A smart factory needs smart content needs smart workers

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Documation 2019, which took place in Paris last month for business information management specialists, devoted a section of its conference programme to Information 4.0 – essentially the information arm of Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 is an umbrella term for the use in manufacturing of latest technical innovations, such as AI, big data, the Internet of Things and more, to create ‘smart factories’. These help business to be more agile in responding to their customers.

The increased machine-machine and human-machine interactions of Industry 4.0 will require a corresponding upgrade in how information is supplied for different users and contexts (for example, customer/supplier software help being delivered in the right language).

In a pre-Documation post on how smart factories offer an opportunity for smart content, Nolwenn Kerzreho of Ixiasoft (and past Firehead interviewee) says: “Interconnected production units and connected devices create an opportunity for massive automation and will stress the need for smart content.”

She also suggests that “due to the prominence of semiconductors in this revolution, DITA has become the de facto standard for the new industry … making it the basis of smart content and the obvious choice for smart factories” Which is great news for industry-based technical communicators who are trying to position themselves for the digital workplaces of the future.

There are also other views on where the future of information might be going. For example, CJ Walker, Firehead’s founder has previously noted in a guest post for the Information 4.0 Consortium that their definition-in-progress is that Information 4.0 will be:

  • Molecular – no documents, just information molecules
  • Dynamic – continuously updated
  • Offered rather than delivered
  • Ubiquitous, online, searchable and findable
  • Spontaneous – triggered by contexts
  • Profiled automatically
    – how much of this is determined by machine and how much by human is in negotiation. [Are robots going to take your job? / Oct 2017]

We’ll be posting more on Info 4.0 trends and thinking here on the Firehead blog in the coming months. Helping our job candidates and readers skill up ready for Information 4.0 is a growing area of Firehead’s recruitment, consultancy and training offering. And we’ve listed some ways you can skill up in next section.

Resources – training for smart content and Info 4.0

For clients looking at in-house training, we offer a training programme for techcomm professionals in writing smart content. For example, we recently partnered with TWi in Cork, Ireland, to train their staff on how to write content from data for machines and humans. We are in the process of turning this training into a certificated course offered by the Information 4.0 Consortium. Please get in touch if this is something you might be interested in running at your workplace.

For technical communicators and other content professionals looking to get a head start in Information 4.0, check out the following resources and training courses offered by Firehead and its affiliates:

Writing for machines and humans
Get to grips with a new information delivery model for modern contexts – learn the core concepts for writing and designing information that will be machine processed and delivered to humans, in context.

Advanced technical communication – DITA fundamentals
This elearning training course will teach you about the principles of single-source authoring, using DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) as the XML technical writing standard.

Create templates for DITA in FrameMaker
A two-day introduction course designed for users of Adobe FrameMaker, who want to set up structured templates, tailored to business needs, to author and publish DITA content.

Information 4.0 – a techcomm primer
Read our three-part series on Information 4.0, written by Neil Perlin of Hyper/Word Services, an internationally-known consultancy in online help and mobile.

2019 conference calendar
Consider attending some relevant conferences, especially Info4.0 events such as Information Energy 2019, COMtecnical, Soap and Evolution of TC.

Image: (CC) Pixabay/geralt

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