Digital transformation is sweeping the global manufacturing industry, and in a highly competitive industry – there’s a lot at stake.
Research by Forrester Consulting reveals that the majority (90%) of manufacturing leaders believe that embracing smart technology is essential for their success – or even their survival. By 2025, it’s predicted that global spend on digital transformation will exceed $816 billion.
But for companies considering embarking on digital transformation projects, the task ahead is both complex and daunting. Having an exhaustive, expertly produced and watertight strategy is everything.
One of the key challenges is how to achieve digital transformation at scale. There’s never just one factory and its equipment and processes to upgrade – there’s a whole network. In order to successfully upgrade to ‘Internet 4.0’, manufacturers must tackle multiple, complex and rapidly shifting challenges across the whole of their operations, and do so in the right order.
A recent article in the Manufacturer lays out a roadmap for digital transformation, but first describes the many difficult obstacles firms must overcome:
“Even top-tier manufacturers have a hard time catching up with new technologies. The strategy consulting process is slow, expensive, repetitive, and resource intense. The manufacturing industry is siloed with limited knowledge sharing. The vendors’ ecosystem of Industry 4.0 is highly fragmented, and solutions are hard to find.”
A roadmap for digital transformation in manufacturing
The journey to digital transformation is a long and winding one, requiring a strategy tailored to the specific needs of the business. But there are certain essentials that manufacturers should start thinking about at this early stage. These include the following:
- Undertake a digital maturity assessment and a loss analysis. This step is crucial for identifying the value creation opportunities within your specific business, and where it stands within the industry as a whole.
- Define the necessary interventions to directly drive value, both on an organisational and technological scale. This stage also involves broadly laying out the sequence of steps that will successfully drive the organisation’s digital transformation.
- Develop a full business case for digital transformation, including a detailed cost-benefit analysis for each step of the strategy.
- Add detail to the roadmap and business case, including key figures and data.
So, what’s next? Here’s some insight from The Manufacturer:
“Once the plant-level strategy has been defined, manufacturers can proceed to create an enterprise strategy, to enable the platformisation and integration of applicable technologies with a seamless data architecture that will amplify value generation.
“Once the enterprise-level strategy is in place, manufacturers need to consider the best enterprise-wide plant expansion strategy by planning various scenarios driven by financial performance as well as technology applicability to rapidly enable scalable value.
“To enable successful digital transformation strategies manufacturers need a standard and platformised, easy-to-use framework, that creates a common language across the organization’s functions and decision makers and enables pursuing and scaling value.”
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