A recent Gartner survey (reference below) identified “Digital Initiatives” because the top CIO priority for 2019, tied with Revenue Growth and before other items including Operational Excellence, Customer Experience and Price Reduction. in fact “digital” can support of these aspirations, but clearly the pressure is there to be a more digital business, even for those companies within the manufacturing space not considered digital natives.
As a result, every consultant big and little is quite happy to point out your slide deck - “Artificial Intelligence Enabling the Cloud of Digital Transformation within the Industry 4.0 Blockchain of Augmented Reality… as a Service” - with visions of collaborative workplaces, transformational apps, and large data insights. But you say “Well that sounds great, but I’m working for a standard manufacturing company and wait to ascertain my “debt” –20-year old ERP and MES systems, many manual processes on the plant floor, and an old fashioned, non-digital, culture, and organization. How am I getting to chart a digital transformation path forward?”
First, while many can debate the meaning of the phrase “Digital Transformation”, confirm you define what it means for your company. In fact, it probably features a different meaning counting on what business unit or function you’re talking about. Maybe outside disruptors are a serious concern and you would like to rethink how you service your customers, or maybe who your customers are. Maybe your business, like Linde’s, is capital intensive and still has large barriers to entry, but you would like to still improve quality and price performance. There are not any wrong answers, but you ought to be prepared to play a key role in setting truth north for your organization.
As we develop digital strategies for our businesses, Here are some key tenants. Don’t go technology first – this seems obvious, but hebdomadally there’s a Wall Street Journal article about some companies AI, blockchain or robotics strategy. While which will work if you’re a tech-first company, within the manufacturing space which will typically only cause a series of unfulfilling pilots that won’t scale. Start together with your business strategy and consider how digital can complement that.
Second, have a bifocal view of future – experimenting with new ways to figure are crucial for the future, but within the short term don’t lose specialize in ensuring your foundational systems are robust enough to enable change at scale. Third, cause you to feel your customers experience – not just sales feedback or surveys, but enter their shoes. See how they think, act and work. Remember, not most are curious about being digitally transformed.
Fourth, change your focus to platforms and products over projects. While this is often a habit in today’s software companies, many manufacturers still follow the “fund one capital investment at time” approach. While that also is sensible when you’re putting equipment on the bottom, it doesn’t fit well with the necessity for fast iteration and improvement inherent to the digital world.
Finally, know your path to value. believe those nuggets of ROI that digital enables – more real-time and granular data, reduced friction in getting things done, more connectedness together with your ecosystem. And be able to manage through changing people’s jobs. Remember that the main target isn't to be more digital – it’s about changing how work gets done.
Let’s mention some specific samples of our digital strategy advertisement how they hook up with the business strategy. Industrial gas customers like ours view our products, like oxygen, hydrogen, and argon, as utilities a bit like water and electricity. Once they open the valve, they expect the oxygen to be there, no questions asked. As a result, high equipment reliability and plant availability are key tenants to the economic gas business. Our digital strategy follows suit, as we are continuously developing new IoT solutions that combine low-cost sensing with advanced analytics to supply new insights into machinery performance.
Second, industrial gas processes are hugely energy-intensive. The economic gas business consumes about 2% of the US manufacturing industry's overall energy consumption, so the tenth improvement in energy efficiency has large business and sustainability implications. Thus, a big part of our digital strategy is to leverage promoted automation to maximize efficiency. We've designed and deployed systems that will fully automate all aspects of plant operation including startup. And that we are starting to leverage new sensing technology, like infrared images, to further optimize plant efficiency. Also, because our asset base is very distributed (Linde operates overflow two thousand facilities globally), we believe global remote access and robust digital tools in order that the acceptable experts can easily monitor plant performance anywhere within the world.
Beyond executing on the key new products as described above, you would like to possess an aggressive strategy to speak success stories to all or any parts of the organization in order that they too want to participate within the transformation. you furthermore may get to take steps to introduce people in the least levels of the organization to digital technologies and processes. Small scale, cross-functional workshops on subjects like design thinking and agile will help build that culture. For instance, agile may be a close variant on lean, therefore the lean practitioners supporting manufacturing operations can quickly devour the agile development process and apply it to digital and non-digital products alike.
Some final thoughts – specialize in the work to be done, not the technology; confirm you’re solidifying your foundational systems in parallel to experimenting with new technology; still expand your ecosystem of partners including academia, startups, your customers and suppliers; and avoid getting trapped in trying to form an enormous just one occasion splash, but rather specialize in what steps you’re taking a day to become a far better business. Follow that path and you’ll achieve success within the end.