ManufacturingSeptember 13, 2021

3 Ways Industrial Companies are Updating their Digital Transformation Strategies

Digital transformation and disruption started in B2C and digitally-enabled businesses in media,…
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Isaac Sacolick
Isaac Sacolick is the President of StarCIO, where he guides clients on succeeding with data and technology while executing smarter, faster, safer, and more innovative transformation programs. He is a successful startup CTO and CIO who led digital transformation, product development, innovation, agile management, and data science programs in multiple organizations. Isaac is the author of the Amazon bestseller, Driving Digital: The Leader’s Guide to Business Transformation Through Technology, and has written over seven hundred articles as a contributing editor at InfoWorld, Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other publications. He keynotes on digital transformation topics and helps business, technology, and digital leaders drive culture, practice, and technology changes.

Digital transformation and disruption started in B2C and digitally-enabled businesses in media, entertainment, retail, hospitality, and financial services. But industrial companies in manufacturing, construction, life sciences, transportation, CPG, and others recognize digital’s impact and opportunities and have been investing in new products, updating workflow, and becoming more data-driven.

Many businesses that started their digital transformation journeys pre-COVID are now updating them to reflect new realities, different opportunities, and evolving hybrid working models. Industrial companies lead the charge in areas where safety, sustainability, supply chain resiliency, and human experiences create long-term strategic differentiation.

Here are three actions industrial companies are taking to expand and update the scope of their digital transformations.

1. Pivot from Speed to Market to Safety and Sustainability

A primary focus of many digital transformations is to improve customer experiences, bring new digitally-enabled services to market faster, and facilitate rapid enhancement cycles. Technologies that enable automation and low-code application development and practices, including design thinking, agile development, and DevOps, are at the heart of this transformation.

But speed to market may not be the primary objective in many industrial products and services. For example, safety is a top concern when developing medical devices, and technologies like Computational Modeling and Simulation (CM&S) help simulate human biological test environments and conditions. Manufacturing companies are using digital twins not only to save time and money but also to address their sustainability goals by reducing waste from physical prototypes.

These two examples illustrate a broader charter for industrial companies that deliver, market, and brand their product and service capabilities based on their safety and sustainability qualities.

2. Design Products that Consider Supply Chain Risks

COVID-related supply chain disruptions impacted nearly every industry, and the delta variant is creating new risks. Consider that 42 percent of global exports source from Asia, and on August 12, the Drewry World Container Index reached $9,421.48 per 40-foot container, about 3.5 times more expensive than one year ago.

And it’s not just COVID that’s impacting supply chains. Consider regional issues from hurricanes and forest fires to global climate-changing impacts that may dwarf COVID’s supply chain impacts.

The result is that global companies are putting in new software technologies, processes, and analytics to manage their supply chains. The tools enable integrations, visibility, and intelligence into supply chain risks and help managers accelerate decision-making.

But technologists recognize the need to apply shift-left thinking to manage quality, security, and other risks that impact product delivery.

Shifting left implies that engineers consider operational risks during the development process, and technologies such as virtual twins can enable product improvements. Lucas Florez, Dassault Systèmes Sustainability Industry Process Expert, states that “with virtual twin technologies, data can be consolidated from each stage of the product and production lifecycles, allowing users to weave information together and analyze it to identify opportunities for improvement, track performance, and inform decisions.”

In a volatile, globally connected world, companies that develop supply chain resilient products and services are likely to have a competitive edge.

3. Leverage Simulation to Improve the Human Experience

Design thinking helps product developers and engineers consider user personas, develop journey maps, and optimally develop customer experiences. But in a world full of uncertainties, product developers must scale their design thinking approaches from dozens of personas to thousands of user types and from known use cases to more volatile operating conditions.

Human experience factors include physical abilities, biomechanics, cognitive functions, aesthetics, and others that formulate a product’s “look and feel” and human interfaces.

While many tools and techniques are used in design thinking, adding simulation helps expand the test scenarios and stress operating environments. Engineers use simulations in various ways, from improving elective vehicle passenger experiences to achieving quieter aircraft to improving human-machine productivity in digital factories.

And leveraging simulation may be the most significant digital transformation tool needed by industrial companies. Because, in a more complex world where safety, sustainability, supply chain, and human experiences are all important design considerations, simulation enables engineers to validate their designs against a wide range of operating conditions.

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To learn more about digital transformation strategies, register here for the 3DEXPERIENCE Dialogues – our focused topic roundtables taking place Sept. 21-23 featuring influencers and customers focused on complex challenges, future outlook, and practical solutions for post-pandemic innovation, including:

  • Sept. 21: The Unsung Technology Hero behind Product Innovation.
  • Sept. 22: Digital Transformation-Where Do We Go From Here?
  • Sept. 23: How Manufacturing Success starts with Virtual + Real Operations.

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