On the First Day of Christmas, My Boss Gave to Me: Another Vendor Pitching IIoTWow. It’s been quite a year for Industry 4.0.

First and foremost, it seems that people started embracing that it isn’t about sensors. Sensors in and of themselves just really aren’t that interesting. At one event in Singapore, a colleague reported that the audience almost revolted when the talk of IoT came up. The audience was sick to death of the sensor chatter from vendors, as sensors alone largely don’t move any needles. This is telling us that the market is maturing.

People now embrace that we have to surface the dark data (untracked human data) in the factory, make sense of it, translate what it is telling us, and create approaches for making faster decisions. The actual sensor data, it turns out, is way less interesting than human data because machines today are just so reliable. If fact, machines are now 20x more reliable than they were in the '60s, according to VLSI Research Inc. We’ve gotten a lot of juice from that berry, but we are pretty much down to pulp at this point.

The real "there there" for sensor data is what it means for human action. If the machine can effectively “talk,” we can get humans to take action.

While we’re talking about humans, 2018 was a turning point for companies realizing that humans are very much still at the center of Industry 4.0. Despite the Boston Dynamics videos of robots doing parkour, sentient robots that can intelligently GSD aren’t coming to help (or take jobs) any time soon.

At a Fourth Industrial Revolution Community Meeting in November in preparation for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, the talk of humans was everywhere. There was wide consensus that we aren’t going extinct, but, rather, properly trained specimens are in very short supply and it looks like the education system isn’t rising to the occasion. In 2019, we are just going to have to take less meetings with sensor vendors, and instead figure out how we are going to train, upskill, manage, and gather insight from and for our 21st century humans.

Boss. You aren’t off to a great start. Let’s see what day two of Christmas looks like.