As we approach — or plunge — into the fourth industrial revolution, it’s worth a look at what it means to be part of the Digital Industry. At it’s core, being part of the Digital Industry is about using a strong digital foundation to slash operational and maintenance costs while retaining the ability to deliver consistent quality of products and services with zero defects — The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
But what does it take to enact a digital transformation? How can companies succeed in completing the fourth industrial revolution by themselves? Well, here’s a look at the core tenets of enacting, establishing and building a business model within the digital realm.
The Will to Change
According to CMO, 27 percent of senior executives say that digital transformation is a matter of survival, while 19 percent of companies say that appointing a chief digital officer (CDO) is something that will have to happen sooner rather than later. However, although there is increasing urgency, just 10 percent of businesses describe themselves as ‘fully digital’.
The good news is that 70 percent of executives, however, say they have started the digitization of their factories already. This is crucial to companies’ future survival, and all organizations that are not in the ‘fully digital’ 10 percent need to start looking at ways of speeding up their digital operations. The fruits of this overhaul will take time to bear, but they will be worth it in the end.
The digital transformation of General Electric (GE) is a classic example. It took place as the result of a structured approach that involved a strong top-down digital vision that it has constantly reexamined and reworked as time and technology moved forward. At 120 years old, many would have forgiven GE for failing to keep up yet this is the only company to still remain in the Dow Jones Industrial Index since the original index was established in 1896.
Similarly, American machinery and equipment firm Caterpillar is using the IIoT to perform industrial analytics to help their customers better understand the health of their equipment, which lets them monitor and optimize their fleets more effectively.
Thyssenkrupp, a German industrial conglomerate, is another noteworthy example. The company built a digital revolution for its global elevator service. This adoption of new technology allows the company’s 24,000 service technicians to do their jobs more safely and efficiently. With the technology they are able to visualize and identify problems with elevators ahead of a job and also have access to remote, hands-free, technical and expert information on site. This results in significant savings of time and stress.
Champion for a Cause
The role of the CDO — mentioned earlier — is to champion the digitization of a company. The role is pivotal in helping to define the digital vision of any given business, helping employees at all levels execute a cohesive strategy to make digitization happen. The CDO’s role is to become the glue that holds together disparate teams and aligning them towards the common goal of a digital first company in the IIoT era.
All companies embarking on a digital transformation need to start with a holistic plan of existing capabilities — and their current operating model — of every aspect of the business. This includes all functions as separate entities, such as sales, marketing, finance R&D, operations, and other departments. It is important to map out a path for each department towards achieving their digital goals. This means looking at, individually, how each team plays a role, how they align together, and, crucially, how they can eliminate gaps and prevent data siloing that could put the transformation on pause.
Automating the approach to data science for predictive maintenance will help businesses become agile in their responses, moving faster to the dynamics of markets. Digital organizations can create enhanced customer experiences by ensuring faster delivery of products and services, driving value and differentiation.
Build Strong Relationships With Employees and Partners
This vision needs to be felt by employees in order for it to survive and grow. In order for that to happen, it must be reflected in the work environment every day. From using technology and tools to make work easier to trading up organizational policies for more meaningful processes, change is key in making this happen.
A strong ecosystem and workplace community can do wonders for making this change happen. By collaborating with employees and partners who complement your core — new — IIoT capabilities, you can demonstrate market leadership and reach to customers.
Airbus is making this happen by adopting a range of IIoT methods to digitize and facilitate the lives of workers on the factory floor. From the perspective of the European aircraft maker, the factory of the future will see factory floor workers using tablets or smart glasses to assign tasks and send the information to a robotic tool that executes it.
Trusted partners can help businesses achieve cutting-edge outcomes by leveraging cumulative industry and domain expertise. Collaborative innovating platforms help businesses, their employees and their partners to span markets and penetrate diverse segments.
It’s important to remember that even digitally mature companies can have technology gaps that need filling. Strategic partnerships make it easier and faster to navigate through change and implement new strategies than just building them internally. It is critical to align with partners and understand the broader strategies you are embarking on, the required strengths of which your organization lacks.
Revamping your digital capabilities means sticking to these three golden rules. Owning the decision is the first. As the executive, you need to start the transformation and watch as it trickles down the organization. Secondly, accept that you don’t know everything; this will be a steep learning curve and stubbornness will not facilitate the evolution you are searching for. Lastly, remember that you have to foster the environment of digitization among your workforce, and through intelligent partnerships.
By taking the challenge head on with confidence, and by taking these points into consideration, success in the IIoT era will surely be yours.