The 4th Industrial Revolution: Plan Your Path to Success An Interactive Guide for Product-Oriented Companies
In this guide: How to approach the new world of 4IR

With so much change happening, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the possibilities, and to get distracted by "shiny objects" that aren't the most appropriate thing for your business to focus on.

We've created this interactive guide as an orientation point: a place to pause and survey the landscape of 4IR, and start to plan your journey through it.

So, what would you like to know?
Why everything starts with the customer


Choosing the right approach: operational improvement or business model change?


The importance of the Connected Enterprise


You path to 4IR: aligning people, process and technology


How Oracle can help


Performance step change

4IR technologies are helping companies to make exponential improvements to existing processes - vastly improving efficiency, utilization and profitability. Examples of step-change performance improvements include:

  • Flexible production technology means different versions of a product can be manufactured to individual customers’ specifications. It’s custom production with the economics of mass production.

  • Data from sensors in the cargo fleet and containers is used to optimize routes, modes and load levels, enabling goods to be transported faster and more efficiently. Masonry firm Mutual Materials saved $1m in interbranch freight costs with intelligent logistics.

 Read more

  • A rapid testing capability for complex discrete products (such as aircraft), using sensor data to build and test a digital equivalent Siemens uses a digital twin to test its industrial control systems in a virtual factory before manufacturing them in its real facility Read more before manufacturing.

  • A connected and collaborative environment to source, design, test and commercialize new product ideas faster.

New services / business models

For product-oriented companies, many of the new revenue streams and business models involve a shift from a product business to a service business. Examples of new business models include:

  • A product is delivered and maintained as an ongoing service A tire manufacturer delivers new tires as the customer’s old ones wear out, based on sensor data from the vehicle. Rather than buy new tires each time, the customer pays a regular subscription for the service. on a subscription basis. The vendor generates continuous service revenues and the customer benefits from a predictable, monthly cost.

  • Customers do not buy the product, but rent it when they need it. A family summons a driverless car when they need to make a journey, rather than owning a car of their own. The manufacturer retains ownership of the car, and telematics in the vehicle enable per-use pricing. This saves money for the customer and enables manufacturers to generate regular revenues rather than one-time transactions.

  • The product continuously monitors and reports on its own status, Sensors in a leased front loader detect a problem with the oil pressure in the machine. That triggers an automatic service request with the leasing company, who dispatch an engineer to fix it before the machine has to be taken out of operation. triggering a service request if certain parameters are not met. Over time, faults can be predicted well in advance of any failure.

  • The customer manufactures the product locally, An auto parts company allows its network of dealers to 3D-print parts on their premises for faster vehicle repair. The parts company enjoys substantially lower shipping costs. using specs licensed from the manufacturer. The customer gets the item faster and the manufacturer slashes materials, inventory and shipping costs.

  • The customer does not buy the product but instead buys the right to use the product, Philips provides “light as a service” to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, supplying all light fittings and maintaining them under a service contract, while retaining ownership of the hardware. Read more which is owned and maintained by the vendor.

The connected enterprise

4IR can represent a major shift in the way your organization develops, markets and sells its products, and in the way you view and interact with customers, suppliers and partners. It's critical to have everyone on board with the change, otherwise it may not get off the ground.

For example, if your salespeople don't feel excited and confident selling the new service, they may fall back on selling the "old product" because they feel more comfortable with it.

You'll need to think very carefully about training, hiring, organizational structure, KPIs and incentives, especially if you're making a wholesale change from a product-based model to a service-based one. One popular approach, for example, is to build an internal startup to "test drive" the innovative product and service.

Where to start: Start with the customer: map the complete experience you want your customers to have with your new 4IR product or service, then assess where your current organization and skills need to change in order to deliver it.

Moving to a 4IR approach will undoubtedly change the way your business operates - possibly quite radically.

The business processes you use today may not be fit for purpose in a 4IR world, especially if they are confined to silos and don't connect the various areas of your enterprise that need to be aligned in order to deliver the new service.

Companies that are succeeding with 4IR are using Cloud technologies to orchestrate processes across business functions. The results are threefold: customers enjoy a seamless experience, the organization can transition to the new model in the most efficient and agile way, and the flexibility of the cloud means it's easy to keep adapting to changing customer demands and needs.

Here are five examples of 4IR-ready business processes that Oracle has helped leading companies to adopt:

  • Innovate to Commercialize
  • Source to Settle
  • Order to Cash
  • Plan to Produce
  • Maintain to Optimize

Where to start: Every organization's journey to 4IR is different, and a lot depends on how siloed (or not) your critical processes are today. Start by mapping the ideal customer experience of your new service, then assess which business processes need to be aligned in order to deliver it.


To get the most from your 4IR initiative, you'll need the right technology to support it. In choosing the right tools to support your strategy, it's essential to consider your entire technology environment, including:

  • Which of your products do you plan to connect to the Internet of Things, how will they be connected, and which technologies will you need in order to do that?

  • You’ll need a technology infrastructure that supports the entire lifecycle of the service or revenue stream you intend to create, including R&D, production, service delivery, sales, service, human resources, collaboration, and financial planning and management. This is where Cloud comes into play - with applications that are continually updated and designed to support modern, end-to end business processes.

  • You’ll also want to be able to make the best possible use of the data that your initiative generates: including data from your connected devices, from your production processes, or from your customer service interactions.

  • Re-organizing your workforce around the new 4IR model may require more remote and mobile access to core systems and data than your people have currently.

Where to start: Once you’ve defined what the customer experience of your new service should be, and assessed the changes you’ll need to make to your organization in order to deliver it, you can evaluate how well positioned your current technology landscape is to support those changes