The subject of digital transformation always reminds me of the “good news/bad news” genre of jokes. Like this one from humorist Riane Konc in The New Yorker: “The bad news is that my friend hates my gallows humor. The good news is that he will be dead soon.”
So, here’s the bad news. Rapidly changing expectations and increased uncertainties are challenging most corporate business plans. For manufacturing, this means that those rock solid processes and products that date back generations have reached their end-of-life utility.
Now the good news: A time of chaos and upheaval is a great time to double down on digital innovation. The trick is to know what to do, and when to do it.
In so many industries, Engineering is expected to design for custom versions of a product – not just one. Sales is under pressure to deliver experiences, not just take orders or undercut a competitor. Supply Chain partners expect instant access to data, thanks to new Internet of Things tech — but who is in charge of IoT processes? If Model Based Design is moving toward Model Based Systems Engineering, why are there still so many document-based information exchanges taking place? Why are mechanical, electrical, and electronic engineers each working on separate data sets?
These scenarios and more are only as challenging as you allow. Digital transformation becomes possible when companies value transformative opportunities more than status quo processes.
Shortcomings hide behind every opportunity. Digital transformation and the future of your business depend on knowing when, where, how, and why to apply change that improves business.
The real good news
The good news is your company is already pretty good at creating digital “things.” The bad news? There is no bad news twist. Email, Slack, and Excel are all digital tools. Your CAD tools make digital work products, and you put them in your digital PDM, PLM, or the Dassault Systemès 3DEXPERIENCE platform. So many of the deliverables you now create — from quick messages to RFQs and commissioning documentation — are already digital.
OK, so maybe I made a little white lie in the previous paragraph; there is a bad news side. For many companies, all of that digital stuff is managed and stored by different programs, used by different individuals and teams. Too many programs, too many file formats.
Such diverse (and too often disconnected) use and management leads to the first Really Big Deal about digital transformation: There should be a single, holistic, centrally accessible product definition that everyone uses. Digital transformation is not just finding and rooting out the last bits of paper-based work processes. It is the transformation of business practices, processes, competencies and operational models.
One Dassault Systemès customer recently came to the company with a request. The high-quality product images sent to Marketing were not synchronized to Product Development.
Too often their advertising campaigns were sabotaged by outdated imagery. The solution came in streamlining the process with 3DEXPERIENCE platform-based access for both teams. The company wasn’t looking for global digital transformation, but the lesson learned from doing one thing right is now their guiding influence for further innovation.
The next great idea might literally start out as a napkin sketch, but as soon as the coffee break is over that sketch is moved to a digital format. In a digitally transformed workplace from that point on, everything relating to it becomes accessible to every team member. All project data should be traceable and accessible all the time. That leads to the Second Really Big Deal about digital transformation: The goal of digital transformation is to automate everything. All team members always have access to every bit of information they need to help create the product.
From hidden havoc to practical goals
The last few years have taught us that change is no longer simply inevitable; change is now constant. Being intentional about digital transformation usually means companies uncover hidden havoc. Digital transformation is not a project with a beginning and an ending. Successful digital transformation is the equivalent to a corporate DNA transplant, one in which the corporate body continues to reinvent itself over time.
The best way to start the process of digital transformation is to stay practical. Here are five strategies to help you sort things out.
- Stay Flexible: New workflows should increase and improve manufacturing and supply chain flexibility. The phrase “we can’t do that” needs to disappear.
- Automate Everything: Every process should be automatic from end to end.
- Be Kind to the Audit: Every artifact of doing business, digital or physical, should be trackable by anyone in the organization who has a need to know and a need to do.
- Invisibility is Deadly: All processes must be visible to all parts of the organization.
- Always There When You Need It: You don’t call the Post Office when you want delivery, the mail is just delivered. No one in your organization should have to request information: your digital workflow should send it automatically.
Again, digital transformation and the future of your business depend on knowing when, where, how, and why to apply change that improves business.
Editor’s Note: Learn more about digital collaboration platforms and fueling innovation by registering for Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE: A Virtual Journey. Our series of online, on-demand episodes deliver thought leadership, actionable content from industry influencers, Dassault Systemes experts, and customers who have implemented 3DEXPERIENCE to meet today’s manufacturing challenges.
Check out the session agendas, and register to watch anytime, anywhere.
3DEXPERIENCE: A Virtual Journey schedule:
- July 29th: Manufacturing and Supply Chain.
- August 26th: Fueling Innovation in the New Agile Enterprise.
- September 23rd: Modeling & Simulation.
- October 14th: Enabling Business Continuity Via the Cloud.