From the many recent conversations that I have had with people about the Industrial Internet of Things, Industry 4.0 or digitalization, there is a clear consensus that something should be done. The question is, how do you get started on this journey. ? A journey that’s likely to transform your company, your workflows, and the types of tasks that people perform without losing sight of what the overarching goal i? As mentioned in previous blogs, I am not a believer in applying technology simply because it is the latest and coolest fad. Digitalization should be viewed as an enabler and not as an end goal. After all, you want to ensure there is real, quantifiable value behind executing any digitalization project that aims at benefiting your company, your employees and your customers (or better yet, all three combined). Luckily, there are plenty of technologies that provide many exciting benefits such as the digital twin, remote connection and integrated engineering. And if they’re applied properly, they can really make a difference in any company. Therefore, doing nothing by ignoring digitalization is no longer an option.
Should I align strategies?
Before looking at what you can do about digitalization and how you can make it more operational, there are a couple of general key points I want to make about digitalization. These are observations primarily based on what I have seen, heard, read, and talked about related to Industry 4.0.
- Make sure you engage with a partner or set of partners you trust and that they have the expertise to guide you along the way. This may involve working with partners of one of your partners as it is doubtful that any one single company can solve all challenges related to your specific situation
- A digitalization project should be deployed in a smaller setting first to verify the projected outcomes. The location for such a pilot should preferably be at a plant or facility that is somewhat digitally mature meaning that a strong data network is already in place that allows putting data into the cloud
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If there is more than one project on your digitalization road map, these should be prioritized according to clear and concise criteria. These could be the highest impact compared to investment size, internal resources required and easiest ones to implement
- It is important to view digitalization from a strategic position to make sure it is built around your company’s road map, core business, and core competencies. I have seen too many examples of technologies piloted without strategic consideration as to why it is being done. So, make sure you align those strategies!
You have realized that you need to do something about digitalization, but now what?
There’s no doubt that all digitalization journeys are different and naturally depend on the company that’s implementing it. Factors that come into play include the number of employees, their skill set, mix of products being sold, financial strength, and much more. For this reason, it may seem difficult or even impossible to find commonalities in how, when, and why to roll out such a strategy. The positive news, however, is that this is not the case.
Digitalization has been around for a few years, and that has allowed us to develop tried and tested approaches and methodologies that can be applied to pretty much any size company in any industry. Check out Part 2 of this blog to learn more about the four-step approach that can help you break down that lofty, pie-in-the-sky vision about using digital technologies into tangible projects.