3 Must-Haves for Digital Thread Implementation

Written By: Molly Isadora Sadoff
  • 7/21/2021
  • Read Time : 2 min

Industry leaders list a digital thread initiative as high on their list of priorities. With the technology available to accomplish digital threads, there is a growing need for more guidance on strategy and implementation. With an exclusive survey of industry leaders combined with real-world experience, our latest research report State of Digital Thread outlines three must-haves for a digital thread implementation.

1. Identify and address the data gaps across the value chain.

First, enterprises must confront their data gap. The survey uncovered that:

  • 74% of leaders cite improving their ability to leverage data across the enterprise as “effective or highly effective” at addressing disruption
  • Less than 34% say data created within their department is widely available within their enterprise systems
  • Data availability continues to drop to 16% for company data outside their department
  • Further dropping to 9% for data from customers or products in the field
  • And continues dropping to 8% for data from suppliers.

The lack of accessibility to this data suggests a huge gap between perceived and realized value of data – and reveals risks and missed opportunities. For example, connecting assets in the factory and field via IoT enables insights into how products are used out in the wild. This data could then be used to improve design, function, and engineering.

Another data gap is within the product definition - establishing a digital foundation in engineering via PLM to unify the product definition across disparate tools helps to connect cross-functional teams and utilize the data to make changes across the company. As enterprises confront their data gap, they must also recognize that the shortcoming of information is most often tied to traditional silos of systems which impede cross-organizational coordination.

2. Break down siloed systems.

Second, recognizing siloed systems and their pain points are imperative to moving forward with digital thread implementation.

We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. This is the case with siloed enterprise systems. Change is hard, but incredible potential is unlocked when information is more readily accessible across functions. These siloed systems of information and the processes that result from them do not keep pace with innovation, expectations of quality, efficiency and speed.

The top data challenges within traditional silos of information are:

  • Duplicated efforts – manually transferring information between departments and systems can be time consuming and error prone. It takes a tremendous amount of time to manually bring data through different systems and accommodate for the adaptation of data.
  • Multiple sources of truth – with data duplicated through systems and departments, there are multiple sources of truth leading to many opportunities for misalignment of goals and activities throughout the company.
  • Data inaccessibility – siloed systems lead to data breakdown. Without the proper access to information throughout the company, teams do not have timely access to the data that can improve decision making.

The pain points of a traditional silo of information can only be resolved with a full digital thread. Bringing this information across systems involves identifying and creating cross-functional connections that unlock value for the business.

Organizing existing silos of product information across the value chain to create visibility into the data includes:

  • Connecting assets in the factory and field
  • Establishing a strong digital foundation in engineering to unify disparate tools, methods and processes
  • Establishing a single source of truth in the product definition with governance and traceability

3. Close the loop with digital thread.

A true digital thread creates a “closed loop” between the digital and physical worlds. Although this is a daunting task, organizations that can connect their physical world to their digital processes can distill the process down to pertinent information to make decisions. By analyzing, managing and communicating information in a digital sense, companies can make faster and more accurate decisions based around the data.

Closing the loop with the digital thread tactically means:
  • Connecting the intersection points between functions and departments to propagate information across traditional boundaries to facilitate collaboration.
  • Connecting the physical back to digital – this requires instituting new processes that include continuous feedback between traditionally disparate groups.

Organizations who achieve a holistic digital thread can connect the entire product lifecycle and extend it outwards to suppliers, customers, products and people in the field also empowering their employees at every level with actionable intelligence that is easily consumable.

The State of Digital Thread

Learn how companies are closing the loop between digital and physical.

  • Digital Transformation
  • Augmented Reality
  • Digital Thread
  • PLM
  • Industrial Internet of Things

About the Author

Molly Isadora Sadoff

Molly Isadora Sadoff is a project manager for Corporate Marketing at PTC. She started with the company in 2019, working on the Global Partner Marketing team, where she collaborated cross functionally with internal teams to design, develop, and manage global marketing programs. Molly previously worked for several life sciences startups running their events strategy and programs. She is a graduate of the University of Hartford and in her free time enjoys hiking, kayaking and adventuring with her dog, Henrietta.