I've been reading several industry reports in the last week, and all of them suggest that developing a "Digital Transformation Strategy" is the most important thing for manufacturers to be doing to stay competitive. I agree that leveraging technology better than your competitors is going to keep you ahead in the coming years, but what will it cost you?

The size of the prize here is huge. The Dun & Bradstreet Manufacturing Industry Profile states:

"Manufacturers have turned to digitization to improve efficiency across every area of operations, including product development, design, distribution, and marketing."

Forbes cited that "electronics brands have already generated millions of dollars in efficiency gains in the last month" by implementing a digital systems using data stored in the cloud.

But often the next sentence of these reports states that the digital transformation is going to require "significant investment." The Society of Manufacturing Engineers details costs you will run into if you are implement a digital transformation in house:

  • Do-it-yourself projects may appear to be cheaper but you will likely spend more in salaries and delays than hiring it out.
  • Staffing requirements for a digital transformation include engineers, software developers, technicians, estimators, skilled floor staff, and more.
  • Even if you have all of those people at your company, who is going to keep the day-to-day operation running while they shift focus to the digital project?

In the end, a digital transformation is more about using tech to connect devices and read data. It's about being smarter with the data that you have and making efficiency gains with that new data.

Take a look at the paper based tracking you are doing today and ask if that information was available digitally, what would it be worth to your teams and your leadership? The elimination of work on your digital journey could look like this:

  1. Eliminating the manual paper-based tracking processes that teams are doing and leaders are inputting into an excel spreadsheet
  2. Eliminating the travel time to and from the whiteboard to write down results
  3. Eliminating the printing and hanging of paper based results on the bulletin board

What would that save you if you could have all of the same data without the hassle?

Can you spare 30 minutes to save 10% productivity?