The 4 Stages of Starting a Digital Transformation in Industrial Sectors

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Digital transformation is the process of using current digital technology to improve your business. When done correctly, digital transformation improves the overall efficiency of your business, which leads to higher profit margins. Many business owners in the industrial sector don’t realize just how large of an impact digital transformations can have on their business.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and location data can make the workplace safer for employees, aid with the organization of your inventory, improve the customer experience, and even help lower your utility bills. Most importantly, by using the IoT and digital transformation to automate business operations, you have more time to focus on different ways you can improve and grow your industrial business. Digital transformation is so important that industrial experts predict that by 2025, the IoT will be responsible for $11 trillion in economic growth.

Benefits of starting digital transformation include:

  • Significantly improved efficiency
  • Improved inventory knowledge/storage/handling
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Higher annual revenue
  • Increased employee satisfaction
  • Improved site security
  • Better communication between different workgroups

Working your way through the four stages of starting a digital transformation in industrial sectors is the key to enjoying the maximum benefits of the change.

1. Eliminate Silos Before Beginning Your Digital Transformation Strategy

Some businesses owners consider silo elimination the first step of digital transformation, while others roll it into the first stage. The one thing everyone agrees on is that eliminating silos is the only way to make the digital transformation process go smoothly. 

Eliminating silos before implementing your digital transformation requires that you identify the areas in your workforce where communication about tasks, jobs, and other information is severely isolated. Your company can use that information to open up clear lines of communication. 

Some business owners have found this to be the most challenging part of the digital transformation process because certain groups of employees struggle with the idea of maintaining open lines of communication with other workgroups. It’s up to you to make sure each employee understands the only thing that maintaining the silos accomplishes is putting the business’s future at risk. It may take time, but most workforces learn how to break down silos. 

Once the silo is down and the automated programs are up and running, lines of communication remain smooth and no new silos form. This is especially useful in the industrial sector where it’s common for workgroups to be scattered across multiple locations

In many cases, breaking down communication silos to make room for digital transformation involves the following steps:

  • Adapting the management style so that you and your team of managers act as facilitators
  • Evolving the business’s core values so that the heart of the business focuses on teamwork and communication
  • Rewarding strong communication skills and innovative thinking
  • Creating cross-functional teams that combine individuals who haven’t had to communicate in the past

The good news is that once the digital transformation is complete, your employees will realize how much it has improved the workplace. Also, they will quickly accept and appreciate the value of strong communication and find that they are more excited about going to work than they ever were before. A good management team that works well together goes a long way towards breaking down communication silos and allowing digital transformation to take place.

2. Identify Your Digital Foundation

Before you can begin to implement an automated program for your industrial business, you have to sit down and figure out which aspects of your business are best suited to automation. This will create a foundation for your digital transformation.

The exact areas vary from one company to another, depending on the type of services they provide, the inventory/equipment they deal with, and the areas of business in which they lack efficiency. Most industrial businesses start building their digital transformation foundation by looking at tasks that are currently being handled manually but which could be done by an automated program.

When creating the foundation for your digital transformation, you want to identify the areas that you can easily automate without disrupting shipments, employees, and customers. Once you have those areas automated, you can gradually automate areas that create a disruptive ripple.

3. The Synchronization Stage of Digital Transformation

The whole point of digital transformation in the industrial sector is to streamline business operations. Two key components of this are, first, using the foundation-building stage to prioritize the automation process and, second, making sure the different initiatives are properly synchronized. With careful planning, this stage can be completed with honed IT skills and knowledge of digital transformation and automation programs. 

This is the stage when you and your IT expert troubleshoot and remedy potential glitches. Many also use this stage to start explaining the upcoming changes to their employees, suppliers, and customers. Some refer to this stage as the partially synchronized stage and the next stage as the fully synchronized stage.

Check out why investing in IoT is crucial nowadays.

4. The Strategy Stage of Digital Transformation

The strategy stage of digital transformation is where everything starts to come together. It’s usually at this stage that business owners start seeing how going digital will improve their industrial business operations and get excited about the future. It’s also at this stage that you take what has only been set up in parts and engage the entire system. You and your staff finally get to experience how much easier the digital transformation makes the regular business day.

Shortly after the strategy stage of the digital transformation, you’ll notice a marked improvement in both your daily operations and customer handling. There won’t be any more questions about whether you have too much or too little inventory because your business’s equipment will be properly logged with electronic records. The improved organization and efficiency create the perfect situation for you to decide if you should expand your business or hold steady.

Don’t be surprised if, once you’ve started reaping the many benefits connected with digital transformation, you discover additional aspects of your industrial business that would benefit from being automated. The good news is that once everyone has discovered how much easier the automated system makes the workday, they’ll eagerly embrace additional automated efforts.

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