Before I take a look at what the year ahead has in store for UK industry, I always review my thoughts from this time last year – a sort of, “goodbye 2018, hello 2019” exercise.
Last year, I spoke of stoic optimism and a “steady as she goes” year, based on the strong underlying foundations of UK industry despite the choppy political and economic waters.
I still firmly believe the opportunities provided by the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) and digitisation of industry are both immense and critical for UK industry. According to our friends at EEF, the sector presently employs some 2.6 million people, contributes 11% of GVA, accounts for 44% of exports, represents 70% of R&D and accounts for 13% of business investment.
Manufacturing is hugely important to the UK, and I see the clear and present opportunity for each of those metrics to sustain positive growth in 2019.
Having said that, those choppy political and economic waters I referred to last year show no sign of abating just yet, and the uncertainty created is unhelpful to UK industry, as is the vortex of attention that Brexit pulls away from focusing on the opportunities and planning ahead. And it is important for industry to look beyond Brexit where possible.
In October I was delighted to co-host a leadership summit with the US Ambassador to Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Robert Johnson, at the new US Embassy in London.
Delivering ROI on Fourth Industrial Revolution Technologies
The speaker and panel session on the day were dedicated to delivering the return on investment from 4IR technologies. During my address to the assembled leaders, I pointed out that, in my view, the defining issue of our generation in industry is not Brexit, but rather, how successfully we are able to adopt 4IR technologies.
I also welcomed the thoughts of our keynote speaker, the honourable Alan Mak MP, Chair and Founder of the CPPG on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, on how to progress this agenda in parliament.
The UK remains very well placed to be a leader in the new industrial age, and I am confident that UK industry will continue to move in the right direction.
What’s more, I feel keenly the responsibility of companies such as Rockwell Automation to support UK industry in discovering the ROI that is achievable with improvements in efficiencies, speed and profitability through the application of connected technology.
I’m very proud of how the Rockwell Automation UK team stepped up to this responsibility in 2018, and I’d like to go on record thanking them for their considerable efforts. We will continue to lead out through 2019 and take every opportunity to support UK industry in delivering its own potential.
For our customers, I believe that 2019 will be the year that the IIoT will begin to deliver really significant value. For those companies not yet applying a digital strategy, the ROI of those at the forefront will make the case for a Connected Enterprise irresistible, and we will also see its adoption amplify throughout industry this year.
Integration Industrial IOT
To evidence this point a little further, according to Gartner, 30% of operations will be fully integrated through IoT technologies by 2019. With 60% of the largest 2000 manufacturers reliant on digital platforms for their industrial ecosystems by 2020 and with 80% of use cases that require human-to-machine interactions using immersive interfaces like augmented reality by 2030, the direction and speed of travel for global manufacturing is set.
Arguably the biggest Rockwell Automation news announcement of 2018 was the investment of $1bn into PTC as the two companies formed a strategic alliance.
We’ve since been working together to offer the compound benefit of the alliance to our customers, and we already see 2019 shaping up to prove the immense value of the relationship.
In November of 2018, we launched new software that through intuitive, user friendly interfaces can bring together data from the plant floor and the IT layer and perform automated advanced analytics – and it also delivers augmented reality capabilities.
Those are the same capabilities that Gartner predicts will be involved in 80% of human to machine interfaces by 2030. It’s the technology of tomorrow, starting to make an impact and deliver return on investment in 2019. And it’s a good example of 4IR really starting to deliver for enterprises.
I’d be keen to hear your thoughts on 2019 – you can contact me in the usual ways, or drop me an email here.
Do you expect 4IR technologies to deliver for your business in 2019?
Do you have any references that you’d be willing to share to help other UK organisations to justify accelerating their investment?