Why Digital is Not Enough: Finding Value with Quality 4.0

Andre Mendes de Carvalho (Guest lecturer)

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


Digital is not new. In fact, digital technologies have been around for decades. The original “Digital Revolution” ranged from the late 1950s to the late 1970s, and was marked by the shift from mechanical and analog to digital electronics technologies. This revolution created the world we know today, with computers, digital records, and information and communication technologies. Since then, several analog technologies have been replaced by digital solutions, and an increasing number of products offer, at the very least, a digital dimension.

This move towards digital had a deep impact on our societies. Businesses adapted to this digital era. Most organizations now deal with operations that are deeply connected and integrated and have digital tools and interfaces deployed along with their processes. Competitive advantage is sought via technological disruption, and products and services alike are integrating digital dimensions.

Given that this transformation has been driven by technological advancements, it is no surprise that most of what we discuss about “Industry 4.0” or the “Digital Transformation” is centered on technology. Corporate and governmental reports on these topics are most often focused on such aspects as technology deployment, technological readiness, and innovation. At the same time, scientific research on the topic shows that there is a limited understanding of the overall impact of technology in the management of Quality in Industry 4.0. As such, there is no discussion on metrics to allow the assessment of change strategies, no integrated view on what indicators to follow up and improve performance, and no systems perspective to look at the impact of this technological revolution in the value chain of an organization. In short, there is often no clear alignment between Quality and the digitalization process.

Many of these issues, are, however, being discussed by a number of Quality experts, framed under the greater debate around Quality 4.0. The approach promoted by Quality practitioners and researchers has varied. Some have looked at the opportunities and challenges for Quality in different organizational areas, including strategic alignment, supply chain integration, or the combined monitoring of process and product information. Others have focused on the role of “traditional” Quality methodologies in this new era, looking at the fit between existing Quality tools and methods and the new industrial paradigm.

Independently of the approach, Quality 4.0 is clearly focused on delivering value in the context of the digital transformation. A perspective that seems to be missing in other fields where the focus is most often on technical and technological innovation. However, it is important to understand how these different approaches can be integrated to create one common mindset on how Quality 4.0 can deliver value to organizations undergoing the digital transformation.

Every Quality practitioner has critical importance in identifying and delivering this value. However, it is essential to make this discussion broader and wider, involving more and more of the Quality community. The lack of a Quality perspective in many of the efforts around the “digital transformation” leads to a scenario where new production trends are designed from a technical point of view, but little sustained in terms of monitoring and sustaining value in the long-term. The Quality community is used to searching for value in an organization. In the current age, it is essential that it learns to identify this value in the technologies, processes, and strategies adopted in the scope of Industry 4.0.
Period29 Sep 2020
Event titleQuality 4.0 Summit 2020: American Society For Quality
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational