The convergence of digital, physical and biological technologies is transforming the world around us. This new world will be shaped by the companies that can best harness ‘Business 4.0’.

Digital to its core, Business 4.0 encompasses technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence. It is fundamentally redefining how organisations interact with customers.

The organisations that will thrive in the future will be those that align their business models with technological innovation. It is the responsibility of all companies – regardless of size or structure – to respond to this digital challenge now.

But some are better equipped to respond than others. Those that have been quick to rise to the challenge are already beginning to reap the rewards.

Four such companies outlined their approaches to Business 4.0 at the TCS Summit Europe 2017 in Madrid, and the ways technology is revolutionising how they drive growth.


1. Predicting customer behaviour

AI is becoming increasingly prevalent in the aviation industry. Airlines like KLM use the technology to respond to customers on social media, generate answers that assist call centers, and even carry out maintenance work on aircraft.

But there are other ways AI can be used to attract new customers and generate increased revenue. KLM is exploring how the technology can be used to tailor deals to specific customers.

Jos Kerssens, Vice President of Development Passenger Business at KLM, told TCS Summit delegates: “We’re trying to predict what will be the next destination or ticket for customers so we can make personalized offers.

This sales approach is not yet in operation, but it could eventually work by crunching data from social media platforms.

Kerssens added: “Attracting new millennial customers is hard, digital is key. The process has to be easy, fast and ‘awesome’ – if it’s not they will leave and never come back.”


2. Saving time and cutting costs  

Automation and AI provide the perfect solution to reducing cost and time pressures associated with repetitive tasks in the energy sector.

Marc Lallemand, Chief Information Officer at Engie Electrabel M&S Belux – Engie is the world’s biggest non-state-owned energy company – told delegates that his company’s use of technology enables scripting of repetitive tasks.


Meanwhile, Lallemand also acknowledges how virtual signatures and facial recognition can save time and money, while improving customer security.

He added: “We have got board-level buy-in, but changing company culture can be a tough job. It is important to win workers over. The unions are with us.”


3. Overcoming legacy issues

Delivering a digital agenda is often easier said than done. But it is a project worth persevering with, especially for larger organizations with legacy issues.

Having progressed from an old legacy IT landscape, Tata Steel has adopted a digital approach that – despite its size – has allowed it to become a disruptive business.

It uses technologies such as smart coil and cognitive automation in its manufacturing process. And it is now in the very early stages of developing an augmented reality solution that will enable more informed decision-making.

Kees Gerretse, CIO at Tata Steel, said: “It can be difficult to deliver a digital agenda, but steel is quite an innovative business.”


4. Making the most of data

The postal service is one of the oldest industries in the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s not open to new technologies.

Nordic postal company PostNord has successfully integrated technologies including AI and the Internet of Things to assist with the delivery of mail.

Bjorn Ekstedt, CIO at PostNord, told the TCS Summit: “We have a wealth of information, we scan everything. But we need to find the best way to make use of this data.”

Channeling data into machine learning systems is one way of making use of this abundance of information. Such systems could be used to calculate arrival times and the risk of delay.

This shift towards Business 4.0 will enable PostNord, and other likeminded companies, to evolve from a traditional production-focused model to an information-based approach, benefitting both the customer and the company itself.


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