Matías Bertoni
Director General
Expert Contributor

Highly Synergistic Ecosystems Advance I4.0 Digital Transformation

By Matías Bertoni | Tue, 09/13/2022 - 13:00

The convergence of exponential technologies, also called Industry 4.0, a name coined in Germany at the beginning of the last decade (2011), makes it clear that we are experiencing a new technical, economic and social revolution.

The primary objective of implementing I4.0 technologies within the manufacturing industry sector is to support and facilitate the digital transformation of all processes. Those companies that achieve this will belong to the select companies that can be called Smart Industry.

Achieving true digital transformation generates a high added value impact, including:

  • Increased profitability

  • Sustainability, stability, adaptability

  • Increased efficiency along the value chain through visibility and integration

  • Increased human cognitive abilities

  • Efficient and healthy processes and machines

  • Digitalization (permanence) of knowledge

  • Improved competitiveness of enterprises and the region itself

To promote the adoption of digital transformation in the manufacturing industry in Mexico, different initiatives have been generated since 2017 that involve three important actors, whose synergies allow the generation of economic growth in any region: the famous triple helix of government, academia and business.

All these initiatives seek to promote I4.0 adoption and digital transformation to achieve:

  • Generation of talent trained in the knowledge, use and implementation of 4.0 technologies. Strong efforts between the industry and the universities to generate career plans adapted to the new needs.

  • Building a database of the state of maturity of the adoption of technologies in I4.0 for implementing actions where the absence of one or more 4.0 technologies is observed.

  • Connection of technology startups and scale-ups to test their new 4.0 products or services in large companies while at the same time promoting cultural transformation to accept changes within each organization.

  • Promotion of Humanistic Ethics when adopting these new technologies to minimize the impact on workers due to the adoption of automation, discussions on a universal salary and avoiding the introduction of biases in artificial intelligence developments for decision-making.

  • And recently, boosting the momentum for those things that are so important for our environment, such as support for the reduction of C02 emissions in all industries. (Are you already working toward this? No? Please start now; do it for everyone.)

It is very well known that to generate innovation, especially open innovation, it is extremely important to be linked to an entire ecosystem that actively promotes and facilitates innovation and  to also carry out a process of digital transformation, since this cannot be done in isolation. To that end, it is recommended to rely on universities, clusters and associations, innovative laboratories, specialized consultants and companies specialized in the implementation of these exponential technologies.

Nuevo Leon is a referent in Latin America for having a strong ecosystem of clusters. It was one of the first Mexican states to promote a movement to generate synergies among the entire ecosystem for the adoption of Industry 4.0 in an agile and urgent manner. This movement was called Iniciativa Nuevo León 4.0, whose objective is to turn Nuevo León into a smart economy. This ecosystem is made up of the government, the 13 clusters in Nuevo León, CAINTRA, CANIETI, Horno 3, industry in general, academies through its four main universities, innovative laboratories, startups, and venture capital.

These last two are of vital importance to achieve the objective because innovation through startups will be essential in generating economic growth, as is the venture capital to finance them.

Although a great deal of progress has been made, achieving the wide adoption of digital transformation within industries in Mexico remains a challenge: we still find many industries of all sizes that have low levels of digitization, as mentioned by Julian Coulter (2022) in his article, Leading Digital Transformation, that includes a recent study published by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in conjunction with Google:

Only 30 percent of companies in Mexico have managed to create significant value through the integration of digital solutions, influencing work culture, operations and how they interact with their clients to achieve better results.

Of the 70 percent of companies that lag, the reason why is very simple. Generally, the aim to implement digital transformation exists but actions are not executed beyond pilot tests. Sometimes the ideas and solutions do not permeate the entire organization, or the idea of “wanting to transform” only exists in one or very few members of the company. It often lacks the all-important C-level sponsorship. 

An African proverb says that “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.”

To execute digital transformation processes it is essential to be accompanied along the way. I do not recommend going it alone, even if you want to get there quickly, because it may be that despite learning from your failures, which is nevertheless valuable, going fast may not take you anywhere.

I highly recommend linking up with associations, clusters and chambers that have I4.0 committees, as they will know how to accompany you and connect you with specialists who can help you throughout the process of digital and cultural transformation.

Photo by:   Matías Bertoni