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Industry 4.0

Processes for Industry 4.0

Europe's industry needs to meet the challenges of Industry 4.0 and the IoT now. There are many aspects that contribute to the successful development of business models and processes.

06 Feb. 2017 Robert Strobl

Business processes & enterprise architecture

Prozesse Industrie 4.0
Industry 4.0 and the IoT create new hurdles for established business models and processes. (Photo: Montri Nipitvittaya /

Increasing digitization and networking of the real and digital worlds are creating massive change – in our personal lives as well as in business. The next industrial revolution is enabling new business models – and forcing companies once again to optimize their core and support processes.

Business process analyses and blueprints must be designed in the future to apply beyond internal corporate boundaries. Because platforms will be a cornerstone of Industry 4.0 ecosystems, business strategies must be aligned with innovative business models and the resulting end-to-end service processes. The entire enterprise architecture should provide a comprehensive analytical overview of all relevant customer relationships, partners on the platform and value chains. Restructured business processes must encompass product individualization, flexible and efficient production down to single-unit batches, and the coupling of manufacturing and high-end services (such as predictive maintenance).

This will expand the requirements on management systems, which will need to better support companies in developing a transparent, cross-cutting vision of the connections between organizational and operational structures (processes) and the IT infrastructure in play.

Digital process management

Like in the real world, process management and business process management platforms must also become digital and cannot limit themselves in future to the processes and organizational models within a single company. Under the auspices of digitization and Industry 4.0, the following aspects should be considered for a comprehensive analysis and further development of business models and related processes:

Compliance: Innovative business models and the resulting processes must comply with laws and industry regulations. Extending business models towards service processes and product individualization will bring even more compliance-related regulations into play for companies. It must be possible to clearly and collaboratively order and structure the relevant compliance standards, analyze impacts on processes and design processes in compliance with these standards.

Risk management and internal control systems (ICS): The structure and organization of an ICS will become even more complex due to the increased integration of more partners and even the customer into the value chain.

Effective risk aggregation mechanisms and assessments will be needed to help companies identify true weak spots and develop suitable countermeasures.

Measurability: For quantitative process assessment from the customer perspective, operational management on the shop floor using sensors and feedback mechanisms must be linked to the tactical and strategic "overall process and value creation network" level.

The relevant stakeholders – from executive leadership to shift manager – must have access to the necessary indicators in the BPM platforms.

Project and action management: Digital technologies support rapid and continuous development and change – so the initial restructuring of business models and processes will be followed by more modifications. This results in a large number of simultaneous actions and projects. If these are not transparently linked to the relevant assets and artifacts and accessible to those responsible, chaos threatens.

Interconnected enterprise architecture

Similarly demanding challenges must be met by the interconnected enterprise architecture management (EAM): Cyber-physical production systems (CPPS) will form the heart of Industry 4.0. Technological enablers such as ubiquitous and cloud computing as well as the IoT must be connected to existing IT architecture. If the transparency created through enterprise architecture management is used to manage, monitor and develop it further, this will create a foundation for integrating smart products, production means and manufacturing systems into the IT architecture.

With the Internet of Things, these objects and machines will be able to communicate independently among themselves in the future, analyze incoming and outgoing data and introduce corresponding measures. This will create an even greater increase in complexity than heretofore, and the traditionally separate field of enterprise architecture management will need to provide a foundation for the successful introduction of Industry 4.0 components. Answering the following questions will be key:

Business IT alignment:

  • Which applications support business processes today and will do so in the future?

Application portfolio management:

  • Which applications are there? Which are planned? Who is responsible for them?
  • What applications do we need to invest in?
  • What does the life cycle of the applications look like?
  • What interfaces are there? Who uses them?

Master data management:

  • Which data objects flow through which interfaces?
  • Where is the "golden source principle" not met?

Technology portfolio management:

  • What are the recommended technologies and platforms?
  • Which applications are involved in a change of technology?

Business process management solutions that meet all the requirements for next generation BPM and EAM described here will help companies on the path to Industry 4.0.