Digital Transformation is happening – Don’t get left behind

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Written by
Michael Bird

Digital transformation is here, and it will affect everything we do.

Digital transformation is happening – markets are changing and we’re seeing business models shift – the world’s biggest personnel transportation company owns no vehicles (Uber), Airbnb has no real estate. Blockbuster had revenues of $3.25 billion in 2010, employing 25,000 – it now has only one store. Netflix’s 2010 revenue was $2.1 billion, with 18 million users – in 2019 it was $20 billion and had 167 million users. Digital transformation is here, and it will affect everything we do. Organizations that cannot adapt, that do not have a strategy and are unable to transform are at risk of becoming the next Blockbuster.

Digital Transformation is happening – Don’t Get Left Behind.

Gartner defines Digital Transformation as: ‘‘Digital transformation can refer to anything from IT modernization (for example, cloud computing), to digital optimization, to the invention of new digital business models.’’ The term is widely used in public-sector organizations to refer to modest initiatives such as putting services online or legacy modernization. Thus, the term is more like “digitization” than “digital business transformation.” Product lifecycle management or PLM is a term that has existed for 25 years or more – long before the idea of digital transformation – and the term has lots of different meanings, depending on the business in which it is implemented. Within many organizations, it is considered to be a tool for managing engineering data – this could be considered a failure of marketing in PLM’s infancy when many vendors positioned PLM as a tool for storing CAD data.

Product Lifecycle Management is so much more – PLM is digital transformation.

PLM should be thought of as a suite of tools that allow organizations to manage their business processes and data – providing rich product information to its users when required throughout the lifecycle of its products. PLM is more than any one piece of software and in many businesses, it is spread over multiple applications. Product Lifecycle Management is the digital backbone – maintaining a digital thread of information from product conceptualization through design, realization and servicing. The PLM tool that you implement should manage the definition of your product – it should be the central repository of product data. It should be your product’s single source of truth. PLM systems are object-orientated – it’s inherent within their design – PLM virtually captures the definition of your product, through visualization, composition, documentation and design. Furthermore, PLM manages the processes associated with your product, managing and capturing the decision making.

PLM is the virtual representation of your product. It is your what, when, how and why.

Where do I start?

Don’t start with where – start with why. Why embark on the digital transformation at all, why is it required? There should be absolute clarity at the outset about your reasons for transformation. There should be high-level aims. Forget about software, concentrate on what your business needs – leadership is the key to success; digital transformation must be driven from the top but with a vision that all can see. Once your reasons for transformation are understood then you can start to examine how your business needs to change. If you have understood that consumers require your product to arrive quicker, then shortening your time-to-market is how your organization needs to adapt. If your why has led you to reduce waste, then reducing scrap and rework is how you should be changing. Understand why you should change and then examine how that impacts your business. Finally, you should answer what needs to transform. What must the business do, the action, to realize the change? If there is clarity about why and how then what should be clear – it is a result of what has already been decided. If you’re attempting to reduce scrappage and rework then what you do, maybe, to better enable your shop floor staff – providing digital work instructions, drawings and product visualization.

Now look at the technology

How can the PLM software out there support what your business needs? And it’s not just about software – you’ll need to consider who will implement the software. A services provider? A reseller? A specialist contractor? Who implements the software (and their ability, experience & skill) is arguably as important as the capability of the software that you’ve selected. Invite software vendors to tender. You know your why, you know your how, ask the vendor to demonstrate their what. What can their software do to support your digital transformation?

Contact a digital expert to find out how IoT can help your business through digital transformation.

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