Kathy Gibson reports – Small innovation can have a dramatic impact on industries.

This is the word from Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx, who cites the example of the US supermarket Piggly Wiggly, which pioneered self-service, shopping bags with handles and just in time inventory.

Of course, just in time (JIT) came into its own in the factory environment with Toyota’s production line system, which was later re-imported back into the US.

“This took 30 years,” says Goldstuck. “The difference today – and what defines the fourth industrial revolution – is the instant evolution of business models.”

In South Africa, the question on everyone’s lips is whether we are ready for this move.

“The first rule is that the is no one next big thing,” Goldstuck explains.

In fact, there are eight distinct categories of technology that will be impacted in the fourth industrial revolution, he says

A new study from WWW and Syspro shows that South African organisations are poised to embrace new technologies: robotics, IoT, big data and machine learning.

The uptake to now has been low Goldstuck says, but there is a growing readiness to adopt them in the near future.

Cloud is not one of these technologies, he adds – because it has already become mainstream.

“They are all seeing their counterparts globally disrupted by small, nimble companies. If they don’t respond based on their own strategic direction, someone will respond for them,” says Mark Wilson, MD of Syspro in South Africa.

“The result of that would be crisis management.”

The fourth industrial revolution is already in global companies, and we are now beginning to see it happen in South Africa.

Internet of Things (IoT) is one outlier that South African organisations have already embraced, Goldstuck adds.

Software as a services (SaaS) is still the top budgeting priority, slightly ahead of virtual private networking and cloud computing. Virtualisation is an emerging priority, followed by converged communications and outsourced security services.”

Mobile solutions are still fairly low on the priority list at 44,2%, although a number of industry sectors have mobile as the most important priority.

The use to which  mobile is put is email on the go, availability for emergencies, keeping up with office activity, the ability to organise or manage time, communication with colleagues or stakeholders, access information for decision-making, ability to respond to enquiries on demand, and other uses.

The most important hardware used in the enterprise are laptops and desktops, equal at 96,5%,followed by fibre to the office, fixed landlines and office WiFi. Smartphones follow at 71,5%, then ADSL, tables and MiFi devices at just 28,5%.

Smartphones are used in IT software and services, mining and other services, followed by distributors to retailer, manufacturing, logistics, construction and engineering, and the retail trade.

Tablets also still have a place in the retail trade, at 78,3%, followed by IT software and services, and distributors to retailers, health services and education, and other services.

The second rule from the study is that the use case translates into the business case, Goldstuck says.

IoT has enjoyed good adoption, with 66% of South African companies already using it This has been driven by fleet tracking as a result of high crime levels, Goldstuck points out.

OF the one-third of companies not using IoT now, 85% plan to do so in the near future. The only place companies are not embracing IoT is because there is no use case rather than because of cost.

Virtual or augmented reality is becoming a powerful training/education and retail tool in companies, Goldstuck says.

Again, the companies not using this technology are not worried about cost.

Big data and machine learning is gaining traction but about 86% of South African companies are not yet using these technologies. However, 63% of these do plan to use artificial intelligence (AI) soon.

Those who don’t have a business case won’t use it, but all of those with a business case will be using AI soon.

Robotics is still small, with just 6% uptake in South Africa. However, 47% of those not using it now plan to do so soon, and those currently using robotics plan to increase their usage.

Blockchain  what Goldstuck describes as the canary in the gold mine of new technologies – is still very limited, with just 3,2% of South African companies using it.

Of those not using it, 40% plan to; but cost is a huge inhibiting factor, Goldstuck says.

Banks and stock exchanges are investing in the skills required, and 100% of companies currently using blockhain will increase their usage.

“We are only at the very beginning of sing blockchain,” Goldstuck says.

Rule number three is that the business case is proof of profit – not potential for profit.

“This is the biggest thing holding back new technologies n South Africa,” Goldstuck says. “Once we can move past this, we will have a more vigorous and successful startup environment.”

The final rule is that quality is non-negotiable, he says. “You can’t have something that breaks all the time and has o held together with sticky tape.”

The bottom line is that the foundations for the fourth industrial revolution are being laid today, although there is still work to do to make it a reality.


Syspro 8 positions manufacturing for the future

Syspro has launched its new ERP system addressing the challenges in manufacturing and distribution operation and positioning them for the fourth industrial revolution.

“Consider the diversity that exists in the manufacturing sector, the vast differences between Industrial Machinery & Equipment and Food and Beverage production for example. When it comes to business systems, clearly one-size does not fit-all,” explains Syspro’s chief product officer, Paulo de Matos.

Syspro’s new release focuses on solving industry-specific business challenges with a simple approach. In many instances, it’s the operational differences amongst businesses that determine their distinct competitive advantage, so Syspro has provided a solution that not only encompasses industry-specific solutions but also allows the business owner to configure the software to best represent their specific operational needs rather than one that dictates, or governs how their business is run.

“Businesses are increasingly concerned with Industry 4.0, the technological disruption of which has the ability to reshape the competitive landscape, forcing manufacturing companies to face the challenge of remaining relevant and sustainable in an increasingly complex environment. Specialized knowledge has become the game changer.

“By combining that level of flexibility and customisation with the ability to collect data more efficiently than ever before, from both humans and machines, we’ve provided the basis for a business to evolve from real-time analytics, to predictive analytics, supporting the Industrial Internet of Things and Industry 4.0. This ensures that the management team stays current, and in control of the business to boost competitiveness. At SYSPRO, we are committed to future-proofing our customers business,” says De Matos.

Implementing a generic ERP system requires a great deal of unnecessary customization. SYSPRO’s built-for-industry ERP is designed to help business owners benefit from best practices, especially in highly-regulated industries, while minimizing the cost, and the time involved in ERP implementation.

Our extensive hands-on experience in manufacturing and distribution, has enabled us to develop specific functionality and solutions tailored around the business owner’s specific industry needs, importantly delivered by an ecosystem that has the industry experience to add value to the process,” concludes De Matos.