‘Start small’ has become a worn cliché in discussions around transformation, but it does point to an important truth: there is no singular ‘transformation’, but a series of changes and initiatives that contribute to advancing the company’s capabilities. The most pragmatic approach, therefore, is to identify a known business problem and apply the technology to it to see some immediate returns. Based on the outcomes and learnings, you can then seek to create a template that can be replicated across business lines and production sites. This will help ensure consistency and create efficiency gains, enabling a positive feedback loop to build from each small step in the transformation journey.
3. Business Impact
As impressive as the technologies are in themselves, it’s important to look at them through the lens of their potential business impact – do they facilitate productive environments? In practice, it’s not technical features that generate results; it’s about proving their value within a business context. It’s therefore imperative that you define the business value of your technology spend ahead of deployment. Considerations around whether the investment is going to save money for the business, improve outcomes for staff and help build libraries of resources that will produce ongoing value are critical components in building a compelling case for change.
The future of business mandates greater collaboration with a range of partners that help engender a prospering culture of innovation, such as with research partners and service providers. Ask yourself: Does our technology platform support this ecosystem? How can we architect it so that integration and collaboration is both simple and secure? Think at multiple technical layers, from the use of AR to share knowledge and expertise, down to the use of cloud services to support the massive data demands of machine learning and predictive modelling.
The adoption of new technologies and platforms should be part of a gradual process of change. Rip and replace isn’t a viable strategy for many manufacturers that have invested heavily in equipment with long lifespans. Being able to adopt state-of-the-art technologies now that wrap around, and even support, your core IT and operational technology (OT) systems will allow you to gain access to innovation while making longer-term plans for the upgrading of your legacy equipment.