Mar 31, 2021

Infor: digital transformation success in manufacturing

Georgia Wilson
3 min
digital transformation in manufacturing
Infor’s Phil Lewis identified three questions manufacturers should address to achieve success in digital transformation...

Speaking at the ‘Future Factories Summit’ in Dubai, Phil Lewis, VP Solution Consulting EMEA, Infor detailed key insights on how manufacturers can successfully digitally transform their operations.

Three questions to address to achieve success in digital transformation

Prior to taking on the complex journey of digital transformation, Lewis explained that organisations should step back and ask themselves three questions:

1. Is the organisation ready for significant change?

“Organisations are only as good as their people, and manufacturers must look carefully at whether they have the right people and culture to support a different way of doing things,” said Lewis.

Ultimately it is people in the organisation that will be implementing the change so they need to be committed and onboard with the plans. Therefore it is important for organisations to encourage a culture of openness that allows employees to step forward with their ideas. 

“An organisation’s culture can make or break a digital transformation project and ‘Organisational Change Management’ is one of the key components of such a project. Organisations should aim for an inclusive culture where people feel like they are key contributors to the company’s future success,” added Lewis.

2. What is the desired outcome?

“Delivering successful digital transformation projects is difficult, and if an organisation does not understand the destination, the chances of success are minimal,” commented Lewis.

With this in mind, Lewis explains that it is therefore important to invest time and effort upfront to understand what the organisation wants to achieve from the digital transformation. “It is wise to ask the following questions: What do we need to change? Why do we need to change it, and what is the anticipated impact?” he added.

Regardless of what digital transformation ideas an organisation may have, Lewis states that they will fall into one of four categories customer alignment, employee productivity, supply chain visibility, or operational efficiency.

“Infor helps customers around the world and across various industries to successfully ideate, design and deliver digital change, and understanding the outcome of a project is an important early step.”

3. Is the system landscape digitally compliant and ready? 

“Before starting a digital transformation project, an organisation’s systems should be digitally compliant and highly flexible. Ideally, the organisation has a systems ecosystem where people can access their work, their data, and their processes without barriers, at any time, and from any location,” said Lewis, who explains that cloud is often the best solution to achieve this.

Lewis also added that organisations can also benefit from solutions built specifically for their industry with sector specific capabilities built-in instead of added on. “Heavily modified applications will almost certainly impede upgrades and modernization, introduce risk, and hinder adoption of advanced digital solutions,” added Lewis.

Finally Lewis concluded that an organisation’s end-to-end systems and applications should run on a common digital platform that have IoT, AI, machine learning, big data, mobility and predictive analytics capabilities. 

“In today’s world, an organisation’s IT landscape must support the concept of hyper-connectivity – not just connecting applications and digital capability, but connecting everything: Their people, applications, devices, data, customers, and suppliers,” said Lewis.

For more information on manufacturing topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Manufacturing Global.

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May 12, 2021

Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers

2 min
57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support smart manufacturing digitalisation

With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.

While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.

“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.

“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”

Change Management

Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.

“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.

Technology and People

While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.

“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.

Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.

Discover Gartner's Five Best Practices for Post COVID-19 Innovation' in manufacturing.

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