The premier digital transformation event LiveWorx took virtual form this year, delivering four survival skills to help industrial enterprises thrive in the "new normal." among several other thought-provoking ideas and industrial innovations on display.
During the show, PTC President & CEO Jim Heppelmann delivered a high-impact virtual keynote ‘Disrupted: Lessons Learned and the Path Forward’. Here is a summary of the four skills industrial enterprises need to thrive in the new normal:
Many organizations’ IT infrastructure were under prepared for the massive workforce shift to remote work caused from the COVID-19 crisis. Seventy-five percent of organizations immediately shifted to work-from-home policies and 41% reported a strain on internal IT resources as a result.
While IT departments are seeking short-term patches to manage this crisis, a long-term strategy for a resilient and mobile workforce is needed. This new forced method of working has let the "genie out of the bottle," as 74% of CFOs report they will move at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions post COVID-19.
Many cloud and SaaS-based tools have allowed for a seamless transition to remote work for certain functions. For example, SaaS tools already dominant in enterprise software such as CRM, HCM, and ERP have enabled workers in those related functions to work from home with little or no difficulty.
However, product development tools remain largely on-premises today. This is poised to quickly change; IDC predicts by 2022, 70% of manufacturers will use cloud-based innovation platforms and marketplaces for cross-industry and customer co-development.
In his presentation, Heppelmann outlined three companies already taking advantage of the benefits of cloud and SaaS software to enable their product development process with remote and geographically dispersed engineering teams.
Supply chains are remarkably complex, which challenges manufacturing production flexibility, especially in times of crisis or disruption. Global manufacturers like automakers have, on average, 500 tier-one suppliers, who each have 250 tier-two suppliers, creating a supply chain network of 1.25 million suppliers.
Today’s supply chains have to install and deploy the same version of the same software tools at each company in order to facilitate exchange of data. This means that upgrades must be coordinated simultaneously up and down the supply chain to keep everybody interoperable.
Quickly cross-exchanging design information to engineer, update, and manufacture products is burdened by this lack of interoperability and points to the need for a seamless digital thread to maintain continuity of information across the supply chain.
Heppelmann shared three more examples of how digital transformation enables flexible and innovative supply chains.
Around 75% or 2.7 billion of the global workforce is considered front-line or deskless workers. However, digital benefits have not historically benefited them; video conferencing software like Microsoft Teams and Zoom allows desk workers to collaborate on desktops, but front-line workers do their work in the physical world. However, this is quickly changing with augmented reality (AR).
With AR for remote assistance, front-line workers connect with remote experts for over-the-shoulder support to collaborate in real-time and quickly solve complex problems. AR can publish content such as training manuals or work instructions onto real-world objects and places for the worker to absorb in-context to their work environment and task at hand. AR can capture how-to information such as service procedures and map it to the real world.
Industrial companies have begun to empower their front-line workers with digital capabilities and AR is their chosen technology to do so:
Downtime costs industrial companies thousands per hour. However, COVID-19 restricted access to an array of industrial assets, whether in a factory or hospital, with 81% of companies implementing travel bans and 46% issuing mandatory restrictions on employee contact in the workspace.
Remote monitoring of products and factories allows companies to continue operations despite work from home, travel bans, quarantined areas, and limited staff. Remote capabilities were critical in the wake of the crisis for improving uptime in critical environments, but they also save massive labor and asset costs from technician travel and downtime, and they transform the relationship with customers.
By implementing the above four skills, industrial companies can thrive during these uncertain and challenging times.
During his keynote, Heppelmann shared a dozen examples of leading industrial companies that have leveraged digital technologies like SaaS to enable resiliency and mobility across their knowledge workers, and flexibility across design, supply chain, and manufacturing. We saw how AR is being used to enable front-line workers to collaborate in new ways to improve productivity. And we saw how IoT combined with AI enables factories and product fleets to achieve double digit improvements in their operations, at times saving both money and lives.
Now it is time to take stock of what has worked and what has not during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to think beyond necessity, to leverage these four skills for business advantage going forward.