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A Manufacturer's Struggle to Transform Digitally

By Christina Burnley | September 5, 2019

Industry 4.0 is here, and although not all businesses have unlocked the key to digital transformation, manufacturers throughout the industry feel its effects. With pressure to harness new technologies, digital systems, and entirely new business models, manufacturers may find themselves struggling with digital indigestion. 

Whether a company is large and resourceful, small and innovative, or the squeezed-middle, it’s an undeniable truth that manufacturers brave enough to innovate are favored. Once you’re ready to take steps toward transformation, your company will see an increase in market share and competitive positioning. 

Having decided you are ready for a digital transformation, it’s easy to take on too much in a desire to want to optimize everything at once. This is when the implementation process becomes crucial. Regardless of how many expendable resources a company has, taking on too much at once will quickly overload leadership. This will result in a standstill, halting all progress, and losing valuable time, money, and top talent. 

To prevent this, companies need a strategic plan in place to ensure a smooth transition. Rather than overhauling everything at once, it’s smart to start small with targeted projects.

But where to start? Many companies engaged in continuous improvements tend to focus the majority of efforts on the shop floor. Doing so will only go so far, putting a temporary band-aid on many of your company’s pain points. 

Rather than focus on the back end of your value stream, instead think about where it begins. Shift your focus on what impacts the customer experience the most: sales. Prioritizing the optimization of your sales process will drive all efficiencies downstream. The benefits you’ll gain on the front-end with customer interactions will benefit what happens in all back-end processes. 

In today’s digital age, companies need to think holistically. With a market oversaturated in competition, embracing digital transformation is critical for survival. But as you do, beware of the traps of taking on too much, or focusing on the wrong areas. Instead think smartly about the experiences you provide and in ways you can better satisfy your customers.

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