Can Traditional Manufacturers Build A Modern Digital Workplace?

A look at four tactics businesses and IT consultants can apply when working to establish a successful dynamic workplace.

Eighty percent of organizations have a digital workplace strategy or are in the process of establishing one. With those statistics, you would assume most companies allocate a sizable line item for forging ahead with transformational changes. However, only 18 percent plan to allocate 25 percent or more of their budget to digital workplace initiatives in the next 12 months, according to a recent IDG Research Services study.

We’ve entered into a time of deviation from traditional cultural expectations of how, when and where we work driven by consumer behavior. Industry analysts refer to this digital workplace evolution as the product of “industrialized choice.”

The IDG research suggests manufacturers and energy firms are in favor of digital workplace transformation. However, many organizations have preserved traditional operational practices for decades, and the time has come for change.

The path to digital transformation is paved with good intentions. While most IT leaders claim they are committed to achieving an innovative digital workplace, many also struggle to find success. To establish a reliable plan, organizations must ensure their vision has direction and focus.

Digital Workplace Transformation

The IDG study describes a digital workplace as “the concept that there is a virtual equivalent to the physical workplace, which needs to be planned and managed coherently because it is fundamental to people's productivity, engagement and working health.”

While many manufacturers want to commit to this workplace evolution, they continue to cling to their wallets. In fact, a third of manufacturing organizations are allocating only 10 percent of their IT budget toward these initiatives over the next year.

Organizational cohesion is apparently in initial stages of operational change when the vision is fresh and budgets approved. However, engagement tends to flounder as teams naturally gravitate toward their particular area of focus or specific role. As a result, there is often a lack of investment in maintaining the enthusiasm and commitment to change.

Culture also drives this curtailment of engagement. Often, each team prioritizes its work over others, which is when collaboration and innovation fail. As a result, it’s critical to influence big-picture thinking from the top down.

Organizations that thrive have a leader at the top who fosters a positive culture through personal behavior. When a leader demonstrates symbiotic actions that encourage the acceptance of a digital transformation, it makes a positive impact not only on culture but also the bottom line. It’s unrealistic to expect employees to change how they collaborate without giving them examples to follow.

Cultural transformation often demands the guidance of an IT consultant to ensure all levels of the organization remain aligned with the overarching strategy.

Below are four tactics businesses and IT consultants can apply when working to establish a successful dynamic workplace.

No. 1 - Develop a Roadmap to Drive Transformation

Creating and instituting a roadmap to guide transition alleviates added stress the changes might pose by clarifying looming questions. Organized frameworks set teams up for success by providing measurable goals and have the proven ability to help companies quickly adjust to new developments. Systematic outlines incorporate IT, users and the business, focusing on efficiency, reliability and scalability of user experience.

No. 2 - Use Analytics to Your Advantage

Analytic tools provide measurable business insights, especially around worker productivity and effectiveness. These tools also empower companies to predict and plan for any challenges that might arise. Many manufacturers postulate their priorities and issues rather than proactively prepare for them.

While analytic capabilities have been around for some time, they remain underutilized. End-user analytical results are a critical element in ensuring measurable benefits for the business, IT and ultimately the users.

No. 3 - Build for Flexibility

Workplace transformation should take an integrated, flexible approach. Building for flexibility is challenging, considering individuals use multiple devices and applications. It’s not unusual to see companies employ 15 to 20 different user tools, each of which has its unique set of functionalities that need support.

To address this issue and ensure flexibility, it is imperative organizations take a holistic approach. Capabilities must be malleable enough to support both the device and user while remaining relevant.

No. 4 - Demonstrate the Demand for Long-Term Viability

Achieving a dynamic workplace is not a project; it’s an operational revolution. IT teams must focus on continuous, incremental improvements that deliver strategic business value.

The ultimate measure of a CIO’s success centers on baseline security, reasonable cost control and transparency. Successful strategies motivate organizational change and diplomatic development that produce the necessary change traditional IT disciplines historically find challenging to sustain.

Bottom Line: Determine Value

Integrating new technology in manufacturing organizations is now essential rather than optional. Whether your company has already embraced this technological change or is actively resisting the movement, the shift in customer expectations will come. In today’s evolving economy, businesses must seize change not only to outlive their competitors, but prosper.

More than ever it’s essential for organizations to digitally transform their workplaces into a dynamic model that encourages employee engagement at all stages of the transition. While change is intimidating, transformation will demonstrate value to the bottom line while creating valuable organizational cultures that empowers businesses to thrive.

To read “4 Steps to a Dynamic Workforce”, a whitepaper based on the study, visit

Dan Chalk is Senior Director of Global Strategic Solutions Practice for NTT DATA Services.

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