers to truly access and participate in the shift.”- Chris Hopkrik, Regional GM MTN Business

We couldn't talk about connectivity without mentioning the rise of 5G, which has created an enormous amount of consumer hype but the true value of the new technology lies in the industrial applications. The new network will provide a unique opportunity for organisations to create secure private networks, only internally accessible & controlled. This is a huge leap forward for IoT as security is always a major concern, adding additional sensors to your network opens you up to more opportunities for attack. While these 5G networks won’t completely eliminate this threat, the risk is significantly reduced.

Deloitte reports that “more than 100 companies worldwide will have begun testing private 5G deployments by the end of 2020” and this is news we are very excited about. For factories, logistics hubs & mining operations this means that IoT integration, automation & artificial intelligence solutions are now achievable and cost-effective. With estimates, of a 90% reduction in the cost of data and speeds of up to 900 Mb/s, data can now be instantly downloaded, shared & analyzed in a cost-effective way.

Don't Neglect Data

No matter what 4IR solution you are implementing, without accurate and accessible data, your project will not be successful. Data can be thought of as a four-step process but before you can have bots analyzing data or doing predictive maintenance, your data must be accessible. While this may seem like a simple problem to solve, it’s a key weakness in many organisation's transformation strategy and if not thought through can result in failure before you have even begun.

Make sure you don't fall into this trap by focusing on data solutions early and consider how data can be shared across devices, integrated into your broader solution and securely stored with a reliable cloud partner.

Integration Makes it All Come Together

We now have data and ways to share it through enhanced connectivity but how do your systems integrate? Is the data shared from one device readable by another? How will the system communicate the data with the end-user?

These are just a few simple integration questions which you should be asking yourself prior to tackling your business 4.0 solution, without applications and machines being able to work together, your project may never make it past the proof of concept phase.

Accenture estimates that in South Africa alone- the mining sector could potentially lose out on a third of the value creation from digital transformation due to lack of integration and built-in analytics. They estimate that by not making integration & analytics a priority, the sector could lose R51 Billion in value, with figures such as this, it's easy to see why integration is important and the significant negative impact it can have if not prioritized.

Laying the correct foundational technology can have a tremendous impact on the success of your Business 4.0 solution. As we suggest to all of our clients, don't try to re-invent the wheel, there are experts in each of these areas of technology who have already built fantastic solutions for you to use, so partner where possible. By ensuring that you are always thinking beyond the proof of concept phase and to the broader business case can help you to stay on track but without connectivity, data and integration your solution will have a difficult time scaling.


BhekaDala Digital is your Fourth Industrial Revolution partner, helping organisations and cities throughout Africa & The Middle East make their digital transformational ideas reality. We've partnered up with industry leaders such as WinWin International and Yaxxa to ensure we can provide a holistic approach to business transformation.

We’re excited to be on this journey of transformation with industry leaders and truly believe that through collaboration we will be able to empower employees and organisations to maximize their potential.

If you have a project in mind or simply just want to learn more about what the 4th Industrial Revolution is, make sure to join our mailing list and follow us on social media for the latest in transformational technology.

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