Last month, I attended the World Economic Forum in Davos. This is the premier event for public-private cooperation, gathering leaders from some of the world’s largest companies and government officials from around the world.

The World Economic Forum selected Tulip as a Technology Pioneer, an important recognition given to startups whose innovation is having an important impact around the world.

As a technology pioneer, I was invited to participate in several Advanced Manufacturing panels to discuss everything from the future of work in manufacturing to how technology is re-shaping the industry.

Below, I share the top takeaways from the sessions I participated in. If you’d like to learn more about our work in the space with McKinsey, Accenture, and A.T.Kearney, read this World Economic Forum whitepaper we collaborated on.

Technology-driven innovations are democratizing the shop floor

In the past, only the largest companies could afford to adopt advanced manufacturing technologies. However, as we wrote in the World Economic Forum’s whitepaper “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Beacons of technology and innovation in manufacturing”, thanks to new technologies like manufacturing app platforms, SMBs can now reap the benefits of Industry 4.0 as well. This is critical because SMBs are the backbone of manufacturing. At Tulip, even though we have several Fortune 500 companies as customers, we also see how SMBs are using manufacturing apps to drive their digital transformation from the bottom-up.

Tulip Diagram in the Shop Floor

Advanced manufacturing is not about digitizing the past

This is a common mistake we see at Tulip. When our customers start using our platform, they have the tendency to replicate their old processes. Instead, we challenge them to re-think their entire operation in light of the new technologies available for them. For example, rather than turn work instructions into digital versions of the analog paper-based work instructions, we challenge them to re-think the process for the digital medium.

New technologies will not put people out of jobs

A common worry among politicians and the public is that technology will put people out of jobs. My view has always been that rather than displace workers, technology will redefine what it means to work in manufacturing, just like it did in previous industrial revolutions. I was happy to see that this is now the consensus among governments and manufacturers alike, who understand that the policy focus should shift to the upskilling and re-skilling of the manufacturing workforce.

Start-ups are playing a key role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

All participants at the World Economic Forum, from manufacturers to government officials to academics, agree that startups are playing a key role triggering and enabling the ongoing transformations through technology development, innovation, agility, and flexibility. For all of us at Tulip, this is yet another validation of all our hard work.

After spending a week with some of the most influential manufacturing leaders and hearing the challenges their organizations are facing, I’m more convinced than ever of the importance of what we’re building at Tulip.

I looking forward to continuing collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Future of Manufacturing partners, as well as continuing to build a platform that is ‘arming the rebels’ on their shop floor with the tools they need to transform their operation.