Digital Supply Chain and Production

It is the supply chain in manufacturing that is mainly impacted by the introduction of Industry 4.0. All the steps starting from the shipping of the order to the end life of the product are now transparent hence the partnership between suppliers, manufacturers and customers become crucial. The whole supply chain management works by digitalisation and automation of processes. It is necessary to discover the impact of Industry 4.0 on the supply chain so that threats which may arise from the new technologies can easily be identifiable.

The IoT is made up of sharp and intelligent machines, advanced predictive analytics and the partnership of human and machines which improve productivity, reliability and efficiency of the industry. It provides specific sensing/actuating ability of data and information and, therefore, quickly transmits it to the smart devices so that the remote operations of the manufacturing system are greatly facilitated. Analysing, processing and exchanging information between people and machines can be done by the use of smart sensors and actuators. Some of the sensor-based applications can also be used for maintenance of machines as they detect wear and tear of equipment, and also keep a check on inventory levels. IoT technology can thus be utilised for gathering, examining and organising data [6].

Digital Products and Services

Consumers’ daily products have been changed by recent innovations in microchips, sensor technology and semantic technology. These technologies allow everyday products to be filled with intelligence, sensing and communication abilities. Such a product is referred to as a ‘smart product’. Smart products possess unique properties like being context-aware, pro-active and self-organised. They are capable of doing computations, interacting and communicating with their environment and storing data. They not only know their process steps, which they have passed through but they also know their upcoming steps. These steps include not only processing steps that are to be carried out on incomplete goods, but also the future maintenance operations. Smart services are the services provided through smart technologies, and are characterised as easy-to-use, user-friendly and creative services.

All smart products comprise three prime elements: physical parts; smart components (such as sensors); and components for connectivity (like ports and antennae). Smart products have inbuilt smartness and intelligence compared to traditional products. A smart product uses a different combination of technologies, as it is basically information technology (IT) embedded into a tangible product. Some of the examples of smart products and technologies are global sensing technologies such as GPS, local optical sensing technologies like bar codes and QR codes, short-range sensing technologies such as RFIDs, etc.

Digital Customer Experience

The rapid growth of smart technologies (e.g., smartphones, tablets, wearables), which were once used by youngsters, are now widely accepted by almost all parts of society because now customers intend to explore the potential of these devices fully. The retailers improve sales by using sensors that catch easy information, such as how many customers have entered the store or their behavioural data. Retailers need to understand customer’s demands and their behavioural activities. The relationship between customers and retailers can be increased emotionally by easy and interactive communication and by enjoyable devices. So, the use of smart technology helps customers and retailers to reach mutual goals by achieving better customer experiences [7].

Globalisation, over the past decades, has completely transformed business culture. Geographical boundaries are no longer the boundaries anymore; hence, organisations have a bigger market to chase, though with increased competition. This leads to the launching of new innovative smart products and improving the value of existing products. Appraisal of existing products can be improved by adding new features, driving down cost, minimising defects and therefore improving the overall customer experience.

Customer experience can be improved by smart retail technologies by giving better and individualised services. When customers have to deal with technologically owned services, the concern is how they adopt it and their psychological reactions towards services. Satisfaction and reduction in risk towards smart retail technologies are directly enhanced by smart customer experience. Customers’ well-being, their shopping interests and their intentions are increased by customer satisfaction [8].

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