Author: Alberto López de Biñaspre, CEO of Lantek
As well as the immediate, and truly complex, challenges that industry is facing, there are others that are deep-rooted and have contributed to the progress of the most innovative companies with regard to products, processes and business models: digital transformation and internationalization. And, now, in the uncertain times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening these companies is even more crucial, basing the strategy on these two pillars.
During this crisis, we have witnessed how, in almost all aspects of our private and personal life, an acceleration in digital transformation has occurred. Equally, in industry, it’s becoming fundamental as a lever for competitiveness. Only digitized companies will be able to adapt their production in an agile manner, as they will be able to anticipate patterns in both the supply and the demand. Subsequently, we must place value on this Big Data that we talk about so much, but that we find hard to use to our best advantage. Artificial Intelligence associated with the use of analytical tools will allow us to utilize all of the information that emanates from our plants and businesses, making it useful for decision-making. Using intelligent solutions will allow us to be better prepared when faced with overload situations, stock alterations, machine availability or any other incident that may occur and alter our productive capacity. Industrial software is increasingly becoming a fundamental and core part of this process of digital transformation.
In the context generated by the pandemic, the internationalization of our companies has been key, right from the beginning of the crisis, to give us a global perspective and a more holistic vision of what is happening so that we can prepare ourselves as much as possible. For years, we have seen very different models and interpretations of this internationalization.
Among them, the globalization model, which had been considered a competitive advantage but, following the shortage caused by COVID-19, is now an axiom that is being questioned and which requires deep reflection. Reliance on the "factory of the world" has turned out to be a weakness because, as we have seen, concentrating the supply in distant ecosystems can cause substantial tensions in terms of the demand if there’s not enough planning capacity. This doesn’t necessarily mean withdrawing completely, but simply focusing on diversifying, balancing and enhancing localization. Subsequently, it’s important to develop a strong industrial structure that is close to the end client, while still strengthening strategies of internationalization based on new digital models.
Our only option is to be proactive but, at the same time, cautious, as returning to normality doesn’t mean going back to the same starting point as before lockdown, and certainly not doing so in a universal and orchestrated way. Breaking free of these restrictions will most probably happen at different speeds, in different ways and phases on a global scale, as we are already seeing, and we will also have to adapt our production rate to this. Once again, digitization and internationalization will be pivotal in doing this successfully.
Without a shadow of a doubt, COVID-19 has become a disruptive element, a catalyst for change and business transformation. Everything is happening at tremendous speed and a good part of the industrial structure is rising to the task, testing its ability to accelerate this change. What we once predicted for the next five years is now happening much faster and the future is at the forefront of all of our minds. Our obligation is to do all this while also being sustainable, adapting to the new challenges that arise. This is, therefore, the time to begin building a sustainable future together in order to start again.
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