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Co-creating the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Internet of Things is growing, but is the marketplace ready?

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There’s a long-standing maxim in technology: “Fail fast, fail forward.” Inventors, engineers and entrepreneurs have had to continually try new approaches, risking money and even life and limb (as many test pilots would agree) to get to the next development.

Today, the maxim is being tested, literally, by billions of connected devices. As the Internet of Things (IoT) grows rapidly, there are setbacks to be expected. The data bears this out: Only 26 percent of companies report having an IoT project that was a complete success. But as Shannon Lucas, VP and head of the Emerging Business Global Customer Unit at Ericsson said in an interview, “We’re just at the beginning of the hockey stick of growth for the industrial internet, and really all things IoT.”

Lucas says her work on IoT in industrial settings has convinced her of its revolutionary potential. “Industry 4.0 is a new way of leveraging cellular connectivity to bring new efficiencies into established industries,” she said. “Just like we had the first industry revolution that was around steam, and then we had electricity, and then the information revolution, this one is really transforming how the industrial world uses data to create new business models.”

Those new business models cover everything from automated vehicles to connected healthcare to infrastructure (intelligent water pumps, anyone?). The disparate nature of those models, however, makes development difficult. A fragmented IoT ecosystem can slow down new ideas or adoption across industries.

So how to speed up development and unlock that massive potential? Lucas sees the answer as collaboration between companies, or co-creation, which can be a scary thought in a competitive marketplace. “It’s not normal to sit down with some of your potential competitors and figure out how to co-create new solutions together, but this is one of the challenges facing us if we want to make meaningful solutions to change the marketplace,” she said.

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