The emerging trends of service innovation for smart industry, traceability across the value chain, and the Internet of Things are the focus of a new trend report for the EU’s Business Innovation Observatory, co-authored by Dr. René Wintjes.
There is one common factor in these emerging trends: how innovations are helping to grow smart value chains. Disruptive solutions are improving output and productivity, saving time and money, while cutting time-to-market and respecting the environment — but they also raise concerns. This fourth trend report addresses key issues from the case studies, namely constant body monitoring, human-robot collaboration, and driverless cars. These are three of the most disruptive innovations likely to change our lives in the future, say the authors.
- Constant body monitoring: The human body is becoming a digitally-connected part of the value chain in the health sector. The emergence of new wearable devices offers new monitoring capabilities but also poses new policy challenges, particularly related to data accessibility, privacy and security.
- Human-robot collaboration: A new generation of collaborative robots (or ‘co-bots’), designed for direct interaction with humans within a defined setting, is entering the market. As co-bots are flexible and predestined for small-scale, adaptable production, they have the potential to positively impact the competitiveness of European manufacturing SMEs across many industries.
- Driverless cars: At the crossroads of human-robot collaboration and the ‘Internet of Things’, the entry of autonomous cars onto the market will require clear regulatory frameworks, the adoption of new technologies and investments in the infrastructures needed to deploy them.
These disruptive innovations pose new policy challenges that need to be dealt with in terms of data security, technology standards, and skills gaps. In sum:
- Data security and data privacy: Effective policies concerning data protection can play a crucial role in the development of smart value chains around new technologies; they create security and certainty that facilitate cooperation.
- Technology standards: Standardisation can play an effective role in the development of new markets by focusing demand on specific technical solutions while helping to reach a critical mass. Standards also enable interoperability, reduce risks and transaction costs for users, and remove technical barriers to trade.
- Skills gaps and qualification mismatches: The lack of ICT skills in the workforce is hindering the development of a digital single market and society; it remains a barrier to innovation across the European economy.
European Commission / Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs; Flickr / C.Davis2010