If time travel was possible, and a person from 100 years ago was transported to present day, what do you think they would find the most surprising?
Probably, everything. Because everything has changed.
In business, companies succeed (or fail) based on their ability to not just evolve but transform. This idea of transformation is incredibly powerful – that’s nothing new – but it’s also incredibly challenging to both have the vision and ability to execute at scale.
The industrial market is global and competitive, with complexities no one person can grasp. Yet, the idea of digital transformation is to find opportunities that lie not only within your current market, but also (more importantly) the future marketplace.
Through digital transformation, enterprises are capitalizing on digital technologies to defend and advance their competitive advantage. Product and service innovation is not only enabled but accelerated; enterprises are able to develop new products, services, and business models to better serve the needs of existing customers and expand to new markets.
In our research and conversations with customers and partners, there are three macro trends driving industrial disruption in 2019: worker shortage, risk and cost pressure, and digital disruption.
These large-scale issues are not solved with one-and-done solutions. They require a holistic, solution-based approach that leverages the latest in technology within the context of industrial needs and challenges.
Let’s look at three specific business outcomes motivating enterprises to pursue digital transformation, including some real-world examples:
Influenced by the likes of Amazon and Apple, customers – no matter the industry – are looking for personalized experiences, customizable products, and exceptional service.
However, many industrial enterprises struggle with siloed operations and lack visibility into their processes, products, and people. Breaking down these siloes, with cross-departmental cooperation and connected technologies, like industrial IoT (IIoT) and augmented reality, are enabling enterprises to have the insights necessary to drive real change within their organizations.
Here’s a quick look at what’s possible:
With a focus on these business outcomes, digital transformation opens opportunities to improve customer success, deliver differentiated value via product performance and proactive service, and reduce overall costs.
Real-World Example: At Howden, a manufacturer of industrial products, developing a data-driven advantage was a key initiative of their growth strategy. One of the goals was to build collaborative partnerships with customers to improve long-term success while differentiating their product and after-market service offerings.
There were two critical pieces to this transformation, one was gathering insight into their equipment throughout the product lifecycle, and two, delivering that information to the customer in a visual and easily understandable way.
Starting with smart, connected products, Howden was able to implement an augmented reality solution that provided customers with the necessary insights from IoT that could be used to improve performance and operational efficiencies.
With this innovation, customers avoid the challenges and costs associated with unplanned downtime and better align overall maintenance strategies—which were previously based only on conjecture and after the-fact analysis. On the service end, there’s been a vast improvement in time of response and customer satisfaction.
Optimizing the manufacturing process is not a new idea. Identifying ways to improve operational efficiency, reduce manufacturing costs, increase worker safety, accelerate time to market, and ensure quality and compliance, are pillars of the industry.
With digital transformation, the journey to these goals are accelerated and can lead to new opportunities.
Real-World Example: Woodward, Inc. is the world’s oldest and largest independent designer, manufacturer, and service provider of control systems and control system components for the aerospace and industrial markets.
A frequent issue that Woodward faced was anytime a process error occurred and the PLM or ERP systems became out of sync, employees would spend valuable time working to resync databases across the organization, greatly impacting productivity.
Building on installations of CAD and PLM software, Woodward leveraged an industrial IoT solution that provides standard work and visual management in the operations environment, completely integrated with their automated manufacturing equipment, allowing for seamless communication between machines.
Woodward is also utilizing the solution for employee training and certification tracking to ensure all members are certified before allowing operations to be completed.
The automated data capabilities within the IoT solution gives employees access to all information needed—including work instructions and inspection requirements—tailored to their unique business unit or geography.
In product design, every change and iteration matters; it costs time and money, but it is a necessary process to get a high-quality result. The creation of a seamless data and model centric workflow that enables data-driven decisions to be made through the design and manufacturing process enables enterprises to innovate quickly.
Real-World Example: Taking a step-by-step approach to digital transformation, Polaris has been able to implement significant changes to the way their employees design, build, and sell high-quality vehicles. They’ve extended enterprise PLM through cutting-edge technologies, such as augmented reality and role-based applications, to enable faster collaboration across the organization and advance the design and performance of their products.
With digital transformation, industrial enterprises are looking for more than efficiencies and increased productivity, they’re looking to unlock new opportunities – for growth, for revenue, and for entirely new avenues of business.
The status quo is no longer an option for the enterprise that wants to remain competitive in the market and relevant to customers. Start-ups, giants in other industries, as well as traditional competitors, are crowding the field looking to take (your company’s) market share.
Leveraging technologies to nurture product and service innovation, enable manufacturing efficiencies, and promote agility throughout the value chain, are three critical business outcomes enterprises can achieve through digital transformation.
Nancy White is the content marketing manager for the Corporate Brand team at PTC. A journalist turned content marketer, she has a diverse writing background—from Fortune 500 companies to community newspapers—that spans more than a decade.