Conferences, forums, articles...regardless of where, time and again they all focus on the advantages of digitizing a factory. We want to be more productive, more cost-efficient, creators of quality jobs, all of which is wonderful, however...how can I apply this to my business, how do I implement it in my factory? Should I start to buy robots? Should I install sensors all over the place? It’s not important to analyze all the new technologies, the most important thing is that we see everything as a whole and how this impacts on my business.
Article by Alberto Martínez, CEO of Lantek
Obviously, we have to first of all understand that digital transformation is not an objective, but rather a means to getting further ahead. Once this has been grasped, we have to draw up a roadmap, a digital strategy that enables us to reach the destination we’re heading for. We’ll summarize it in five steps.
1. Perform a digital due diligence. Analyze your company and decide which processes can improve with digitization, what the enablers are (big data, cloud, data analytics, IoT, etc.) that can give you a sustainable competitive advantage in the future. Select the areas, processes or functions that can be more interesting to digitize for your business. To this end, we have to know what technology offers us and know what it allows us to do in our business at any time. Not everything has to be subject to transformation, nor be done at the same time. It’s easier to embrace change if it’s done little by little, by projects, both from a financial and human perspective.
2. Prepare and attract talent. In today’s climate we have to constantly update ourselves on the new technologies coming into our lives. This change is not just about gadgets and disruptive tools, it’s cultural as well. People have to be retrained and, as companies, we have to do our bit to help them. Technology allows disruption, however it’s people who bring it about. Moreover, an innovative and modern company attracts talent from new generations who want to contribute new ideas and working models.
3. Make the customer the center of attention. Today’s consumer is also different. He wants what he needs, as opposed to “one size fits all”, he wants his customized product, with its specific features and he wants it at just the right time; no sooner, no later. Perhaps we should design different factories, more modular and with the necessary flexibility to adapt to à la carte orders and our customers’ needs, or perhaps we have to design new business models which allow us to meet our target earlier, or better, for both today’s and tomorrow’s customers.
4. Organizational culture. Another of the important changes that comes with this Digital Revolution is related to organizational structures. The way of working imposes less hierarchical models where decisions can be taken more efficiently and where people develop all their innovation and creativity capacity.
5. Co-creation. Moreover, Industry 4.0 presents us with a new collaborative paradigm. We cannot transform ourselves without the help of third parties. Better partners have to be sought for each project, followed by teamwork towards digitization because all of us, including driver companies, are interested in getting on the same train.
As I mentioned at the start, all of this cannot be achieved without a coherent digital strategy, designed by a professional with digital expertise and knowledge of the industry. This refers to adding a digital manager to the organizational chart who, in conjunction with Management, can take the best decisions to provide the company with intelligence.
An initial contact can be found through help programs for SMEs that are being launched on a governmental level where a 4.0 consultant is even assigned. There are also diagnostic tools for measuring a business’s digital degree of maturity.
In a country such as ours, where only 20% of the business fabric is digitized, work has to be started right now. It’s true that changes always have elements of uncertainty, however they have to be made if we don’t want to be left behind. This resistance, this aversion to risk, has to be overcome because if we don’t transform our businesses digitally, we’ll be unable to compete, we won’t grow and we’ll end up shutting down. We can’t just wait for things to happen, to see how the competition does it. We have to be pioneers in taking the leap to be the first past the finishing line.