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Digital transformation. It’s a term that is keeping manufacturers on their toes, and one that has some companies going back to the strategy drawing board. The digital transformation of manufacturing is exemplified by changes happening across many different industries, driven not only by technology but also evolving consumer demands. Markets are constantly changing, and businesses aren’t lasting as long as they once did.

The idea of changing a business strategy can be daunting. How will our key stakeholders react to major investments in our back-end systems? The lights are on, so why do anything at all? The answer is, technology is always changing, and industries will continue to change right along with it. One cannot successfully compete in the future by simply relying on existing business models or systems. 

From manufacturer business models to distributor and retailer business models. From continuous manufacturing systems to intermittent and flexible manufacturing systems. Everything can and will be affected. So, it’s time to act quickly, right? Not necessarily.

What is the Best Approach to the Digital Transformation?

Some manufacturers have already begun to explore the underlying technologies of the digital transformation, such as augmented reality and machine learning, to get ahead of the curve and turn industry disruption into competitive advantage. Others might only be concerned with how well a current system is doing, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), and postpone future upgrades. Both scenarios can be viewed as “good” approaches, but it’s still not good enough.

It is imperative that manufacturers take on the digital transformation process at a pace that not only works from an investment standpoint, but also a people standpoint. Those involved in managing manufacturing operations, whether in the office or on the shop floor, should have the resources they need to manage current systems as well as support the transition. After all, they are the ones keeping the shop floor operations running, and should be an integral part of this transformative stage.

Past Results Do Not Guarantee Future Performance

In a recent article written for Industrial Equipment News, Carter Lloyds, QAD’s Chief Marketing Officer, highlights critical pain points for manufacturers looking to embrace the digital transformation. Past results do not guarantee future performance. Manufacturing businesses must be aware of potential risks, and the fact that unknown risks do exist. Understanding when and when not to invest is also key to tackling industry change and setting your business up for future success. So, before you act too quickly, assess your systems and address them with a go-forward plan at a manageable pace.

“Before the company can invest in growth, you need to ensure you have a solid foundation upon which to build. Taking the time to review your current systems and governance is a critical first step in understanding your risk. Only then can mitigations be put in place to reduce the potential risks and impacts.” – Carter Lloyds, Chief Marketing Officer

To learn more about the digital transformation of manufacturing as well as some of the associated challenges and benefits, read the full story in Industrial Equipment News.