3 Fundamentals You Need to Win in the 4th Industrial Revolution

December 5, 2018 Justin Schmid

A close up of nuts, bolts, wires, with an overlay that says 3 Fundamentals You Need to Win in the 4th Industrial Revolution

With the advent of digital transformation in manufacturing, business and IT leaders are clamoring for new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), 3D platform printing, and the Internet of Things (IoT). As a result of the widespread excitement and high expectations of a tech-driven future, manufacturers are too often buying tools and platforms without having the right foundation to realize short- and long-term returns on their investments. 

At Appirio, we make digitizing business operations easier for manufacturers by eliminating complexity. We help our clients assess their existing systems and data repositories, refine their business needs, and put performance tracking metrics in place to ensure they're continuously improving and realizing value. 

Considering purchasing frontier technologies? 
Here are three key fundamentals to align your team and reach consensus:

Fundamental #1: Connected systems and unified data repositories should be the bedrock of your digital transformation. 

Do your finance, sales, and services team operate in different internal systems during their workday? 

Do these systems tie together through integration solutions? How often do you receive a file with the dreaded ‘version’ as part of the title? 

With 12+ years of system integration and implementation experience, we’re passionate about the promotion and development of integrated systems that support visibility, transparency, and ease of use. 

A unified back end is especially important when considering an IoT, big data, or AI investment. If the system does not extend across the full product lifecycle or purchasing cycle, the reporting and analytics that make connected devices and AI so beneficial won’t live up to their potential - and the business insights your team needs will remain siloed and unactionable. To make innovative investments without a unified system of truth is like wearing your new white shoes out in the rain - messy. 

Fundamental #2: Invest in systems and partners that support and understand your business needs. 

When evaluating the vendors and partners who could be part of your digital transformation, it’s key that they’re well-versed in the realities and difficulties of the manufacturing landscape -  not just knowledgeable about their own technologies or partners. 

Partners and vendors who build and deliver projects with the specific needs of manufacturers in mind will be more valuable in building business cases, operationalizing products and platforms, and measuring the return on your investment - because they’ve already done and mastered it. 
Which brings us to our third and last fundamental… 

Fundamental #3: Get rigorous about identifying and tracking key metrics. 

Technology investments are no longer made and kept by IT alone. Business leaders and teams need to stay curious about the technological landscape and find new ways to improve their daily work experiences and meet and exceed their goals by using the platforms and tools their company purchases. 

Active workshopping with sales, services, operations, and finance teams can help leaders and partners identify the desired movement on key metrics and how to report them accurately, accounting for externalities and people. Effectively demonstrating the value of technology investments to broader teams can be a game-changer for how well an investment is adopted and used - remember, the leading causes of implementation failure are people-based issues, not technology-based issues.1 

These fundamentals aren’t the exhaustive checklist for investing in a new technology platform, but they are recommended starting points.

We're lucky to work with some of the biggest manufacturing movers and shakers and do groundbreaking work in the connected devices and analytics - like our connected cooling chamber that enables smart logistics transport of medical tissue, vaccines, consumer packaged goods, and much more. 

To discover how Appirio is modernizing manufacturing, visit our manufacturing website

1. "Are These The 7 Real Reasons Why Tech Projects Fail?", Bernard Marr, forbes.com, December 5, 2018.

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