Industry 4.0: New Technologies and Potential for Increased Value Creation
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How to increase value creation from industrial production? This is an enduring question for business leaders, researchers and politicymakers alike. This explorative study examines the concept industry 4.0, which opportunities and challenges this concept presents to SMEs and which factors that affect their ability to take advantage of these new opportunities. First, a theoretical overview of the concepts industry 4.0, innovation, technology, competitiveness and internationalisation is provided. Based on this, a framework for understanding the interlinkages of these concepts is developed. Through a case study of six firms, insight is gathered which are analysed in a discussion based on the framework and theoretical foundation. Finally, some implications for future research, managers and policymakers are presented. Industry 4.0 presents firms with new opportunities to modernise industrial production and increase value creation. This provided they are capable of exploiting the associated uncertainty, have the capabilities necessary and don´t remain too constricted or limited by their existing resource base. While customised products are perceived by the interviewees to hinder automation of production, theory suggests that customisation may in fact be a driving force behind industry 4.0. Furthermore, it may present new opportunities to succeed with combination strategies. Core rigidities, especially along the values dimension may hamper the ability firms have to innovate and adapt to industry 4.0. It is suggested that the importance of dynamic capabilities, absorptive capacity and exploration is likely to increase in the shift to a new regime for industrial production. For managers, this study directs attention to some challenges and opportunities that should be addressed facing the fourth industrial revolution. Several propositions are developed that could be basis for future research, and implications that will be important topics for policy development under industry 4.0 are suggested.