* This post was translated and originally published here (Spanish) within the framework of the I Congreso de Industria Conectada taking place in Madrid the 21st of September. The Congress is organized by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness of Spain and is linked to its Connected Industry 4.0 strategy.
The fourth industrial revolution is a concept that has merged into our daily vocabulary, particularly for those of us living in the world of technology and trying to look forward into the future. Why the fourth? The first industrial revolution did away with energy barriers with the steam engine. The second spurred productivity to new heights with the rise of mass production lines. The third improved sustainability and quality. The fourth, combining connectivity and data, will make it possible to eliminate information barriers.
We are currently experiencing the coming together of various technologies that enable the appearance of a new industrial paradigm in which different elements of an industrial process collaborate among themselves. The opportunities for technological development and global growth are incredible. Let's imagine, for example, the possibility of almost instantaneously reconfiguring an automotive production plant by means of a digital model or a “digital twin” plant that predicts behaviours and optimises functions. Or the ability to predict in advance the various workloads of different elements of the logistics network to offer surplus capacity to a third party.
Why is this happening now? Because of the technological advances that make the difference. With the evolution towards 5G, we are beginning to have new communications technologies that allow for scenarios that just weren’t possible until now. Such is the case of LPWA, which is the miniaturization of hardware components that provide intelligence to things that didn’t previously due to cost, battery, or size. It is also possible to support a greater density of connected devices, for example, in a factory. Low latency communications for real time system. Data processing capacities, incredible digital minds capable of real time decision-making based on the data we acquire. And, of course, greater sensitivity and closeness to digital technology in professionals, with new workplace culture paradigms.
Though the Industry 4.0 concept is traditionally associated with the Smart Factory, it actually greatly transcends it. It is true that the advantages of a collaborative intelligent environment in a manufacturing environment are highly obvious to everyone. However, what can be said about a gas distribution system, where geographic dispersion is massive, yet real time control requirements are equally critical; or the case of mining, where the technification of processes is already incredible and improvements to their efficiency represent millions in savings; or the case of logistics, present in any business, key to ensuring that the margins, which are growing increasingly tighter due to the fierce competition, are positive; or the management of urban environments, where the fragmentation of involved cases of use, scenarios and elements is enormous. No sector will be left out of this revolution and it’s in the hands of everyone to make it possible for these improvements to happen.
The Internet of Things (IoT) plays a leading role in this context, as it shares the same motivations and background technology as the Industry 4.0: new generation communications and sensors, flexible services and advanced data analysis that enable us to predict behaviour with surprising precision.
I want to emphasise security as a key attribute, as it is a priority among everything we conceive of here at Telefónica. Our devices, our networks and our services have security capabilities starting from the design phase, roll-out and operations, in both preventive and reactive modes.
At Telefónica we’ve been working on this journey for some time, combining the necessary ingredients in order to become one of the protagonists of this revolution. Without tarrying to discuss our leadership in advanced communications, we develop world-class internal capabilities in data processing and service platforms. We apply the scale and flexibility of our worldwide partner network to be able to provide, in every scenario, each customer with a specific solution that meets their digital transformation needs in record time. It’s because we equally love and obsess over applying technology to solve our customers’ needs. At Telefónica, we will continue developing products, services and capabilities to accelerate the process of technological development, which is key to our country.