Jan 15, 2021

Accenture: Blockchain & AI to fuel ‘Industry 4.0’

Industry 4.0
Janet Brice
3 min
blockchain technology
The potent mix of blockchain and AI is paving the way for a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ by reinventing economics and information exchange...

The potent mix of blockchain and AI is said to be fuelling the onset of a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ by reinventing economics and information exchange, according to a report from Accenture.

“The potent combination of AI and blockchain is slowly but surely transforming industries and institutions worldwide,” comments Accenture who look at how this mix could drive a new set of insights and value to a company.

These two new digital technologies could “create synergies unlike anything the business world has ever seen” predicts Accenture who point out that tapping into this new power could be challenging for some businesses. 

The report points out that blockchain helps deliver upon the promise of AI by providing new levels of data access, trust and security to drive it forward and leverage results.

“Companies that recognise the power of this combination will have to manage co-ordinated technology implementations and more complex transformations. To navigate the challenges ahead, leaders will need to think through several key decisions,” says the report, Powered by blockchain: Realising AI’s full potential.

According to Paul Daugherty, Accenture Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, “It’s critical that businesses act now to develop strategies around AI, that put people at the centre, and commit to develop responsible AI systems that are aligned to moral and ethical values that will empower people to do what they do best - imagine, create and innovate.”

Fourth Industrial Revolution

According to Accenture this “Fourth Industrial Revolution” could transform global industries. AI could double annual economic growth rates in 2035, according to an analysis of 12 developed economies by Accenture Research. It is predicted to change the nature of work, creating new, human-led relationships with machines that should increase labour productivity by up to 40%. 

“By helping people work smarter, AI could boost average profitability by as much as 38%, producing a bounty of up to US$14 trillion across 16 industries by 2035. The information and communication industry alone could deliver an extra US$4.7 trillion in gross value added in that year,” comments Accenture.

The report looks at the effect of combining blockchain and AI on the following:

  • Smart energy, smart buildings
    Green-friendly AI and blockchain solutions could help reduce energy waste 
  • Public science
    Institutions could store and access an index to academic research - adding analytics, scientists would have a rich data set for learning
  • Supply chain
    By creating digital representations of real-world assets and tracking them major efficiencies and product improvements can be realised
  • Smart devices
    The combination could be used to decide how these devices act, interact, and transact
  • Identity

The mix of blockchain and AI could quickly reveal community health information to produce insights to guide care and support

  • Healthcare

With secure shared health data on blockchain systems, patients can reclaim control and will benefit from AI-enabled personal care - knowing data is protected

Why AI is the perfect partner for blockchain

According to Accenture the ample flow of accurate data will drive AI systems. “That’s why the leading technology firms have invested billions to acquire data-focused companies and their capabilities. The power of AI depends on the access to, magnitude, and quality of the data it can process.

“So, while AI redefines the systems of business engagement, blockchain is recalibrating the systems of record. Together, they will remap organisational boundaries, moving them from siloed verticals with complex processes to operate efficiently across horizontals, and, in the process, releasing large amounts of currently trapped value.

“Together, AI and blockchain will enable organisations to exceed their current boundaries and gain access to significant amounts of trapped value,” concludes Accenture.

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May 12, 2021

Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers

2 min
57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support smart manufacturing digitalisation

With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.

While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.

“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.

“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”

Change Management

Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.

“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.

Technology and People

While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.

“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.

Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.

Discover Gartner's Five Best Practices for Post COVID-19 Innovation' in manufacturing.

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