ARTICLE

3 gaps to fill before Industry 4.0

Digital transformation is complicated and expensive. Industry 4.0 can be an all-around daunting undertaking. 

Even so, more and more manufacturers are digitizing their plants, embracing IIoT, and shifting to data-driven operations. Manufacturing as a whole is moving farther along the Industry 4.0 path. To remain competitive and retain market share, it’s not a question of if your organization will undergo digital transformation—but when. 

Determining how and where to start the process is equally overwhelming. Do you go all-in or do you transform in stages? How do you choose a vendor? Which part of your operations do you digitize first? Do you build or buy your applications? How long will all this take?!

There’s a lot to plan for when it comes to digital transformation However, even before tech comes on the scene, you can take critical first steps to ensure your project’s success.

Prepping your organization for digital transformation seems like a logical first step, but it’s one that many organizations neglect and one that can severely sabotage your transformation’s success. 

Here are three critical gaps to address that prepare your teams for Industry 4.0, boost your project’s success rate, and require no outside resources.

Strategy gap

Leading from the top

Digital transformation is a seismic organizational shift. As with any ground-shaking disturbance, it’s going to evoke discomfort, resistance, and uncertainty throughout the entire company. Workers will naturally look to the executive team for guidance. Which brings us to the first gap to fill before digital transformation: 

Is the executive team aligned and presenting a united front?

Successfully navigating change requires strong leadership. Executives need to anticipate and prepare for the discomfort associated with moving to a data-centric culture. Any discord in the executive team can  trickle down to the rest of the organization. This could hinder the adoption of Industry 4.0 tools, strategies, and new ways of working. 

industry-4.0-digital-transformation

All it takes is one or two executives exhibiting negativity—or even neutral enthusiasm—for doubt and skepticism to seep all the way down through your organization. By presenting a consistent, unified transformation strategy, the executive team can get everyone on the same page, mitigate the project’s inherent discord, and facilitate a corporate shift to the Industry 4.0 mindset. 

Data gap

Get the data you need for Industry 4.0

Moving to a data-driven landscape unlocks incredible business potential. When starting digital transformation, it’s easy for decision-makers to focus on the future possibilities and forget to take stock of today’s reality. For digital transformation to be successful, it needs to improve current conditions first. To ensure your project gets off to a solid start, work with teams to determine the second gap:

What data do your teams need but don’t currently have?

Why is this data necessary for solving problems?

Identifying and understanding your existing data gaps is critical. This knowledge can help determine your organization’s greatest needs. Pinpointing specific problems and understanding what information is needed to reach solutions helps focus your transformation project. In turn, this makes it easier to vet solutions and choose vendors. 

Another good question to ask is what data can be automatically calculated? There are some instances where data may be missing but it can still be calculated. For example, 4.0 technologies make it easy to always have averages available at any given moment instead of having to continuously calculate averages. Automating these calculations can save teams a lot of time and make it easier to tell if the needle is moving in the right direction.

Addressing key data gaps also allows you to call on your best source of operations data: your teams. Including your workers in this process not only boosts their buy-in into digital transformation, it ensures you’re getting accurate, insightful information about what type of system will best benefit the end users of new technology solutions. 

Finally, identifying data gaps reveals another critical digital transformation component: connectivity. IIoT and smart technologies generate interconnected systems. They rely on infrastructure that facilitates connectivity. Addressing data gaps can help you better determine your company’s digital maturity before bringing in new technology. This gives you a heads-up on any infrastructure needs that might impede your transformation’s progress. 

Skills gap

Empowering your teams for Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 environments facilitate data democratization and empower workers to become Citizen Data Scientists—but only if your teams know how to use the technology correctly. As you navigate your digital transformation journey, remember to consider the third gap:

What do your employees need to learn to use the new Industry 4.0 tools?

Although many Industry 4.0 technologies and applications promise low-code/no-code, ease of use, you still need to determine what type of training your teams need to leverage the new tools.

industry 4.0 technologies help employees use tech through low code

Training has to focus on both the strategy behind the technology and how to use the technology itself. Will employees need training before the tech arrives, as it comes online, or both? How will they learn about upgrades and new features? How will you bring new hires up to speed?

Giving careful thought to your training plan does more than teach your teams how to operate in the new landscape. Training greatly boosts user confidence which, in turn, increases transformation acceptance. Training is an opportunity for workers to discover how data-driven systems empower them to work more effectively and efficiently. It gives workers space to learn, experiment, and adjust their mindset before the tech goes live. 

Some teams may not even be prepared for tool-specific training. They may need a primer on data literacy before diving in. Data literacy is the ability to understand and converse about data in meaningful ways, drawing particular attention to what data is revealing in the context of certain use cases. This is a learned skill that some employees may not have if they do not work with data on a regular basis. Consider whether or not early training on using and interpreting data can help employees get more comfortable moving to a data-driven approach. 

Remember: technology is a tool. It’s your workers who bring insight, creativity, and innovation to your operations and your business. The more educated they are about how to use the company’s data, the more ROI you’ll ultimately generate. 

Conclusion

Digital transformation is a future-forward decision. Digitizing creates an agile, responsive environment that supports your company through anticipated growth, unexpected events, and new developments. 

Looking at the project from a holistic point of view ensures that some possible gaps—in strategy, data, and skills—are adequately addressed and accounted for. The result? A successful digital transformation that moves your company and workers forward.

Plan for a successful digital transformation

It’s estimated nearly 70% of digital transformation efforts fail. How do manufacturers overcome this statistic? Learn why they fail and how to avoid it in this exclusive white paper.

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