Industry 4.0: Why your positioning is wrong

I recently read this description of a common writing faux pas while searching for examples of mixed metaphors: "In Garner's Modern American Usage, Bryan A. Garner offers this classic example of a mixed metaphor from a speech by Boyle Roche in the Irish Parliament: 'Mr. Speaker, I smell a rat. I see him floating in the air. But mark me, sir, I will nip him in the bud.'"

By Zafar Jamati, senior account executive at Stone Junction.

While this is a slightly amusing anecdote for aspiring writers on why mixed metaphors are bad, it made me think more widely about other terms in the manufacturing sector that have been used to death, so much so, that they've become clichéd. Phrases like Industry 4.0.

In Taiwan it's known as Productivity 4.0, in Korea it's called Manufacturing Industry Innovation 3.0, China calls it Made in China 2025 and France has L'usine du Future (which literally means factory of the future). The US has a variety of acronyms from AMP 2.0 to NNMI and SMLC, and Japan has Industry 4.1 and Society 5.0. I've also seen (and admittedly used) variants such as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and the Internet of Things, Services and People (IIoTSP).

If so many companies are using the same term to describe different ideas such as industrial automation, the Internet of Things, cyber physical systems and cloud computing, does that phrase still do the concept justice and, more importantly, how do you actually stand out from the crowd of other companies doing exactly the same thing?

Take the soft drinks market, for example. Back in the late nineties the market appeared to be saturated, with companies vying for space to mimic the success of big brands like Coca Cola. 

It wasn't until Innocent Drinks took a unique position by offering smoothies and fresh juices that this area of the market really opened up. As a testament to its success, Innocent is now over 90 per cent owned by Coca-Cola. 

The key is that Innocent didn't avoid the soft drinks market because it was overpopulated, instead it  created a unique position in a market where the existing wisdom said there were no positions left. 

In my experience of working in the technical PR sector, it seems that companies in the industrial market are trying to mimic the success of big brands like Siemens — the company that invented the concept of Industry 4.0 — but fail to make a mark because they simply copy someone else's position. 

This is why you should stop imitating another company's views on Industry 4.0 and create your own unique perspective - positioning your brand's competencies correctly and writing content that truly differentiates your offering from others. It might be cliched to give your position another name, like the ones I've listed above, but it can work very effectively. Read Accenture's reasoning behind the company's use of the phrase Industry X for instance.  

So, whether you choose to harness the power of existing concepts such as digitalisation or the convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) or create your own phrasing, saying something unique is much more powerful than simply using the latest and greatest cliché. Nip the smelt rat in the bud. 

Zafar Jamati

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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