A recent survey revealed that almost three-quarters (71%) of industrial decision-makers agreed with the statement that, ‘We need to get digital technologies, so we can prosper’.

Further on, the surveyed agreed – by a remarkable balance of 2:1 – that the future of (successful) manufacturing lies in the leveraging the combination of established technologies and more advanced, cutting-edge developments.

On the other hand, it also came clear that there still is relative caution within the Industry.

The need for adoption and transition is being acknowledged, but there is a serious innovation lag in between companies that talk and truly walk the talk by pulling the trigger and investing in these new opportunities.

It seems to me that the gap mostly exists because of a lack of understanding of how to get started, what skills are needed, and the right technological investments.

These barriers can be overcome, as demonstrated by the rapid growing list of manufacturers who already are successfully using technology to innovate business models, supercharge business growth and disrupt entire industries.

Making these steps forward can look daunting at first, but the reward seems to always worth the risk. Simply because there is no there is no future in the status quo for businesses.

What is Digital Transformation?

A quick look-up on Wikipedia results in the following description:

“Digital Transformation (DT) is not necessarily about digital technology, but about the fact that technology, which is digital, allows people to solve their traditional problems. And they prefer this digital solution to the old solution”

Digital Transformation in the Manufacturing Industry.

What we can learn from this is that it’s more than just “going paperless. In fact, it’s more a strategy to enable new types of innovation and creativity in a particular domain, rather than simply enhance and support traditional methods.

Knowing these key facts, let’s move forward.

Five Steps to a Successful Digital Transformation

1: Beginning with the end in mind

Your Digital Transformation should support not only the customer of today but also the customer of tomorrow. What do you expect the market to or operational environment to look like in five year’s time? Wil some current services still be relevant? Or will the demands for these services change?

The manufacturing can be disrupted quickly, and it also predicted to be revolutionized very soon (the Fourth Industrial Revolution). To see this in action, all you have to do is look at the world of retail over the past decade for evidence of that.

You need to think long and hard about what would happen if there was no market for your product tomorrow. That can be scary, but it can also be tremendously liberating in helping you define your organization’s digital transformation roadmap.

2: Think broader than individual processes

Whenever a system is introduced with new capabilities it’s necessary to review the impact of this on the full spectrum of the business.

The customer doesn’t notice much of small efficiency improvements, rather the overall business effectiveness. In the 21st century, the customer will drive the success of any business more than ever before.

3: Lead by example

We are living in an incredibly exciting time for both employees and organizations, particularly for those who are embracing digital transformation.

The new world of technology-driven business depends on a whole new style of leadership. A style where the younger generations will play a key role.

Are you giving the right example to your employees by staying open-minded, supportive and eager to invest in this new world?

4: Understanding Agile

The digital world is developing at such a great pace that sometimes this can mean that a better solution to a problem can be found during the improvement process. In traditional means, a project scope cannot be altered or even abandoned when such an opportunity occurs.

Being Agile gives the opportunity to come up with many ideas and rapidly prototyping them to determine whether they hold value or not.

5: Get mentoring

There is a saying that goes like “Smart people make mistakes and learn from them. Wise people find people that made mistakes and learn from them before making them themselves.”

This is absolutely true for new technical challenges. Finding partners with the experience in achieving results combined with the support and motivation to keep developing will be key in making the moves forward.