Digitization is on everyone’s doorstep and above all does one thing: it produces many collective terms or buzzwords. These often have one thing in common, namely the ending 4.0. I have been asked many times lately what this 4.0 actually means and whether there is a 3.0, because I also use many terms in the blog with the ending 4.0 in the blog such as.

I have explained all these terms individually and I do not want to go into them any further. However, I would like to examine the ending 4.0 times and give an attempt at explanation.

What does 4.0 – an attempt at explanation

The viernull-Magazin.de says: “Web 2.0” seems to be the original mother of all “x.0 combinations”. This is especially true for trends related to the Internet. So we’ve been using such endings for a very long time. According to Industry 4.0, it is quite easy to explain, according to viernull-magazin.de magazine: “Industry 4.0” stands for the “fourth Industrial Revolution”. Before that, there must have been three other revolutions – this is at least suggested by the creators of the term: “Industry 1.0” means the era of mechanics, which began in the 18th century, “Industry 2.0” refers to the era of electronics (20th century) and “Industry 3.0” stands for the increasing automation of industry through the use of office IT since the 1970s.

It’s a little more complicated at work 4.0. Here I found a definition of Robert Freund:

  • Work 1.0 refers to the incipient industrial society and the first organizations of workers.
  • Work 2.0 is the beginning of mass production and the beginnings of the welfare state at the end of the 19th century.
  • Work 3.0 covers the period of consolidation of the welfare state and workers’ rights on the basis of the social market economy.
  • Work 4.0 will be more connected, digital and flexible. What the future world of work will look like in detail remains to be seen. Since the beginning of the 21st century, we have been faced with a new fundamental change in the way of production.

I also tried to define Consulting 4.0 in my article and did not find a definition. In many terms, there is often no 3.0 or 2.0, but 4.0 often simply means the “digitalization of something” in this context. So Consulting 4.0 could simply mean: We digitize consulting and call it 4.0.

What does 4.0 mean – Conclusion

In my conclusion, it is not always useful to look for 3.0 or 2.0 or 1.0 for every ending 4.0, as this often does not always exist formally. However, I would like to use Work 4.0 and Industry 4.0 to make a kind of guideline on how terms can be classified with the ending 4.0.

The table shows that 1.0 is often simply the addition of typical devices. For example, the scissors for the hairdresser or consulting 1.0 could be the typical Face 2 Face advice. In 2.0, the work is then supported by technology such as a dictation device to record customer calls or electronic shavers for the hairdresser. In 3.0, they are supported by IT such as iPads or PC’s as well as software such as Excel. 4.0 then means the basic ability of devices to automate tasks and even interact intelligently, such as chess computers or chatbots in customer support.

Of course, It is clear to me that this definition does not apply to all terms, so e.g. Web 2.0 is probably not compatible with this definition but work, industry and consulting 4.0 and certainly also many other terms such as maybe administration 4.0 or the company 4.0 as well as the house 4.0. You can probably attach the ending to pretty much any noun. However, I hope to be able to give a first directive with this attempt at explanation.

Phase Metaphor Declaration
1.0 Mechanics Often an item or service without technology, such as a direct conversation with a broker or a carriage
2.0 Electronics Often the extension of the objects by electronics such as mixer sift or the first car or a hairdresser uses an electric shaver
3.0 It Equipment with IT such as iPad or software for the insurance broker or a PC at the workplace
4.0 Intelligence / Automation Digitization and support with intelligent technology such as Puppet for configuring servers or automatic monitoring systems as well as intelligent services such as chatbots.
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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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