The term “social networked industry” is made up of two components. The first is networked industry and the second is the social network. A vision of factories without people often arises against the backdrop of a smart factory. In a social networked industry, however, the focus is on people. They interact with intelligent machines and new technologies. The term thus describes a networked and social working world that needs people and serves people.

People and technology are connected in a new way. The digital technologies used are intended to support people in a meaningful way and increase their productivity and satisfaction. Devices such as data glasses or tablets increasingly enable employees to interact with intelligent and networked machines. All technical developments are aligned with the latest findings in the sociology of work. Workplaces should be ergonomic. This starts with height-adjustable work desks, continues with digital assistants that serve cognitive ergonomics, and ends with exoskeletons that actively support the body during lifting, carrying and bending.

Concrete examples are predictive maintenance with the help of augmented reality glasses, the training of new picking employees through virtual reality real-game environments, the safe cooperation of employees with transport robots and autonomous drones, or assistance systems for production and warehouse employees.

The basis for a Social Networked Industry is the Internet of Things, which enables the linking of technology and thus the networking of industry. With the help of artificial intelligence, self-learning systems will then also emerge to assist humans. Social networks will increase transparency and collaboration efficiency. As a result, highly flexible hybrid services can be provided and new digital business models can emerge.

The Social Networked Industry is no counter-concept to the Silicon Economy – the Platform Economy of the future – but an essential component. It can be seen as a social network and as an organizational platform for people and technology. This simplifies information and metadata management, creates a framework for integrating technology, and enables transparent distribution of data and statuses.