There’s a lot to be said for the power of perseverance in business. This past year has brought a previously unimaginable set of challenges to manufacturing that have tested the sector’s resolve and its capacity to find creative solutions to common problems.
From a Rockwell Automation perspective, we’ve observed how different companies have reacted over the course of many turbulent months. There was evidently no singular ‘COVID-19’ experience; different companies were at different levels of readiness in terms of how quickly they were able to respond to emerging challenges. For some, the business demands associated with the series of lockdowns has prompted senior leadership to accelerate digitalisation plans, taking massive strides in their transformation roadmap.
For others, it was a wake-up call that, if their business didn’t change now, it would be forced to play catch-up in future as the landscape rapidly shifts.
Digital Transformation in Real-Time
When the first COVID-19 spike hit in early-2020, organisations in every sector had very little time to make sense of the situation and build a coherent plan. At Rockwell Automation, we shared the sense of collective uncertainty, but were quick to realise the severity of the virus and the rules that we applied to our organisation were stricter than the government directives at local levels.
Among our customer base, we were encouraged by how quickly executive teams were prepared to ask us for support in order to get on the front-foot and tackle their challenges proactively. On one extreme, our customers in industries such as Oil & Gas were seeking to improve efficiency to react to sudden fluctuations in demand or, in the case of our OEM customers, restrictions on regular operations such as field visits to their customers. On the other, we found manufacturers in critical industries such as Life Sciences and CPG were looking to rapidly adapt to growing and unanticipated demand in the market, combined with the threat of supply chain issues.
The experiences and challenges have offered some valuable insight into where leaders are placing their priorities as they look to the future and seek to embrace automation in order to strengthen their operations.
5 Priorities for a Digital Future
Since March 2020, cyber-attacks have increased tremendously. The pharmaceutical industry, for example, experienced a 50% rise in attacks last year compared with 2019. This included a high profile data breach targeting several companies working on COVID-19 treatments, due to the sensitive nature of the IP contained in the stolen documents. Even within our organisation, we’ve experienced more than double the number of cyber-attacks than pre-COVID-19 levels. Our customers are experiencing huge challenges in how to keep systems running, protect their intellectual property and help staff, now often working remotely, to remain secure.