When do companies start thinking they have to change? The answer is simple, it usually starts when competition is high, businesses need to innovate quickly to guarantee they keep ahead of the pack and still deliver perceived value to the customers. In these cases, people at many levels of the organization start to notice things have to change, defy the status quo and new ideas can come up.
Organizations that insist on not recognizing that their main asset, people, are changing, will have a hard time reviewing their processes and recognizing the great potential brought by new technologies, as digital transformation should be a human-centric initiative.
Digital transformation, and the technologies that support it, are already at an interesting stage of maturity to become the solutions of the present. It is time to trust their abilities and go forward on their implementation.
To build a successful digital transformation roadmap, it is imperative to analyze and take into consideration the current status of the process, set an objective and, from there, build a journey, which should be incremental and never neglect the famous financial ratios. In a more detailed explanation, it is a good practice to start in a specific area, implement and analyze the outcomes, so that it can become a use case within the company or the industry and be a trigger for innovation in other departments.
A final topic to be attentive to: the spotlights are always placed on initiatives that can be disruptive, but that should be seen as an opportunity to generate a positive impact on the skeptics. Nevertheless, a failure can always lead to discredit and is therefore important to respect the several stages: involving all the stakeholders (from operators to Board members), assessing the technological solutions and partners, according to a specific set of criteria, and finally guaranteeing a correct implementation.
Covid-19 as driving force for Digital Transformation
The pandemic is working as a driving force, that helps companies to find their fragilities during uncertain times, thus perceiving the value of having in place the most recent technologies to help them take better and more informed decisions regarding their operations. According to the 2021 Global Digital Trust Insights study from PwC, 40% of the CEOs state that the organizations they manage have accelerated the digital transformation initiative right from the first three months of the pandemic state.
The adoption was accelerated for quick-win solutions that help companies respond and adapt to the new norms (such as tracking employee health, enforcing safe distancing on the shop floor, and supporting remote collaboration). Digital work instructions, augmented reality–based operator assistance, and use-cases relying on simple, inexpensive retrofit automation may also become more widespread regardless of companies’ existing technology infrastructure.
The pandemic experience has put the spotlight back on supply chain adjustments, given how many countries were forced to announce lockdowns, with limited time to procure the supply of essential goods. Therefore, it is believed that companies and governments will increasingly consider moving some production closer to home or to their customers after the crisis. This represents a paradigm shift in manufacturing and can also have a positive impact on the sustainability of their operations.
This is one of the main reasons the next European program (Horizon Europe) has set as one of the main targets, to re-industrialize Europe, and obviously, to be able to compete in the market. This new wave of Manufacturing plans will need to rely on 4.0 technologies and I4.0 and apply their own concept of Smart Factory, in order to become agile, efficient and cost effective.
Note: This article is an extract from the whitepaper ‘The Industrial Race to Modernization’ that traces a comprehensive and insightful overview over Digital Transformation and the Industry 4.0. Download and read the full document here for all valuable insights.
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Duarte arrived at Affinity with the challenge of supporting Digital Transformation processes. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering, but it is in the business and IT areas that he truly feels accomplished! Interested in innovation, new technologies and other sources of knowledge, Duarte also enjoys a good timeout to practice his favorite sport - Basketball!