The Digital Maturity Curve for Manufacturers – Where Do You Stand?

Aug 28, 2018 7:06:06 AM / by Sam Reddy


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The manufacturing industry is undergoing a digital transformation. But not all companies are transitioning in the same way or at the same speed. Remember, digital transformation is not a destination. It is a journey that will constantly be evolving as new technologies, ways of doing things, and business models are introduced.

As a result, every manufacturer is somewhere along the digital maturity curve. To help you evaluate where you stand on this curve, from digital laggard to digital leader, this blog will explain four of the key attributes that enable digital transformation. By understanding what digital leaders do differently, you’ll be able to take action to advance your business, find new revenue streams, and improve operational efficiencies.


Attribute 1 – Digital Leaders Enable Collaboration

There’s one attribute that is consistent across digitally mature manufacturing companies. They have made an intentional effort to rethink their organizational culture and change the way that work gets done. Digital leaders are more collaborative in nature. They have developed cross-functional teams that are able to solve more complex problems, and they understand the impact of decisions across departments. They have torn down information silos to make data and business insights available to people when they are making decisions, in real-time, and changed the way strategic decisions are made.

In fact, 54 percent of digitally maturing companies are pushing decision making further into their organizations, compared to only 22 percent of digital laggards. At the same time, 70 percent of these digital leaders are increasingly organized around cross-functional teams.
As you evaluate where you currently stand, take a close look at how your organization is structured. If it is still highly siloed and departmentalized, you should begin looking at strategies to encourage collaboration and openness among teams and functional areas.

Attribute 2 – Digital Leaders Hire the Right People

The digital factory of the future requires an entirely different set of skills and experiences. Workers will be side by side with advanced robotics, interpreting real-time data to make decisions, and working in more varied environments. Problem solving, data analytics, and strategic thinking will all become more valuable as your organization matures.

Digital leaders have identified this need and are changing their hiring practices to bring in the right people, both on the shop floor and in executive and managerial level positions. They are also investing in training and development opportunities to continue to improve the skills of their workforce and prepare them for the changes ahead.

Understand what skills will be needed for your digital future, and start investing in them today. Once you’ve built a solid foundation, it will be easier to attract other people with complementary skillsets and build your team around the digital future.

Attribute 3 – Digital Leaders are Willing to Take Risks

Investing in new technologies, operational improvements, or organizational models is a risky proposition. There’s a chance that the time, money, and resources you invest will not provide the results you are looking for. Your willingness to take risks and experiment is key to your ability to transform your business.

The most digitally mature companies have a strategy in place to experiment on a suitable scale, evaluate the results against a set of metrics and business objectives, and make decisions on whether to implement the experiment at a larger scale or try something new. More than 70 percent of digitally maturing manufacturers have accepted the risk of failure, compared to 29 percent of laggards.

How do you treat innovation? Are you willing to try new things and accept the risk, or do you need to see other companies successfully implement these innovations first before considering them for yourself? Your answer to these questions will help you understand where you fit on the digital maturity curve.

Attribute 4 – Digital Leaders Think Long-Term

Digital transformation is a long-term initiative. It requires being able to look into the future and anticipate new technologies and new ways of doing things. Short-term thinking, on the other hand, is simply reactionary and makes it extremely difficult to advance along the digital maturity curve.

The most mature manufacturing companies have a digital strategy that’s at least 5 years into the future. They have a vision of what they want their business to look like, and are taking steps to achieve this by implementing new technologies or processes. For example, companies that want to be able to provide more personalized products to customers are already taking steps to be able to fulfill this demand. In contrast, only 19 percent of early stage digital laggards have a digital strategy in place.

What is your horizon for strategic decisions and investments? How long into the future are you looking? Do you understand not only how your business makes money now, but how it will make money 5 years in the future? And if those business models look different, do you understand how to move from where you are now to where you need to be?

Digital Transformation is a Journey That Begins Today

No manufacturing company will ever reach the end of the digital transformation journey. But already, leading companies have separated themselves from the digital laggards to find new competitive advantages, revenue opportunities, operational efficiencies, and business models. Understanding what makes these companies able to achieve these results will help you identify where you currently stand and what you need to do to close the gap and become a digital leader in your own right.
By embracing collaboration and openness within your organization, hiring and developing the right skills, taking calculated risks, and implementing a long-term digital strategy, you will be able to transform your business into one that is able to reap the full rewards of the digital revolution.

See where you stand. Take our 2 minute assessment to see how digitally savvy you are compared to the competition.

Start the Survey Now


Topics: digital transformation, manufacturing, Digital Maturity, data analytics

Sam Reddy

Written by Sam Reddy

Digital Transformation-Know your maturity score

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