In association with

How design thinking and service design will change business

Content Automation – The Future Is Now 

The Hidden Potential of Structured Content 

From structured content to Intelligent Information

Design Thinking Workshop 

Information 4.0 - The Next Steps


A concept, written by Ray Gallon and Andy McDonald

Industry 4.0 seems to have a lot to do with the Internet of Things (IoT), but it’s a lot more than objects determining that the milk in your refrigerator is going bad. It’s a complex network of networks, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), in which objects take autonomous decisions that affect us directly in a host of ways.

In Industry 4.0, information transparency is a requirement. Industry 4.0 information systems will create a virtual copy of the physical world by enriching digital plant models with sensor data. This requires the aggregation of raw sensor data to higher-value context information.The way we see it, information will be one of the most important products of Industry 4.0. 

What Is Information 4.0?

Information 4.0 is defined as the informational component of Industry 4.0, with the following characteristics:

Molecular – no documents, just information molecules
Dynamic – continuously updated
Offered rather than delivered
Ubiquitous – online, searchable and findable
Spontaneous – triggered by contexts
Profiled automatically

The key to understanding what this means is the notion of molecular information. It defines a fundamental autonomous block of information with one purpose, one notion or idea and in response to one state vector. The state vector is defined by Intel as a collection of context states - Information describing the user's current context that must be collected and used quickly, because it is rapidly changing and evolving. The state vector, then, is a snapshot of a user's context.

Information molecules are self-sufficient. They are capable of being assembled into compounds that have a level of stability in response to a particular state vector. Stability does not mean static. In response to a spontaneous context, a compound can be volatile. So, compounds are an assembly of molecules in response to a context. The relationship or the bond between molecules in a compound is the key to understanding how we will need to design information in the future. This relationship is determined by a state vector and established spontaneously. The syntax of this relationship is one of the areas that we will need to work on.

In our track on Information 4.0 at Information Energy 2017, several immediate next steps have to be dealt with, including:

  • What does it mean to offer rather than deliver, and how do we physically do that?
  • What does validity mean?
  • In what ways does our own information business need to change?
  • Who will ensure governance and responsibility?


Continuous Update and Offer

Molecular information is useful because its small size makes it easy to update and push out quickly. However, the entire autonomous process of offering rather than delivering needs to be defined as a mechanism that multiple suppliers can adhere to easily.

Transforming the notion of validity

Today, we talk about validating information, but such "validity" might be very ephemeral, or change when the context changes.

Change for Information Professionals

As information professionals, our main challenge today is to develop new tools, new methods, and best practices to ensure that we give our users information that supports their needs in a satisfying user journey, by offering different compounds related to a context, and letting the user choose what s/he needs at the moment.

Responsibility – put the human back in AI?

In an environment where much information passes between machines without our knowledge or intervention, and volatile information in volatile contexts will be produced by humans and machines alike, we must face important questions of responsibility - legal, ethical, and moral. How will governance and responsibility be enacted and by whom? What does governance mean for information that is not human readable?

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