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Industry 4.0: An Opportunity or a Threat?: A Qualitative Study Among Manufacturing Companies
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Manufacturing companies are currently going through exciting times. Technological developments follow each other up in high pace and many opportunities occur for companies to be smarter than their competitors. The disruptive notion of these developments is so big that people talk about a new, fourth, industrial revolution. This industrial revolution, that is being characterized and driven by seven drivers is called industry 4.0. The popularity of this industrial revolution is seemingly apparent everywhere and is being described, by some, as “manufacturing its next act”. Even though this sounds promising and applicable to every company, the practical consequences and feasibility are, most of the times, being overlooked. Especially a theoretical foundation on differences in feasibility between small and medium - sized enterprises (SMEs) and large firms is missing. In this thesis, we are going to take the reader through a journey that will help readers understand the positioning and perspective of firms regarding industry 4.0 and eventually the practical effects of industry 4.0 on business models of manufacturing firms will be presented. This research provides enough clarity on the topic to answer the follow research questions.

This thesis aims to fill the gap in available research in which business model change is being linked to industry 4.0. Due to the novelty of industry 4.0 few researches on the practical effects are not yet fully explored in the literature. Business models, a more traditional area of research, has not yet touched upon the effects industry 4.0 has on the business models of company. Our purpose is to combine these two topics and provide both SMEs and large firms an overview on what the effects of industry 4.0 are in practice. Furthermore, the perspectives and positioning of our sample firms can provide clarity for potential implementers, since wide range of participants provide different insights on the topic and therefore give clarity on the practical use of industry 4.0.

During this, the researchers, by converting observations and findings into theory, follow an inductive approach. The study uses a qualitative design and semi-structured interviews has been conducted to collect the data. Our sample firms consist of both SMEs and large firms and are all located within Europe.

The researchers found that there are some key differences in the positivity on industry 4.0 between the academic and business world. Companies might be highly automated and have implemented some of the drivers of industry 4.0, but the definition itself is not popular. Where some of our sample firms are convinced industry 4.0 is the new way of working, most of them are using the technologies simply because it is the best in the market and helps them to follow their strategy. Industry 4.0 can be seen as an interesting tool for firms to become smarter and achieve better results, but not at all costs. Especially for SMEs implementing industry 4.0 should not be the sole goal of the company, since it is decided by many factors whether or not industry 4.0 will succeed in the company. In terms of business models, industry 4.0 causes many changes. The role of industry 4.0 can be seen as an enabler for change, rather than the reason to build a business model around.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
Keywords [en]
Industry 4.0; manufacturing industry; big data; CPSs; internet of things; cloud computing; business model;
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-150008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-150008DiVA, id: diva2:1229842
Educational program
Master's Programme in Management; Master's program in Business Development and Internationalisation
Supervisors
Examiners
Projects
Social science; Business AdministratiomAvailable from: 2018-07-02 Created: 2018-07-02 Last updated: 2018-07-02Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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