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One of the concepts behind industry 4.0 involves holding, using and sharing large quantities of data to facilitate the speed and efficiency of supply networks. This allows direct contact with a supplier when key inputs, needles for a sewing machine for example, require replenishing. An extreme example would be a Rolls Royce aero engine in a large passenger jet sending diagnostic data during a transatlantic flight to their headquarters in real time.
This data can then be analysed and their engineers at the arrival airport fully briefed on what work is required. The airline pays, not to buy an engine, but for effective mileage, or “power by the hour” and this approach has transformed the industry. Costs can be better planned for, planes spend more time in the air, and new engine designs incorporate improvements needed to minimise the maintenance problems uncovered.
Big data goes much further than that as it allows immense quantities of data about consumers in particular, but other areas also, to be interrogated by artificial intelligence searching for useful action points. Given that information on purchasing in stores coming from tills and store purchase cards just a few years ago was too immense for human managed facilities, one can hardly conceive the quantities of data today’s smart phone using consumers hand over without realising it.
To store and share this data, cloud systems are most frequently used. This brings into focus the issue of security since data theft and associated crimes are growing so fast. The importance of security of online information has grown further with new European GDPR laws related to the holding of personal information. We are increasingly hearing of customers who have suffered from electronic theft or disruption and this is no longer a thing that happens to others.
I certainly wonder if even at an individual level we are not equally as vulnerable as for some time my antiviral systems have been picking up problems in a way I do not remember in the past. I have quite a high profile on the Internet and Social Media as I teach marketing as well as get involved in it, and there are some very aggressive, and well resourced, animal rights people around the world who appear to have been looking. They can do great harm, far beyond just destroying data, and it is all very unpredictable. Luckily, my career is behind me so if they choose reputational as well as financial attack there is no future career to destroy.
It is all a great warning, to everyone involved in our trade that we are linked into a global environment and are in no way insulated from such threats. Being fully prepared and very vigilant in all matters concerning online and computerised data is clearly vital.
Dr Mike Redwood
July 17, 2018
Follow Dr Mike Redwood on twitter: @michaelredwood
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