Some Thoughts on Digital Transformation
by Vincent Dubois, CEO
We can all agree that COVID has deeply impacted our lives and exacerbated the necessity for digital transformation. Without tools that enable people to stay connected and collaborate – e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex and the like – many businesses would have completely shut down. Most of us started overnight commuting from our homes to our homes every morning and evening instead of going to the office.
It is no different in the manufacturing world: agility and automation are becoming critical due to the disruption of the supply chain, rapid changes in demand for certain products, changes in geographic location where products need to be manufactured and shortage of personnel, just to name a few factors.
In a recent interview from Philip Stoten, I heard him quote an interesting statistic coming from more than 200 manufacturers he surveyed: 87% of them said that digital transformation of manufacturing is their highest priority, but only 14% said they believe it is properly funded.
This statistic shows the importance of digital transformation, but also that it should be viewed as a journey and companies should be pragmatic about it. Yes, the dream is to manufacture in lots of 1 unit, but you don’t have to get there tomorrow. You can spread your investment over time by taking a step-by-step approach, making sure you reach the right destination. As with any project, agility can serve you well, taking one step at a time and readjusting as required.
If you decide to take that journey, here are a few things you should consider:
- Start with the obvious: connectivity. Similar to what you do for getting people to collaborate, that is starting with the tools that connect people together – the Zoom and Teams of this world, you need to connect your machines together and get the data in a useable format.
- Focus on applications that bring the most value to your customers and your business. It can be based on ROI, necessity to keep or win a contract or simply necessity to stay in business.
- Realign after each step, measure the impact of the step you just took and prepare for the next one.
Another option that should be looked at, especially if the projects are not well funded, is the availability of connectivity or applications that are paid as a service, spreading cash flows over the years of usage and reconciling expenses with the benefits. Taking baby-steps will also reduce the implementation time and cost of these applications, helping to reap their benefits sooner.
Don’t hesitate to reach out if you wish to discuss your digital transformation challenges or simply share your point of view by contacting us directly.