2000-2020: the digital print evolution
Where Industry 4.0 was about smart manufacturing, there’s now widespread talk of a new trend – Industry 5.0. It recognises the importance of human involvement to generate ideas, enable change and build mutually rewarding customer relationships. You could see it as the ‘rehumanisation’ of automation.
It’s about bringing the human touch back to manufacturing and increasing collaboration between people and smart systems for long-term success. It’s not anti-automation, but it emphasises the intelligent use of automation, enhancing the roles of both humans and machines.
Industry 5.0 says that the future is about creating a harmonious relationship between humans and machines and enabling them to work better together to build a more successful business in the long-term.
I think print is perfectly positioned to adopt the principles of Industry 5.0. Our industry has always combined technological innovation and human creativity, coupling world-class engineering with amazing design and artistry. Print is intelligent and connected, as well as evocative and emotional.
The point is to look beyond automation for its own sake and to focus on the added human value you can create when you optimise processes. So, if you can reduce operator involvement in routine tasks, you can free up the intelligent, creative humans you employ to take on higher level responsibilities. Armed with more time and high-quality data, they can supervise systems, make dynamic decisions, and seek out opportunities to do more for customers.
The aim of automation is not to get rid of jobs but to change and enhance them to bring out the true value of the whole team. They will analyse the up-to-the-minute production data they hold on the fly, using the information more intelligently and proactively to make better business decisions and perhaps even identify future trends. And technology advancements like 5G networks will put this data at their fingertips, delivering a real-time view of the business, enabling rapid adjustments and allowing for more valuable and personalised interactions with their customers.
Print businesses actually have this data to hand already, but many just aren’t using it to their full advantage. Many staff are focused on operations and are not driven by the business data. In fact, putting this information in the hands of sales teams and customer-facing staff means they can foster change and add value, creating services that better match customers’ expectations.
For today’s print businesses to succeed and innovate, they need to adapt and upskill around how data is used to deliver better, more tailored services. And the focus on data and customer insight will attract fresh talent and fuel innovation.
No matter where you are in your digital transformation, you have a chance to implement more intelligent, connected processes that bring together the best of your technical capabilities and your people to maximise the value you offer to your customers. And thanks to advances in software, print can tap into the opportunity for merging digital and physical communications, through concepts such as integrated programmatic print campaigns.
The future will be about combining human and machine intelligence to create stand-out products and services that truly differentiate your business.