The modernization of manufacturing is happening rapidly as current global circumstances bring the year 2030 to 2021. 2020 forced organizations to pivot, adapt and change quickly how they do business with the modern customer.

Now begs the question, are you and your organization ready? Undertaking a digital transformation in your organization can be both challenging and scary as a new way of thinking is required to support the new way of working. Aside from technological challenges, industry 4.0 is driving the demand to recruit highly skilled individuals while at the same time posing risk for retention of high performers.

It is our hope that this blog will provide you with a playbook to take the first steps to uncover the hidden potential of your business and your people as industry 4.0 begins to be introduced in your culture.

The “Why”

It simply is a new era. People and machines have evolved from being something that we used to watch in a sci-fi movie to working in complete harmony. We are always “connected” as humans through our devices and as such, it just makes sense to have machines connected on the shop floor. Now also consider how fast we can solve problems with our phones. Within a few clicks you can solve your problem, “there's an app for that”. This type of accessibility to information is empowering us at all times to solve problems and solve them fast. Guess what, there are multiple generations coming to the workplace that expect the same type of information accessibility. Just ask a Gen Z or Gen Y teammate to create an excel spreadsheet and watch their face drop. It’s not their thing anymore - we have to realize that real time, accessible information systems are positive drivers of today’s workers. Technology does not drive sustainability, people do. Everyone has to understand that we are in a “Digitize or Decline” economy whereby the customer will be given the option to buy very easily from multiple sources and you no longer have to be the sole provider.

The Playbook

The number of articles is astounding that convey the message of digital transformation failing. Some data suggests that up to 80% of transformations are unsuccessful. Now, if I was a leader thinking about digital transformation and conducted some research, I'd likely be scared and forget the idea altogether. This brief article will articulate what we have identified are the core needs of an organization to have a successful digital transformation. Let’s take a look at the 7 components needed to determine the “readiness” factor of an organization.

Cultural Readiness.To adopt industry 4.0, it is important to know the age demographic of your workforce. This will help to answer questions such as, is the distribution of your workforce heavy on Baby Boomers, a mix of multiple generations or mostly Millennial and Gen Z? Understanding your generational makeup will help provide clarity into the specific type of transformation that would be widely accepted. Whatever you uncover will dictate your adoption and roll out strategy.

Business Vision Alignment. The desired outcome of the transformation must align with the vision of your business. Do you have a vision to be the world leader in your industry? If yes, does your digital strategy incorporate analytics to support the greater vision, or are you simply automating singular actions? Ensure that the measurable results will align and support the organizational vision for overall growth. Work to ensure you capture market share and knock out the competition when there is alignment between the two.

Trusted Data. Traditionally, it has been easy to hide behind data that is inaccurate, late and foggy. We sometimes use this smoke screen as a way to protect our ego, roles and job security. Prepare your people for an environment of informational transparency. Communicate the fact that transparency is vital to their roles and will ultimately help them achieve more. Word of caution, this must be a slow and very people-centric transition but when done properly having visibility into accurate data helps your people and organization make solid and informed decisions.

Leadership Support. The most important ingredient of any transformation is leadership support. Does the leadership team truly support the change? Are they present at the strategy sessions? Do they see the future with a progressive and innovative mindset? Are they willing to support the changes needed to make this transformation happen? One person can initiate actions to begin making change happen but it takes a team to successfully transform an entire business.

Simplify. Communication is critical to success. Everyday we make business decisions based on information our colleagues share with us. The problem is, sales and marketing use their legacy platform because they don't want to change. Human resources is running on a fancy cloud based solution and operations runs on excel. Does this sound familiar ? Now, let's have 10 update meetings a week to keep the pulse on the business. This is a traditional business operation and it's slowly becoming obsolete. Simplify as much as you can, speak the same digital language across the enterprise to drive alignment and hold strategic meetings where real time informed decisions can be made.

Standardize. If half your business runs on paper and the other half on technology, you're opening yourself up to a high level of human error. You will have to play the game of chase to get an answer to simple questions. Simply put, you will be running your business blind. The lack of standardization contributes directly to the cost of poor quality, rework and repeat efforts. At a minimum standardize your process so that you are at least running in a digital environment and you no longer have to chase the paper trail.

Sustain. So you followed the first 2 S's. Great, now the fun part. You get to use what you created for a long time and I promise, see results. If your change management plan was spot on, then adoption in this phase will be high. You get maximum return on your investment and a level of engagement from your team that is incredible. Reinforcement is critical here so support your team, be present and sustain the change. Think about how quickly we evolved over the last decade as a society.

Think about the convenience we have and the ease at which we can accomplish tasks. With that in mind, what does work look like today and tomorrow? By applying this playbook to your digital strategy, you’ll never be afraid to answer, “what does tomorrow’s work world look like”?

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