DiPP - The Big Switch: is Manufacturing 4.0 taking us to Society 5.0?

27 Jun 2018
8:30 AM – 10:00 AM CEST
Rue de la Science 14 (7th floor), 1040 Brussels

On 16 May 2016, the ‘Digital in Practice Programme’ caught a glimpse of ‘the factory of the future’: we heard about the urgent need to create opportunities for demand-side companies to cooperate with supply-side business and organisations in a trusted environment. Things have moved along nicely since: the joint use of AI-based systems and IoT opens new opportunities for Europe, which has a strong foothold in the leading global standard initiative One M2M. Time for a variety of businesses to revisit design, production, logistics around IoT construed for and with humans and to tread new ways of working which enhance the role of humans. Time also for DIGITALEUROPE’s ‘Digital in Practice Programme’ to provide an educated progress report.


  • Franck Boissière

    Policy Coordinator & Programme Officier, IoT Unit, DG CONNECT

  • Alain Cuq

    Vice President Digital Innovation and Ecosystems, Michelin

  • Renaud Di Francesco

    Director, Europe Technology Standards Office, Sony Europe

  • Dr Martin Sauer

    Senior Expert External Affairs, Governmental and Political Relations, Robert Bosch GmbH


  • Patrice Chazerand

    Director at DIGITALEUROPE

As multiple technologies converge, they need to be integrated in order to for them to meet social challenges. Common solutions have to be found for a variety of ‘verticals’ to benefit from synergies generated by a number of commonalities. This joint quest for multi-purpose solutions has DG CNECT, RTD, GROW, ENER, AGRI pull together in the direction best illustrated by the latest DiPP workshop on farming.

As a matter of fact, many sectors tend to wait till the ICT industry will take the first step. It is therefore critical to facilitate cross-fertilization over the many issues they face in common : privacy, security, management, organization, etc. The Commission has used several tools to foster a better experience throughout the value-chain: thorough education on what it takes to digitize ; regulation that helps ; best standards.


For instance, €100m have been allocated to five major projects that span agriculture, health, wearables, automotive, smart cities. Smart energy, smart buildings will come next. The open call methodology of earmarking funds for newcomers to contribute new technologies or new use cases once a project has started  works well. In particular, it helps SMEs to gain visibility and to find a nexus where to meet other players. In the same vein, Digital Innovation Hubs provide space where science can meet industry and users all across Europe, thus jumpstarting virtuous, productive dynamics.

Standards matter

IoT and AI work hand in hand. In digital speak, Leibniz’ famous « Nihil est in intellectu nisi prius in sensu » would read : AI owes everything to sensors. Indeed, IoT’s typical path will go from real world probed by sensors to AI’s virtual world and back to real world where humans will make decisions based on AI’s assessment and recommendation. Whereas the ultimate value of data lies in driving decision-making, standards – in particular those in the One M2M global ‘family’ – provide the chart and other navigation tools that make treading this path such a rewarding experience. By securing interoperability between systems, by generating the most coveted ‘network effect’, they are definitely ‘the language of business’. The Commission is pulling its weight in this respect:



ETSI too makes an outstanding contribution to federate standard-setting and to strengthen market acceptance at global level, for example by organizing hackathons around the world.

Tailor-made pathways to digitization

It falls on each business model to design its preferred avenue to digitization. One company dubbed this transformative development ‘A better way forward’, starting with consumer mobility services and turning the digital transition into one of four priorities of core activities, together with customer focus, empowerment and simplification. After comprehensive benchmarking and once made an integral part of the company’s DNA, digital technology became a key enabler of the « Excellent Factory » in all facilities around the world, along these guiding principles : brownfielding facilities to fit the 21st century ; value-driven; ‘Think big/start small/roll out fast’; people-centric. The resulting 10-year vision helped to measure the magnitude of the challenge as well as to design steps to be taken to address it successfully. Demos, use cases specific to a factory worked as effective tools to assess the parameters of each and every site and to figure out the digital transformation’s impact on RoI, keeping in mind that lean management is a prerequisite : indeed a site has to be deemed to be digitally-ready first, lest adding a digital layer upon a mess might only result in a bigger, digital mess.

Empowering tens of thousands of employees across the world posed another challenge, as everybody had to appropriate the ‘spirit of empowerment’, i.e. how they can add value to a wider group via an approach which brings the best out of people while changing the job itself. Proper evangelization to this effect has to rely on distributed training whereby personal experience is allowed to gather strength like a snowball: in contrast, prescriptions from the center wouldn’t work.

In a nutshell, digital transformation succeeds when the right information reaches the right people in the right time. Digital technology is therefore a key enabler of user-centric culture.

On the threat side, we may want to borrow again from another giant of pre-digital times. Schopenhauer introduced a distinction between what we are, what we have and what we represent: this split might usefully lead our risk evaluation to focus on ID, property and reputation.

Value creation

The value of data lies ultimately with its ability to drive decision-making: data or information does not hold value in and of itself. Value is created by people using data. Digital and empowerment work hand in hand, which explains why digital transformation inevitably feels like a major cultural change.

Leading-edge technologies such as Big Data, IoT, Blockchain, AI, etc take value creation to the next level: they bring more speed and efficiency to the manufacturing process, more accurate control and more flexibility to adjust to market changes. By combining the IT approach to that of the sector concerned, they also strengthen security throughout the manufacturing process. But they carry their own challenges: appropriate talent is hard to find, the volatility of data is increasing. The 5G Alliance for Connected Industries and Automation

https://www.5g-acia.org/publications/5g-for-connected-industries-and-automation-white-paper/ has identified the best applications of 5G technology in manufacturing environments: this development might open new paths worth exploring beyond telcos’ offerings. Other contributions from various industries will need continuing political support if Europe is to stay in the world’s top league of digital transformation, if only as a safety net aimed to provide enough comfort and confidence to keep fear at bay.

Manufacturung 4.0 meets Society 5.0

Will humans stay in the driving seat of decision-making? Relations between humans and machines are actually complex, showing at least two sides: humans control and use IoT ; in turn, they are watched, possibly harmed (drones) by IoT. This set of issues stands front and center of Society 5.0.

Where Manufacturing 4.0 and Society 5.0 meet is in relying on human-centricity to build trust. Another reference to technology continuum recalled the case of René Carmille during WWII: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Carmille This true hero is often portrayed as an early ethical hacker, a dubious privilege that cost him his life. His tragic story exemplifies how seriously those who design leading-edge technology should take their responsibility. Ethics, another major overlap with Society 5.0, should be at the heart of the reflection of the High-Level expert group on AI launched on 27 June by the European Commission.

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