2019/09 LEM Working Paper Series

The Enabling Technologies of Industry 4.0: Examining the Seeds of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Arianna Martinelli, Andrea Mina and Massimo Moggi
Industry 4.0; technological paradigm; enabling technology; digitalization; general purpose technology; disruptive innovation.

  JEL Classifications
O33, O31, L01
Technological revolutions mark profound transformations in socio-economic systems. They are associated with the development and diffusion of general purpose technologies that display very high degrees of pervasiveness, dynamism and complementarity. This paper provides an in-depth examination of the technologies underpinning the 'factory of the future' as profiled by the Industry 4.0 paradigm. It contains an exploratory comparative analysis of the technological bases and the emergent patterns of development of Internet of Things (IoT), big data, cloud, robotics, artificial intelligence and additive manufacturing. We qualify the 'enabling' nature of these technologies. We then test whether, taken together and individually, they display the characteristics of generality, originality and longevity associated with general purpose technologies. Finally, we discuss key themes for future research on this topic from an industrial structural change perspective.
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