Digital transformation is a buzzword in the manufacturing industry for a reason. Companies embracing digital technologies are more likely to stay ahead of the curve, differentiate themselves in the marketplace, and meet the evolving needs of their customers. Learn how to start your digital transformation voyage and why companies should answer the call.
What is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation describes the evolution of an organization’s business model and operations using digital technologies. Common strategic goals we see manufacturing achieve with digital transformation are:
- Improved customer experience
- Increased efficiency and productivity
- A competitive advantage
- Cost savings
- Increased Quality and Innovation
Getting on Board
Begin your journey by understanding who the relevant stakeholders are and what they want. Multiple groups may need convincing. For example:
- The board wants to see results from their investment in IT infrastructure. They’ll likely be interested in metrics such as ROI and cost savings.
- Executives want quick wins to help them achieve their goals, but they also need proof that this new approach will work before they can commit time and resources to implement it throughout the enterprise.
- Employees want to be shown tangible tools that reassure them any changes will benefit them instead of harming their position.
Success requires commitment and collaboration from everyone involved – from the C-suite to every level of the organization. It must be an ongoing effort rather than a one-time project or initiative.
The Right Technology
The next step is to choose the right technology. Companies want to consider aspects such as:
- Software- What are your current needs? How will they change over time? Will you need additional features or functionality?
- Hardware- Do you have enough computing power and storage space for all your data, or does it need to be scaled up or down depending on usage patterns at different times of day/year/etc.? Do you have sensors to track data that you need for production insight?
- Tools- What tools do developers use to build applications on top of platforms (e.g., Creo vs. Solidworks)? How easy is integrating custom code with legacy systems like databases and messaging queues? Are there any security issues? If so, will they be mitigated by using another tool instead (e.g., switching from MySQL database server software to Microsoft Azure)?
Developing and Implementing a Digital Transformation Strategy
Next is to define the project scope, objectives, and the metrics you will use to evaluate success. Create an action plan with timelines and resource requirements for each phase.
Once the plan is final, track progress regularly by reviewing dashboards or reports generated from data collected during testing phases of development projects (if applicable). Note: It’s valuable for managers and end users to have visibility.
Monitoring and Evaluating Performance
Monitoring and measuring performance allows you to identify where there is success or areas of improvement. Monitoring requires a variety of tools, including:
- Data Analytics Dashboards (e.g., Thingworx Analytics)
- Real-time Data Share (e.g., Windchill, EAC Productivity Apps)
- Digital Twin Performance (e.g., Augmented Reality)
Adapting and Adjusting the Plan
Business is complex, and the market will require adjustments to your strategy, such as responding to new products or industry developments. Goals will change too. For example, there may be an increased demand for specific services. The best way to adjust the course is by regularly reviewing changes as a team. Companies must be agile in their processes.
Digital transformation is the process modern companies require to achieve complex business goals. It is not about buying all the latest technologies or hopping on every trend, but changing how you work and think as a connected enterprise.
A successful digital transformation journey begins with the same foundational steps. Companies must create a plan, build a team, adopt the right technology, develop a strategy, implement and monitor it, and then continually adapt and adjust.
Starting a digital transformation journey is complex and challenging. Helping manufacturers define their starting point and navigate to where their organization wants to be is why EAC created EAC Assessments. By analyzing internal capabilities and identifying areas for improvement, EAC partners with customers to develop a Digital Transformation Roadmap tailored to their specific goals.
If your organization seeks to identify gaps in capabilities, streamline processes, and develop new products and services that better meet your customer's needs, EAC Assessments and services may be the answer. By embracing digital transformation and leveraging the expertise of EAC, you can position your company for success in the digital age.