This is the computer era. Few industries are shaping world, but none as much as computers and technology around them. Learning physics today hasn’t been changed for decades, with the mechanics is the same. But what moves industry forward are genetics, biology and especially computers. In fact, computers are enabling development of science and society. Further more, if you would ask an experts who developed first computers, if they could give you an advice about data security or cloud computing, you would probably be astonished how unfamiliar with these issues these people would be. There is no chance that they could run conversation on deeper technical level.
So imagine an average top management of industrial company, who are competing on dangerously competitive markets. Prices of materials are on their highest, supply chain is extremely inflexible and vulnerable and energy is threating to limit operations, no matter available financial resources.
“The only chance to stay competitive is to digitalise operations. Few organisations are realising this, but it is only a matter of time, when it will become mandatory in order to live and compete.”
And now, top management is evaluating if the company is capable or not, to take a step forward and support their business with information, faster decision making and time saving tools? Many would say that it’s not a necessity. But for now, we will leave those, because it is another topic about stepping out from their comfort zone and hiding behind their personal interests, chairs and personal fears. This paper would like to take a peak into those companies and their leaders, who have decided to go forward, but now they are taking different circumstances into consideration and for whom I personally have respectful understanding for reasons that are listed bellow.
Number one reason not to go digital is internal lack of knowledge. Since decision makers don’t understand new technologies, they have stronger beliefs that they stand on the edge of a cliff. Remember people from ’80 who invented computers and if they were competent to talk about IoT, data security or different protocols for communication. They are dinosaurs comparing with new startup companies, which started their business few years ago.
So, why don’t they get a consultant for digitalisation? Well, that’s the second reason. It is hard for people to let external people jump in the business and tackle their strategic issues and activities. In a matter of fact, the belief and trust are once again high bars to jump over. On the other side, hype about digitalisation is misused by all sort of consultants, because they are mystifying everything about digitalisation and charge high prices for their services. Usually, they can’t get through technology in the field and completely underway blue print and implementation. Sometimes I have a feeling, that they confuse and distract top management from real value for their business.
Third reason for staying away from digitalisation is that top management has right when thinking that a lot of consultants and tech companies are mystifying their knowledge solutions. Witnessing high prices and solutions architected far from being lean and scalable, I fully agree that the fear by top management is valid. We are seeing all kind of gateways, wires to connect, expensive cloud spaces, that are complete waste and create unnecessary expenditures. IoT devices should be affordable, stand alone devices which communicate directly with their platforms for collecting data.
As the fourth reason, I would say that expectations set are usually very high. Higher than capability of company to acquire. Africa skipped entire telephone era, jumping directly on cell phones usage, but it doesn’t mean that industry in Africa also acquired solution for online parking ticket service, which is available through cell phone usage. Simply said, companies which never managed to create culture and infrastructure for some processes, shouldn’t pursue solving all of them with first attempt to digitalise certain processes. One of the best examples would be, if nearby regular monitoring, companies would immediately start with automatic “Six sigma” or similar Lean tools, for the non conformities the system is recording. In Topteep MES, we advice our clients to set their digital strategy into road map which is to be implemented in few steps and not with the basic solutions that solve 70% of problematic issues in processes and companies.
Significant number of companies simply don’t want to be early adopters. This fifth reason has two sides of the medal. On one side, the best companies to do the business of digitalisation are only few years old. Older companies have that curse, that their knowledge and solution is outdated, they can’t shift on new architectures and above everything, they invested in their outdated solutions and now, they want to profit from it. So, young companies are missing references in order to support their reputation of being enough competent and good for businesses they are serving.
As the sixth reason, it is necessary to mention financials and ROI. It is not about absolute amount of financial resources that have to be invested, but about not understanding fully what is going to be solved. Take a look into SAP, many companies would consider it as expensive solution, additional people to hire in order to maintain it. Few are considering hidden profits that is gained from SAP implementation, especially when pairing it with Manufacturing Execution System (MES) / Manufacturing Operation System (MOM), so business intelligence enables deeper analytics of business at all.
“Business excellence and digitalisation are flesh and bone. There is no chance to stay competitive in coming days if staying away from digital solutions and if not integrating them with different environments.”
Many companies are investing in the industrial IoT in order to collect accurate data, collect them fast and on a convenient way, so the information is valuable. Make sure to catch the ride and find your place on an already full train that just went off the station.