More businesses transitioning to Industry 4.0, new report finds

A new report from the Australian Industry (Ai) Group has outlined the state of business digitalisation as more companies transition to Industry 4.0, providing a set of recommendations on how to overcome lingering challenges.

The report, titled The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Australian businesses in transition, indicates that an increasing number of company business models are being transformed to take advantage of the possibilities of connected devices, data analytics and other technologies.

Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said while business engagement with Industry 4.0 is growing and maturing, many companies are yet to get on board.

“This report assesses progress on digitalisation and changes to the underlying technological landscape; highlights case studies from leading innovators; and sets out key policy priorities for work by government and businesses,” Willox said.

“In our latest report we find that Australian businesses are currently transitioning to and within Industry 4.0. An overall finding is that there has been substantial progress in embracing Industry 4.0. But the gap between 4.0 leaders and the majority of businesses is substantial.”

Willox said that the steps towards Industry 4.0 were not easy, with successes also involving the countering of many challenges. Further, some businesses are not yet finding any clarity of the advantages of technologies and methods associated with Industry 4.0.

“For example, despite expected cost efficiencies through adoption of connected devices, often called the Internet of Things (IoT), challenges remain for promoting the business value of IoT. According to the latest ABS data on business use of IT, more than 60% of businesses did not see any value in IoT – a pillar of Industry 4.0,” he said.

“Cyber security threats remain a growing and evolving risk management issue for many businesses. 2018 saw the commencement of a range of significant data privacy legislation including the Australian Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) Scheme, as well as the controversial Assistance and Access Act which requires suppliers of secure systems to help circumvent them.”

Over 30 per cent of businesses surveyed by Ai Group experienced a cyber security incident, with the most common arising from hacking, phishing, and malware. Ai Group data also found nearly 80 per cent of businesses invested in cyber security measures, up from just over 20 per in its 2017 report.

“Even with improvements in cyber security investment, notifiable data breaches under the NDB Scheme point to the need for improved cyber security and data management posture within organisations, where government support might assist,” Willox said.

In addition to Ai Group’s key findings, the report also includes recommendations to support the transition to Industry 4.0. These include a strong focus on cyber security, promotion of business investment, encouragement of innovation and sustainability, flexibility of legal and regulatory frameworks, clarity of standards for digitalisation, strengthening workforce skills and workplace relations, and a reduction of barriers to trade.