Skip to main content

Industry 4.0 eLearning platform

This idea is a part of The Future of Nordic Manufacturing

July 28, 2017

"Please see attached documents:
- Presentation of idea and solution
- Visuals on the solution (frontpage, course outline, dashboard)

1. Define the assignment
This challenge idea submission is aiming at building bridges and create a solution between the private and the public sector in order to enhance the knowledge and skills of the public business consultants in the Nordic region. The idea is build on partnership principles that has existing throughout decades and is known as Public-Private Partnership (PPP). In the proposed partnership academia also play a crucial role (Some define this as PPA partnerships due to the academia aspect. In this submission I will use PPP).
The solution proposed in this submission has a targeted angle which is aimed at creating value in an industry 4.0 era to support public business consultants to better advise manufacturing companies on how to meet the challenges and opportunities that the industry faces now and in the future. The solution consists of online and offline elements, however it is focused around an eLearning platform that brings value to the public consultants as well as manufacturing companies in the Nordics.

2. Idea & Solution
The final product of the idea is an eLearning platform offering public business consultants the ability to earn certifications within certain specialization areas of industry 4.0. These idea is that eventually these certifications will become a standard for the public business consultants as it will serve as a proof of expertise towards the private manufacturing sector, showing that the consultants have background knowledge and a toolbox to support the manufacturers in the transition towards implementing industry 4.0 strategy and initiatives.

2.1 So how does it work?
There are a few steps towards making this eLearning platform. (1) Building the foundation and structures of the courses, (2) Making a steering committee and (3) Creating content (4) Advertise and promote towards public business consultants and manufacturers.

2.1.1 Building the foundation
Industry 4.0 is a hot topic for manufactures across the world and multiple industry analyses and reports have been conducted by all the larger management consultant groups across the world, which indicate a strong interest and belief in the changes that are happening in the industry. Therefore, this solution builds upon fundamental frameworks that have been developed by McKinsey and by PwC. The elements of the principles that are being used are repeated across most of the reports available and therefore serve the purpose of being applied to an eLearning platform.
McKinsey has created a framework that they call the digital compass which is build to help companies find the right tools to match their needs. They have identified 8 main areas and 26 practical Industry 4.0 levers which are the main areas/building blocks of the online courses offered on the eLearning platform proposed. This means that public consultants can become certified within the following 8 expertise areas:

(1) Resource / Process
(2) Assets Utilization
(3) Labor
(4) Inventories
(5) Quality
(6) Supply / Demand match
(7) Time to Market
(8) Service / Aftersales

Each expertise area has specific levers that contains compulsory specialization courses to complete in order to earn the full certification of each area. These levers are illustrated further in the attached presentation.

In order to understand how, as well as to what extend, the eLearning platform can support the public business consultants it is decided that the outcome (meaning the toolbox and skills that the consultants achieve within the certifications) are limited to the first three steps of the framework from formed by PwC: “Blueprint for digital success”. It will work as a reference guide to the course creators as well as build confidence in the business consultants expectations towards what extend their newly acquired knowledge and skills are expected to be applied.

In the attached presentation all six steps are illustrated however, the relevant steps and abilities for this solution are these three:
(1) Map out the company’s industry 4.0 strategy
(2) Create initial pilot project(s)
(3) Define the capabilities the company need

2.1.2 Making a steering committee
As proposed in section 1, the solution is based on the PPP principles which means that a steering committee (could be as a consortium) is formed by, but not limited to, stakeholders from the private manufacturing industry, key stakeholder representing the Public consultants (e.g. Væksthuse, Teknologisk institut etc) and representative/researchers from Academia (e.g. CBS and DTU)*. This committee is responsible for developing the course material based on the above mentioned two frameworks.

2.1.3 Creating educational content
The academic partnership will have the capabilities and knowledge to map what has already been researched and published within industry 4.0 as a research area, and they have capabilities of developing the educational framework needed for the courses and the exams. Companies and the public consultants can provide the data required for the application of theories which eventually should provide the steering committee with sufficient data to build relevant syllabus and course content. I would suggest that the steering committee has substantial resources (in monetary terms) to invest in people and research material as well as resources to build professional educational content through a production agency. As mentioned above, all the material developed should be formed within the proposed framework by McKinsey, meaning within the 8 expertise area and their combined 26 specialization levers.

2.1.4 Advertise and promote towards public business consultants and manufacturers.
It would be advised that the content is created fully and comprehensively in one expertise area before developing and launching content for the next area. Once one expertise area, say Labor, is fully developed and the certifications and course content are ready developed then this expertise area will be launched for a pilot group of public business consultants to stress test the quality.
Thereafter new certifications can be launched on a continual basis dependent on the pace of developing the course material. One feature to the solution is continuous learning/education. When a certain expertise area gets more advanced there can be added additional courses to the certifications already acquired.

It will be important that this eLearning platform will be promoted and therefore it is suggested that it either becomes a standard and therefore mandatory training for the public business consultants or that there will be developed a sales pipeline and hosted various events to promote the solution. Both for companies (in order to boost the demand for public consultants and their newly acquired knowledge) and for public business consultants.

*These are danish examples of stakeholders and are only examples given my lack of knowledge of public institutions in the other markets.

3. Why the idea is relevant and effective.
In all industries most growth companies continuously make sure that their employees are being trained to further develop their skills and making sure they understand how their industry develops. As a result of this we have seen that companies offer employees to study MBA’s and the ability to acquire professional certifications that will enhance their skills. Therefore, permanent training and continuing training is not something new, and it is on the agenda for most companies. This is no different for the public consultants. They will need to continue training in order to upgrade their toolbox and add value to the Nordic manufacturing companies.

Due to technological development, and the acceptance of its nature, more courses and educations are now being offered online. Some well known providers of online courses are:

Looking at eLearning as a concept in itself and its development, it has already proven itself as a standard and is widely being adopted by private individuals as well as companies. It has been said that these platforms are the future of learning as they are agile and courses can be resold and scaled.

4. An example of where the idea has been implemented with success is an eLearning platform that has been identified as being close to what this solution is offering due to the nature of its industry-specific focus, which is solicitors. is a danish owned company that offer continuing training to solicitors. Knowing, however, that it’s an analogous market the mechanics and the value add is similar to the proposed solution. has proven to add value to companies by making relevant courses available to their clients. From a client perspective eLearning is effective in terms of time invested, flexibility and outcome. It has proven to be more economical for companies due to the scalability aspect of the courses.

5. How the solution can be implemented
Section 2 gives a good idea on how the solution should be implemented as it will be formed by a few steps. The implementation comes with a suggested timescale which is not only realistic but also advisable as the implementation has to be done sequentially in order to adapt to feedback and learnings accordingly.

As introduced above in section 2, the implementation will consist of four elements:
(1) Building the foundation and structures of the courses
(2) Making a steering committee
(3) Creating content
(4) Promoting and educating public business consultants.

Another element that needs to run simultaneously is the development of the platform. The development of the eLearn platform can either be a bespoke solution or it can be a licensed solution such as (disclaimer: I have no commercial interest in and it’s platform).

Assuming that the steering committee is established the following implementation timeline could look like this:
1) 6-12 months of developing course content (material can be launched on a continual basis dependent on the pace of developing the course material).
2) 3-6 months of developing the platform (web, ios, android).
3) 3 months of building sales pipeline, event calendar and sales funnel for the courses.

6. The expected outcomes of your idea/solution for all key stakeholders
The expected outcomes and success criteria varies dependent on what stakeholder to consider as there are multiple. However, the overall outcome with this eLearn concept is to create and share valuable knowledge as well as creating transparency in the offering of the public business consultant market. The certifications within each of the 8 expertise areas will allow companies to know that consultants have the background knowledge to support their business in the transition towards industry 4.0. This will give comfort to all parties involved.
The governments in the Nordic region can with this investment hedge the risk of manufacturing companies either outsource or offshore production facilities and keep employment in the country which eventually results in reduced risk of potential higher unemployment, secure corporate tax income and help ta more attractive place to grow your company.

Academia will benefit in various ways too. They will gain access to newly acquired data in a growing research area that will support them in future publications. They will be able to sell their knowledge and service as educational purposes through the eLearn platform and potentially facilitate workshops online as well as offline.

8. Conclusion
Throughout the idea description I have shown that based on previous learnings and analogous markets this idea can deliver the promised value of upgrading the skills and competences of public business consultants in all Nordic countries through an industry 4.0 specific eLearning platform that offer certifications within 8 expertise areas rooted in practical frameworks proposed by McKinsey and PwC.

The solution is an innovative concept that creates transparency in the public consultant market. The base principles of certifying public business consultants through the eLearning platform can be replicated to other industries and is therefore not only limited to the manufacturing industry. Execution through a PPP-developed platform that offer learning material online is innovative and different from what has been offered before.