The fourth industrial revolution is in full swing. Its vision – well-known as "Industry 4.0" or "Smart Industry" – to decentralize production processes into autonomous but interconnected units along global value chains is about to become reality. The overall promise to raise customer satisfaction through individualized products, while at the same time increasing productivity and sustainability will change production and consumption radically. The social and economic implications of Smart Industry go far beyond ‘simple’ technical links which offers opportunities but raises also concerns:
Will we be having a production without humans and how will our society handle the risk of increasing job losses?
Will these new technologies change organizations and how can we create new, appropriate business models?
Will we exploit our natural resources when further increasing production and how can we systematically increase sustainability?
Tackling such questions about the implications of Smart Industry requires a deeper understanding of business and societal interrelations and joint multidisciplinary initiatives. Smart Industry is not only a technological but much more a societal challenge which requires high-tech with a human touch in a responsible and sustainable way.
As part of a university that carries the motto ‘High Tech, Human Touch’, the Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences (BMS) of the University of Twente is uniquely positioned to engage in research on the origins, developments and consequences of this transformation of the economy and society. The Faculty consists of various departments that focus on business processes, human resources, information systems, communication sciences, policy studies, sociology, economics and the philosophy of science. Through the combination of these sub-disciplines and its connection to the engineering-oriented faculties of the University of Twente, the faculty of BMS can proactively anticipate and explore different possible scenarios (revolving around critical societal challenges), explain and predict (and teach about) the consequences of smart industry for systems of production, management, and governance.
The BMS Smart Industry Working Group has developed a research roadmap focused on the implications of Smart Industry to business, society and people. The full roadmap containing the systematic bibliographic research is available here. Below you can find a short summary of the roadmap.