digital transformation, advanced technology, business strategy, manufacturing

The term digital transformation has been a thoroughly discussed topic in recent years, but it actually originates in the 1990s when organizations first began computerizing their processes and activities. After early packet switching networks such as ARPANET and the NPL network evolved into what we know today as the World Wide Web, digital channels known as websites became prime platforms for data-sharing, online discussion forums, blogs, social networking and online shopping.

Today the Internet continues to grow in size and expand in functionality, and with the propensity of the Internet of Things (IoT), organizations now have the ability to improve their processes and drive real change on the enterprise level.

Establishing a Digital Transformation Strategy

There are a lot of terms and technologies out there when considering digital transformation, so establishing a true-to-fit digital transformation strategy can seem challenging, even overwhelming. Though when it comes to the digitalization of manufacturing operations, it’s important to take a step back and first assess your current digital footprint to identify friction points between your existing systems. Goals like increasing efficiency and lowering costs may be at the forefront of your strategy, so the coordination of manufacturing execution activities is a good place to start.

A few examples of digitalization projects might include:

  • Integral Extension of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) into Operations
  • Enterprise Quality Management System (QMS)
  • Coordinated Material Management from Warehouse to Shop Floor and Back Again

It’s important to remember, too, that no two digital transformation strategies are the same. There are different approaches. The term ‘digitization’, for example, which is essentially the automation of a computerized process, differs from ‘digitalization’, or the rethinking of processes and strategies to realize real results on the enterprise level. Manufacturers operating with a more insulated business model might be able to get away with a more incremental digitization approach, but those experiencing high levels of disruption might want to consider a more in-depth digitalization approach.

Finding the Right Projects to Support Your Strategy

In his recent article written for ERP News, Glenn Graney, QAD’s Director of Industrial and High Tech, discusses digital transformation opportunities, the challenges behind organizational collaboration, and the connection points between operations and business planning systems.

“The friction points between systems can present attractive opportunities for true digitalization. Poor collaboration between the planning and operation disciplines restricts a manufacturing organization’s ability to meet customers’ needs. Manufacturers often lack timely and accurate insight into the operational status of planned production. This lack of insight interferes with production’s ability to respond effectively to unpredictable customer situations, inventory shortages, equipment failures, and supply chain interruptions.” – Glenn Graney, Director of Industrial and High Tech

To learn more about the pursuit of business and digital transformation, read the full story in ERP News, or check out Glenn’s in-depth white paper on jump-starting your digital transformation efforts.