Today’s manufacturing companies are facing challenges that go far beyond the typical issues of labor shortages, rising material costs, and ever-increasing regulations. The world is becoming increasingly digitized, with software permeating every aspect of our lives. Product design, production planning, manufacturing operations need to be able to keep up with this trend if they want to stay competitive in today’s market. This can create a challenge for manufacturers as there may not be enough internal company expertise, knowledge, skills, tools to make the necessary changes. To overcome these challenges many manufacturing companies will look outside of their normal solution toolbox for help in achieving their digitalization goals.
I was thrilled to get an invitation to join the PI DX Spotlight discussion session with a very fascinating topic – Is a Truly End-to-End Digital Enterprise Achievable? Read more about the event here. I’m very excited to join such an amazing group of my industry colleagues. Check this out and register.
The session will include two panels. Opening Panel Discussion: Creating a Digital Enterprise: What are the Challenges and Where to Start? and the second one – Is a Truly End-to-End Digital Enterprise Achievable?
The invitation made me think about the promises and challenges of the digital enterprise. Over the last few years, I’ve been involved in multiple projects focusing on how to help manufacturing companies to escape their document analog past and to figure out how to adopt digital technologies. While speaking about digital enterprise I’ve heard many questions. As such –
1- Does truly digital enterprise require everyone to get on SaaS
2- Does digital enterprise mean less security
3- How can a single digital enterprise be created by multiple vendors?
4- What business model will lead future digital enterprises?
I don’t have answers yet, but I hope to get them from the discussion. Below are some of my initial thoughts…
1. What is an end-to-end digital enterprise?
An end-to-end digital enterprise is an organization that uses the internet to make its business more efficient. This means you use digital technology in every step of the process. What does it mean in a practical sense? Does it mean everyone will have to leave their existing software or does it mean companies will have to figure out a new way to communicate? My hunch is that the second is true. But how to do so can be a challenge and the companies will struggle to achieve the goal.
2. Why are enterprises struggling to reach the end goal of a truly end-to-end digital enterprise
People are struggling to reach the end goal of a truly end-to-end digital enterprise. There are many reasons for this. One is that people need to do more than just incorporate technology into their business practices, but they also need to change how they think about problems and how they solve them. The biggest challenge is to stop thinking about paper flow (even if this flow is presented with digital (documents), it is still a paper flow.
3. How can enterprises successfully achieve the goal of end-to-end digital enterprise?
This is a multi-billion dollar question everyone wants to know the answer to. Everyone (vendors, consultants, businesses) are looking through their existing perspective of products, technology, communication, and other elements of their business relationships to figure out the recipe to change. My hunch every digital transformation requires generational change. Do modern enterprises have time to wait? I guess the answer is no, but it is a very painful answer for many of them.
4. The challenges that come with digital enterprise
A digital enterprise has challenges. These are different from other types of businesses because they happen in the digital world. Most companies today are unprepared for digital technology challenges. We can see them every day and will keep coming. Piles of documents, old databases, legacy systems – this is only a shortlist of challenges.
5. Ways to overcome challenges and succeed in reaching the ultimate goal of a fully integrated, digitally connected business model
I can see three main ways to overcome the challenges – (1) create a ‘digital flow’; (2) capture information from legacy sources; (3) create new digital KPIs. Each of these steps requires a lot of work and challenges. I will talk about each of them in my future blogs.
What is my conclusion?
One way to think about your business is as a digital ecosystem. As you work towards the ultimate goal of a fully integrated and digitally connected company, it’s important to envision how different parts will connect with each other and what changes need to be made in order for them to do so. It is important to understand how existing legacy information sources, old PLM systems, zillions of Excels, and other documents will be transformed into an online digital infrastructure and new digital process. Just my thoughts…
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital network-based platform that manages product data and connects manufacturers, construction companies, and their supply chain networks. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.