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Adapting to new trends often comes in waves. We’d prefer if we could pace ourselves and anticipate new technology, but it’s never that simple in a digital landscape.
As technology improves, companies must adapt. Adapting to new technology can save hundreds of thousands of dollars in operational and administrative costs. Moreover, the mere appearance of adoption can make the difference in clients perceiving you as a reputable thought leader or an obsolete brand past its prime.
Your intention, of course, is to keep your brand relative and alive. That is why prepping your company’s culture, assets, and methodology to abide by digital trends is paramount.
Optimization Through Digitization
The time of pen and paper is a bygone era. As more companies move their documentation management to online cloud storage platforms, it opens the door to time, space, and improved organization.
Consequently, it allows progressive brands to accomplish more with their time than brands that haven’t adjusted their document management. Not only this, but file sharing is becoming more expected by consumers as opposed to traditional means of communication like snail mail.
Digitizing company documents can also improve the quality of life for most HR workers as it can reduce the footprint of files they need to keep track of physically.
But it’s not only for convenience. If data is being shared via e-mail, it faces the possibility of malicious online threats. That’s why data encryption and security measures are in place to protect sensitive documentation belonging to companies.
Although transforming all physical documents to a digital format may be an involved and large task at first, the benefits of time savings and organization can vastly outweigh the initial time investment. However, it needs to be done in a way that can be repeatable on a daily basis. The new system of conducting work processes digitally needs to be scalable. Physical methods should be put away. Digital forms, communication, and organization should take their place.
It can often feel daunting to convert thousands of documents into digital formats. That’s why many brands hire consultants to aid them in arranging their systems in a way that can be easily categorized, implemented, and repeated.
Entering the Metaverse
The metaverse, one of the most recent and ongoing technological trends, is going to change all aspects of life, including average business daily life. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it is a virtual rendering and representation of the world we live in. You can imagine it like a video game at first, trying to imitate real life by making it appear as real as possible.
The metaverse does this, but the intent is that it will have practical application. For example, where today, to buy groceries, one must get up, go outside, drive to the store, walk around the store, purchase the merchandise, and return home.
These digital realities will strive to allow you to enter a virtual rendering of the same grocery store and simulate walking around and purchasing groceries. The difference is that you won’t have to leave your home. Your groceries will simply be dropped off via a drone, and that’s that.
We already see a glimpse of this in actuality through the popular app, Instacart, which enables distant customers to shop for groceries from their mobile phones.
The ability to access virtually and experience tangible things from a distance could imply major benefits for a lot of different applications.
It could allow clientele to browse inventory and specifications of a product that’s located on the other side of the world. It could allow physically disabled individuals the ability to shop on their own. The benefits are worth considering.
And that is what your brand must consider. What does its place in the metaverse look like? There’s certainly a host of ways that businesses can leverage the metaverse to their advantage, including the sale of NFTs to behave almost like a ticketing system to obtain real-life tangible items. Some other examples might include exhibiting product demonstrations for industrial machining companies or product testing a new design before its put on the market.
If you start now, your brand could be among the first early adopters of the metaverse when it eventually takes off and becomes one of the main alternatives to physical experience.
Be wary. The internet didn’t take off right away. And there will be plenty of naysayers that try to diminish the validity of the metaverse, but your company should be prepared to adapt if it becomes the next big thing.
Maintain Awareness of What’s Next
If there’s anything you take away from this, it should be to stay vigilant and aware of what’s creeping up on the horizon.
The metaverse might get big for a decade and then fizzle out. It might be replaced by another thing shortly after. The important thing to do is to remain conscientious of what’s coming and make decisions on whether or not and how you will adapt to meet the new evolution of technology.
Advancement is exponentially increasing, which means we have smaller and smaller windows of time to settle in the previous development before we have to move on to the next one. Don’t let anything slip by!
*This article is written by Ainsley Lawrence. View more of Ainsley’s articles here.
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Supply chain disruption. Layoffs. The Great Resignation. Hiring wars. The past few years have not been smooth sailing for the manufacturing industry. Dealing with ongoing challenges can take more time out of your day than simply getting the job done.
So, how do manufacturers survive in this tumultuous business climate? Our subject matter experts here at USC Consulting Group have identified and examined six challenges as the most common issues bedeviling manufacturing right now, along with the strategies we offer to our clients to tackle them.
Manufacturing challenges include:
- The ongoing hiring wars
- The skills gap
- Creating a better frontline worker experience
- Digital transformation
- Supply chain disruption and inventory management
- Change management
Dive deeper into each one of these issues and learn the solutions to overcome them in our free white paper “The Consultant’s Guide to Overcoming Today’s Manufacturing Challenges.”
1. The Ongoing Hiring Wars
Like most other industries these days, manufacturing is grappling with the most challenging hiring market in decades. IndustryWeek reports that 54% of U.S. manufacturers are finding it difficult to attract skilled workers to get the job done. That’s up from 38% before the pandemic.
2. The Skills Gap
The hiring wars and the skills gap are giving manufacturing a one-two punch. Not only is it incredibly challenging to fill open positions, but filling them with people who have the skills and experience to get the job done right is proving to be nearly impossible. Hence, the skills gap.
3. A Better Frontline Worker Experience
Just 36% of U.S. employees are engaged at work, and 74% are actively looking for new jobs, according to a Gallup survey. With all of the hiring challenges and shortages of skilled workers, it’s more important than ever to focus on your frontline workforce.
4. Digital Transformation
Digital transformation has been an industry term for several years now. What it means, at its core, is utilizing digital technology to make processes faster, easier, safer and more efficient. The pandemic kicked digital transformation up a notch for manufacturers.
5. Supply Chain Disruption and Inventory Management
Supply chain and inventory management issues have long been a challenge for manufacturers, made worse by the pandemic. These are separate issues, but two sides of the same coin.
6. Change Management
All of these challenges represent and require some degree of organizational change. The term “change management” may seem like the jargon of the moment, but really, it’s about laying the groundwork for change to be successful in your organization.
Learn about each of these challenges in more detail and how to overcome each issue by downloading our white paper:
The Consultant’s Guide to Overcoming Today’s Manufacturing Challenges
If you’re grappling with any of these manufacturing challenges, USC Consulting Group is here to help. We are a global operations management consulting firm that has been helping organizations through more than 50 years of challenges. It’s our specialty. Give us a call today to talk about how we can help you.
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Thanks to cloud and edge computing, SaaS — software as a service — has become a highly transformative technology in both manufacturing and the supply chain. It makes software systems and various technologies accessible to a wide range of operations, big or small. That’s because the system itself is hosted remotely, so the central technologies don’t have to be on the premises or within a facility. SaaS tools are fully built cloud applications.
Picture the type of software that governs a sophisticated manufacturing system. The servers that host that software, and where most of the data is contained, are located off-property away from the manufacturer’s facility. At any time, it can communicate with the connected equipment, and users can access the entire system remotely as well.
However, it’s maintained, serviced, and even secured by a remote provider. The only thing the manufacturer has to worry about is whether or not the connected equipment is running optimally. They don’t have to manage an on-site data center, update servers and software configurations, or even troubleshoot major problems — that’s all done by the SaaS provider.
SaaS is innovative, but how does that system affect the manufacturing industry as a whole? What are the benefits of SaaS when deployed within a smart factory or Industry 4.0 environment?
1. Reduced Costs
Manufacturing software comes in many forms. There are tools to aid in engineering and design, sales or marketing, measure production quality, organize finances, and much more. Each one of those applications requires a steady stream of data and a team to manage both the software and its backend.
Just imagine how much processing power is necessary to handle all of those systems, let alone the physical storage needed to contain the resulting data to keep it all running. The best solution even today is to build a data center, whether on-site or remote. They are very costly to manage and maintain.
SaaS solutions eliminate those costs and requirements because the bulk of the system is hosted elsewhere, on the provider’s servers. There’s no equipment to install and no software to update or manage. It’s all done off-site. That also reduces the need for a large IT or software development team on the manufacturing side.
The kickback is much lower operating costs for manufacturers, despite all the benefits realized from the applications.
2. Better Security
When you need a process completed, but you don’t have the proper knowledge, the common practice is to call in a specialist. That is precisely what SaaS providers are, and it means they have access to highly specific resources and tools that no manufacturer realistically does. That translates to a better solution overall, especially when it comes to digital and data security.
Because their entire business is securing and maintaining their data centers, to provide software to clients, they have much more sophisticated and capable solutions in place. That filters down to the manufacturers subscribing to SaaS services, who realize better data security and smarter digital protections.
3. Unparalleled Flexibility
Manufacturers maintaining software and technology solutions in-house have to scale up when the operation grows, which can be devastating depending on how the market shifts and demand fluctuates. Spending hundreds of thousands to upgrade equipment only to experience a downturn in the market can ruin any business.
SaaS providers handle scaling and delivery. They can add new terminals and new users, and install or activate servers to accommodate their clients. This is not only done seamlessly, but it will also happen near-instantly. Customers can even try before they buy, trialing the services and solutions before deploying them within their facilities. If the software doesn’t work out or add value, it can be canceled at any time with a minimal impact on the greater operation.
4. Enhanced Interoperability
Typically, two pieces of distinct software cannot communicate with each other and the data they utilize isn’t guaranteed to be interchangeable. In manufacturing, this happens a lot with ERP and CMMS solutions. It complicates manufacturer-vendor relationships, especially when the default systems offer no interoperability.
Because SaaS solutions are hosted in the cloud, the systems accommodate interconnection between many different tools and platforms. CMMS, ERP, CRM, and project management tools can all communicate and share data, and the SaaS platform ensures it’s compatible and readable between those solutions.
5. Truly Agile Operations
If you look at what SaaS solutions provide manufacturers from a top-down perspective, it affords many operational efficiencies and creates new opportunities, without increasing the responsibilities the manufacturer is forced to take on. They have everything to gain and almost nothing to lose. Faster and more agile operations are implemented as a result, thanks to a system that’s always on, always ready to scale, and constantly being adapted to the needs of the manufacturer.
6. A Mobile Workforce
Because of the way SaaS solutions are maintained and delivered, they open up a whole new level of accessibility and mobility for manufacturing teams. Everyone from the decision-makers and supervisors to equipment operators gain access to on-demand and mobile-friendly solutions that can be accessed anywhere, at any time.
Additional features include mobile and real-time notifications, instant communication even between departments, remote access to mission-critical applications, and much more. Besides, security is managed on the backend, server-side, so users can move from terminal to terminal, or device to device, without compromising the system.
The caveat is that they need to follow proper security protocols, which means no password sharing or reuse, and precise authentication or verification systems.
An Ever-Evolving Industry Requires Adaptable Solutions
SaaS solutions are changing the manufacturing and production industries, but it’s not the only technology making a dent in normal operations. The entire field is undergoing a revolution, moving ever closer to Industry 4.0. The concept will see a marriage of advanced manufacturing techniques and smart, contextually-driven platforms to achieve seamless intercommunication, efficiency, and operability.
Software as a service plays a role in that movement, as manufacturers look to offset some of the requirements of the digital transformation. SaaS allows manufacturers to keep up with ever-evolving industries and markets. It reduces operational costs, speeds up output and processes, enhances security, improves software compatibility, and helps facilitate truly agile operations. What more could you ask for?
This article is written by Devin Partida. Devin is a tech writer with an interest in the IIoT and manufacturing. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com.
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If you find yourself attached to your legacy software and hardware in your manufacturing operation, you’re not alone. Old habits die hard, as they say, but the technological revolution sweeping industries right now necessitates changes and updates. It might be time to update your legacy systems; but how do you know if it’s really the right time to invest?
Digital systems and advancements in tech from artificial intelligence to the Internet of Things (IoT) are powering new possibilities in business. In manufacturing, IoT alone offers powerful solutions through data gathering, supply chain innovation, product and performance assessments, and much more. These connected devices drive insights that would be impossible otherwise, making their integration a valuable investment for most manufacturers.
With benefits like this stemming from new tech, it’s likely time to leave your legacy system behind and adopt new tools. Recognize the value of an update, then explore these tips for updating your legacy system.
Recognizing when it’s time to update
Facing economic problems in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, technology has come to play a more vital role in all our lives than ever before. From supply chains to individual office workers, the need for adaptive, connected systems is pressing to meet the needs of our global economy and correct problems where they occur. If your tech isn’t serving you at any point in your process, it’s time to update.
Begin with a process map. This is an illustration of your systems that highlights objectives, histories, successes, and failings. With a map laid out of your tech and tools, you can assess a visual model of your process to more easily explore how to make beneficial improvements.
From there, you can ask a series of questions regarding your legacy systems:
- Does our process generate useful data?
- What process information are we failing to gather?
- Is there still sufficient support for our legacy system?
- Where are we experiencing stalled growth or spending money to maintain our system?
- What are our options in the world of digital advancements?
By answering these questions, you’ll map out the flaws of your legacy system and begin to understand how modern tech can improve your productivity and workflows. From supply chain and production transparency to factory floor safety, tools like IoT and AI can revolutionize your process. Once you understand the need for an update, then it’s time to take the necessary steps to implement one.
How to update a legacy system
How you go about updating your legacy system depends on the nature and goals of your particular business model. In manufacturing, this often means ramping up production while eliminating downtime and inventory management issues.
Fortunately, modernizing your system doesn’t have to be difficult. You can achieve a clear plan for advancement in three simple steps. These are: assessing your current system, considering digital solutions, and creating a strategy.
Developing and integrating this plan, however, is typically more challenging. After all, you’ll face the issues of adapting your legacy system to new tools while training your team to make full use of a data-powered, streamlined process. These tips can help you take your plan to update your legacy system from a recognized need to a streamlined, revenue-boosting process.
1. Define the data you need to gather.
When it comes to data, the more the better. That said, there are some vital metrics you’ll want to track to understand how you can improve your process. Look for software and tools that can help you monitor metrics like job cost, labor hours, materials costs, machine downtime and efficiency, and rate of error.
2. Explore scalable, secure solutions.
With an understanding of the data you need to track, explore tools that can help you get there. Machine tools, connected systems, and sensors can all offer invaluable insights into the performance and function of your process. The world of industrial IoT gets better all the time, with 5G wireless connectivity allowing for more and better communication of data in real-time. Scalable data collection is one element of your digital transformation journey you should not neglect, so find tools that allow for growth.
3. Keep it simple.
Updating your legacy system can lead to problems if it mires your workflow in too much complexity. Fortunately, modern software solutions allow manufacturers to streamline their insights into a single, comprehensive dashboard. With the ability to track all your key metrics in one place, you can more easily gain insights and generate ideas for flexibly adopting new solutions.
4. Focus on communication.
When it comes to manufacturing performance, communication is key. Systems must be able to interact and communicate from various sites and among suppliers and departments. Without a comprehensive communication network for real-time data transfer, your updates won’t be as effective as they could be.
5. Don’t neglect employee feedback and training.
Any new system can be difficult to manage. Prioritize employee success to ensure the effectiveness of your new tech, and don’t neglect to gather employee feedback from the very beginning stages of your legacy updating process. Learn where workers encounter challenges, features they’d like to see implemented, and problems they face in adapting to new systems.
By following these strategies when it comes time to update your legacy system, you can take your modernization efforts through the assessment to the implementation stages successfully. As a result, you can power a more transparent, productive manufacturing business with the tools in place to support your workers. Such an approach will lead to the agility your business needs to adapt to the rapid changes of a constantly developing world.
Building an agile business
When it comes to adapting legacy systems, maintaining agile methodology can best serve manufacturers. This framework focuses on collaboration, individual solutions, and ongoing improvement. As such, you’ll be able to work with stakeholders, suppliers, workers, and colleagues to produce high-quality products while retaining flexibility.
The COVID-19 pandemic proved the need for such an adaptive approach to manufacturing. By recognizing the importance of updates and following these strategies for implementing a better system, you can resolve the issues of your legacy platforms that are holding you back in the data-driven world.
Don’t let your legacy system drag you down with cost and implementation barriers. The right tools and strategies are available to enhance your manufacturing processes, if only you apply the proper planning, tools, and collaborative efforts.
If you need help analyzing and updating your legacy system, turn to the subject matter experts at USC Consulting Group.
This article is written by guest author Ainsley Lawrence. View more of Ainsley’s articles here.
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It is difficult to put into exact figures the effects the coronavirus pandemic has had on global industry. However, with manufacturers and supply chains across the world reeling with the ongoing problems the pandemic has presented, we are seeing a definite shift in the ways business is conducted.
Overall, factory shutdown and manufacturing delays have shrunk foreign direct investment by 5-15%, as global trade and supply is interrupted. But some businesses and industries—like toilet tissue, hand soaps and sanitizers, and face mask manufacturers—are experiencing a heavy increase in demand.
So how are these businesses coping with potential delays or limited access to materials? What does this global shift mean for manufacturers and supply chain managers of products that are especially high in demand?
Manufacturers in high demand during the pandemic must devise unique solutions to meet customer satisfaction while protecting employees. While these solutions are different for every industry, how paper products and food services are adjusting are a good indicator of common trends.
Paper companies have seen a 20% increase in orders during the pandemic, with worried individuals stocking up on products like toilet tissue for fear of being stuck inside without it. Additionally, the increased number of individuals either unemployed or working from home means more business for household toiletry and paper products. This means factories already operating on a 24/7 basis have had to increase production, hire on more workers, and buy out more materials, all while maintaining COVID safety recommendations.
Without maintaining employee safety, factories put themselves at risk of shutting down. This is especially vital in the foodservice industry, where workers have to constantly manage risks with shifting inventories.
Food and beverage companies are reevaluating their processes to maintain supply amidst high demand and limited access to materials. Coca-Cola, for instance, has experienced interruptions in shipments of certain sugar alternatives because of the pandemic. Usually, they acquired many of these materials from China, but the difficulties in trade amidst economic shutdowns and transportation complications have made international supply chains difficult to manage.
As a result, manufacturers are shifting to domestic sources. According to a recent survey, 64% of manufacturers believe reshoring is likely, meaning a return to domestic sources of materials and assemblage. This domestic trend can help manage manufacturers and supply chain needs for high-demand products, but the effect on foreign economies will be felt for a long time to come.
Supply Chain Management
Supply chains require vast amounts of data, mapping, and planning for successful, seamless functioning. In light of the pandemic, those that already had a sufficient map of supplier sites had a better understanding of where delays could be anticipated. But data is key here, and it has been the focus of a shift for manufacturers both experiencing increased demand and those that have not.
Supply chains are essential to the transportation and costs of goods, both for manufacturer and consumer. Every aspect of customer satisfaction and good business relies on an effective supply chain, and the coronavirus has impeded supply chains worldwide.
Because of this, industries with high demand are more reliant than ever on the effective mapping of suppliers and the use of data. They need constant, reliable resources to meet demand, and only the best information can assist in this endeavor.
This often means a digital mapping system on top of a “nomadic sourcing” strategy for the long term. Businesses have to adjust their suppliers depending on where they can effectively acquire materials. For example, if a recent outbreak has shut down a factory that makes a specific part needed for another manufacturer’s product, a back-up location must be mapped out and ties created.
Some businesses are adopting these strategies and back-ups now, amid the pandemic, while others were already more prepared with such strategies. Regardless, the emphasis on information and digital tools is creating a shift in the world of supply chain management, where big data and AI tech is increasingly being adopted.
As a result of this shift, the concerns of cyber-attacks are more prevalent than ever. In the digital world made necessary by COVID-19, cybersecurity is a vital element of supply chain management, especially for those providing products in high demand. Data can be highly valuable for hackers and the current 4 million-person shortage in the field of cybersecurity, according to the University of North Dakota, makes for a dangerous landscape for supply chains.
As the industry shifts, digital mapping, nomadic sourcing, and cybersecurity are all central focuses for supply chains managing high-demand products.
A Changing World Amidst the Pandemic
Manufacturers and supply chain managers are having to adjust on the fly to the challenges of a global pandemic, and that means shifting policies and procedures. From integrating safety and social distancing measures to protecting employees to ramping up production and domestic sourcing, modern business is adjusting to high-demand and plotting supply chains with advanced digital all in a challenging environment.
These trends will likely continue for years to come, with the reverberations felt across a wide variety of industries. In manufacturing and shipping, these changes may make for increased awareness and control over materials and supply chains, but only time will tell what the full effects of the pandemic will be on global trade at large.
This article is written by guest author Beau Peters. View more of Beau’s articles here.
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Few innovations have so saturated modern society quite as much as digital has. Perhaps the best example of all is in the consumer products space. From navigation apps, streaming media services, mobile devices, voice assistants and so much more, artificial intelligence tools and features are regularly used by approximately 85% of Americans, according to a 2018 survey conducted by Gallup. And that was three years ago — the percentage has almost assuredly risen considerably since then.
The ubiquitous nature of digitalization has essentially forced businesses to take steps toward incorporating the latest and greatest technologies into their production processes and strategies. Its implementation is evidenced at just about every stage of the supply chain.
Has your company embarked on a digital transformation journey? No matter where your organization is in this shift, there are a few important things to be mindful of to ensure that the changeover is as painless as possible. Be aware of these issues during your company’s digital transformation journey:
1. Transformations don’t always take
Once businesses makes the decision to move forward with a transformation, those who are new to the processes may underestimate how lengthy it all can be – and their chances of finding success. In other words, even though the presumption is going digital naturally increases efficiency, it doesn’t always come to pass.
For example, in 2018, directors, front office executives spent a combined $1.3 trillion on digital transformation initiatives, according to reporting done by Forbes. However, of that total, $900 billion was ill spent, as the transformations never took hold.
Why not? There are plenty of reasons, but as noted by Harvard Business Review, it may have something to do with decision makers’ failure to put the right strategy or mindset in place before the transformation actually begins. Employees — not to mention people, in general — are creatures of habit. Installing new systems and technologies with which they’re unfamiliar can lead to frustration and resentment. That’s why it’s important to establish what workers can anticipate; namely, the changeover may come with some rough patches in the beginning, but the end result will make the challenge worth the effort. Therefore, it is pivotal to define a digital transformation strategy to help evolve your organization, as per digital marketing firm Dash.
2. Provide ongoing training
In a similar vein, digital transformations are described as such because the change is often substantial, even though it may occur pieces at a time to avoid major interruptions in production. That’s why it’s important to ensure staff members have the instructions they need to utilize unfamiliar equipment — and can provide directions to customers who may have the same difficulty making the transition.
A classic example is in the manufacturing space. According to Oxford Economics, the speed with which manufacturers incorporate robotics into their workflows can dramatically enhance production. Indeed, the study found that increasing robot installations by 30% within the next 10 years could lead to a 5.3% uptick in global gross domestic product.
While just about all business decisions are time sensitive, a sudden infusion of robotics can cause confusion and consternation amongst workers, which is part of the reason why digital transformations so often fail. Ongoing training, seminars, and fielding questions from staff is essential to digital adoption so nothing gets lost in translation.
3. Consider a digital transformation consultant
Financial institutions, warehouses, manufacturers, and processing centers have all implemented digital solutions into their workflows in one form or another. While you as an owner must serve as a leader in these efforts, you may not have the level of expertise to effectively answer your workers’ questions. That’s where a digital transformation consultant can be worthwhile. In addition to ensuring work processes go more smoothly with digital elements as opposed to physical or analog, a digital transformation consultant traditionally specializes in whatever industry new tools or solutions are being rolled out, be it manufacturing, consumer products, life sciences, or food and beverage. In short, a digital transformation consultant can make the unavoidable growing pains of process changeovers less painful.
4. Recognize the reality of the digital divide
It sure seems like the world as a whole has gone digital, especially when you consider that a majority of citizens in a number of developing countries own smartphones, according to polling done by the Pew Research Center. But it’s important to understand that access to digital technologies is not as ubiquitous as it may seem at first blush. Look no further than the United States. In a separate survey also conducted by the Pew Research Center, nearly 80% of homeowners who live in or along the outskirts of the city have broadband internet connections. However, less than two-thirds of Americans who live in rural neighborhoods can say the same.
Similarly, 83% of suburban residents own smartphones, Pew found. That percentage drops to 71% for Americans living in rural climes — a 12% gap.
Translation: If you’re looking to grow your business and cater to more customers, you may need to continue providing legacy services until digital technology and the accompanying infrastructure casts a wider footprint.
5. Make sure it’s scalable
While just about every industry has gone through some kind of digital transformation journey, they’re often confined to one particular department or sector, typically the one that needs it the most. In a recent survey of 200 manufacturing senior executives in the U.S. and Canada, more than half of the execs polled said their industrial internet-of-things innovations were small in scale and could not be subsumed by other units, IndustryWeek reported. This may be due to the pinch points that are so often associated with integration.
Making these efforts more scalable requires ongoing communication among departments, step-by-step instructions tailored to each department and selecting an integration platform that is user-friendly and fosters collaboration, IndustryWeek advised.
Transforming your work processes won’t be done overnight and it may not go exactly as you intended. However, USC Consulting Group has expertise in many different industries and can help your employees adopt and adapt to a new production approach more seamlessly than going about it on your own. Contact us today to learn how we can help.
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Digital technologies have revolutionized the world in countless ways. From the items people wear to the devices they keep in their pockets, there’s no question that the digital transformation is in full effect. In fact, it’s estimated that 85% of Americans today use products with digital and/or artificial intelligence elements on a daily basis, according to recent Gallup polling.
It’s the frequency with which advanced digital technologies are used that has forced many companies to recast themselves as digital businesses. They’ve done this both to keep up with the times and to improve the overall customer experience. However, implementing a transformation strategy is much easier said than done, especially for industries that have grown accustomed to legacy systems.
A digital transformation consultant, however, can make the transition a great deal easier. What should you look for in one? What do they actually do? In what industries are digital transformation consulting services most relevant? This article will help you better understand how your company can become an authentic digital business.
What does a digital transformation consultant do?
A digital transformation consultant is akin to any other consultant, in that they aim to make work processes go more smoothly from start to finish. But specifically, digital transformation consultants enhance the technological components of running a business. This may be evidenced by concentrating on where technology is already deployed, or where it ought to be in order to enhance the customer experience and provide a better product or service.
How has digital affected certain industries?
Although just about every business has been impacted by digital in some way, certain industries have experienced it more acutely than others. Chief among them is financial services, particularly retail banking. Gone are the days when people had to see a bank teller to get checks cashed or withdraw cash from their savings accounts. ATMs make this possible. Of course ATMs have been around for decades — more than 50 years, in fact — but many of them are now optimized with various features that make the customer experience even more convenient, by dispensing dollars in multiple denominations and offering cash recycling services, among many others. Digital transformation consultants have enabled banks and branches to better determine where and how state-of-the-art technologies may be best deployed to improve operability and enhance functionality.
“From the items people wear to the devices they keep in their pockets, there’s no question that the digital transformation is in full effect.“
An industry where digital technologies are on the rise is in food and beverage manufacturing. According to a recent report by ING, digitalization is one of the top promising applications in food technology. An example of digitalization within food manufacturing is IoT, specifically the interconnectivity of shop floor machines to PCs. The connection allows for both better traceability of product but also better control — processes can be inspected and reviewed remotely and often in real time. With strict quality requirements for food products, the move toward digitalization has helped organizations in the food manufacturing industry maintain those standards while keeping processes efficient.
Is digital always the solution?
While digital technologies are designed to make work processes run more smoothly so customers get a better product or service, it’s not necessarily a fail-safe. People — both customers and personnel — tend to be creatures of habit and may not find favor with major changes in processes. Computer-aided design and manufacturing is helping more factories improve production through advanced automation for repeatable, by-the-book work processes. However, employers still need personnel there to actually work this technology to ensure it performs seamlessly. With the sector experiencing a shortage in high-skilled labor, businesses must train workers on how to work digital technologies to avoid production declines that may result from unfilled positions.
With technologies constantly improving, digital transformation consulting is something that an increasing number of business owners will seek out in order to become better and obtain a competitive advantage over rival companies. Here are a few things you should look for in order to make sure a digital transformation consultant has your best interests in mind:
What a good digital transformation consultant does
- Does their homework – No matter how long you’ve been in business, a digital transformation consultant should take the time to know what you do and why you do it. It’s never been easier for them to do that thanks to online resources, but even if this wasn’t the case, their taking the time to learn your business is pivotal because no two digital transformation solutions are the same. What may work for one company may not work for you. A consultant will likely want to discuss how your company got off the ground in order to design the best digital strategy.
- Values your people – A digital transformation strategy can’t work without having the right people in place. Some fear that technology, specifically AI, will cost them their jobs, when it’s actually designed to make better use of personnel so they can be redeployed in a manner that makes the best use of their strengths. A good digital transformation consultant should consider people every bit as important as the process.
- Offer solutions for change management – Change is never easy, even when it’s for the better. A truly competent digital transformation consultant will be able to offer insight on how to implement a change management protocol so the transition is seamless and as turbulent free as possible.
No matter what industry you’re operating in, the digital transformation consulting experts at USC Consulting Group can provide your business with the tools, technology, and tactics you need not just to survive, but thrive. Contact us to learn more.
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