IT in Manufacturing

Five actions for your business and community to prepare for the digital revolution

June 2020 IT in Manufacturing

Digitalisation activities are on the rise. The key reasons are noted within a changing business landscape where customers need services digitally integrated, delivered faster, smarter and more cost-effectively. The prevailing urgency is causing a stir as the demand for skilled resources to deliver digital projects is on the rise, although still largely focused within the broader IT and development sector. But are we doing enough in terms of skills development for the rest of the organisation? Do we have enough digital awareness throughout the business to take us on the journey of digital transformation? Is there enough awareness within your community such that it will evolve into a digital ecosystem?

We propose five key areas companies should focus on in 2020, so as to increase its digital maturity as well as that of the communities it sources from and supplies.

1. Understand your digital maturity status

Modern-day digital transformation is far from the ‘IT’ activities at the turn of the century. The application of technology has shifted from hardware to platforms and from standalone software to fully integrated business solutions, augmented by a large data framework that permeates the organisation, lending itself to analysis and interpretation at a whole new level. Similarly, management and technical expertise evolved, with business intelligence tools finding their place in the boardroom, while the IT department is tasked with significantly more functions than before. However, the full value of digitalisation will not be sourced from the IT department alone, but rather delivered by integrated and committed teams sourced from all divisions in your business. These teams must be equipped to extract the potential from every aspect of your business and operating model and ready to effect change. How ready is your organisation to take this journey? Is everyone on board and living the strategy?

It is recommended that organisations formalise their digital transformation strategy. This document, owned at the executive level and sanctioned by the board, must be integrated with and informed by the overall business strategy and have KPIs served throughout the organisation. In preparation of strategy, management should take great care in understanding its digital status. For this, various digital maturity models are available. At its core, a typical model will connect an analysis of knowledge, attitudes, skills and habits to the pursuit of a growth culture and targeted objectives. The ‘to be’ is then mapped against business and technology trends, identifying implementable solutions.

Companies that already compiled a digital strategy should check its relevance as well as validating progress relative to its business community. The digital maturity of your suppliers and customers will impact the optimal deployment strategy and achievable objectives.

2. Raise your expectations

Regardless of the progress on your digital transformation journey, please raise your expectations. Whether you ask more from your CDO, implementation PM, your technology partner, suppliers or staff, everyone needs to deliver more and faster. The world is moving at an unprecedented pace and disruption is accelerating. If you are not on track, you are further behind by the time you’ve finished reading this article.

Boards need more from executives, executives from management and specialists, management more from staff, suppliers and generally the community where you operate. If you don’t have executive-level KPIs about digitalisation in your business strategy, you should start asking some serious questions about your level of comfort.

3. Build digital into your sourcing strategy

As much as there is to do within your own business, it is important that your supply community stays with you on your digital journey. It is now time for strategic sourcing teams to work with business to understand digital integration needs and express these as critical criteria in sourcing selections. Look into reducing administrative work, process automation and data integration. Your customers need you to be faster and more cost-effective and integrated with their data framework. An integrated supply chain is therefore critical to your operations.

4. Make digital a socio-economic development objective within your community

We’ve touched on the importance of digital integration with your business community. This community will be drawing from a limited skills source which will drive up costs, eroding competitiveness. As a country, we need to face the Fourth Industrial Revolution head-on by rapidly growing the skills base to deliver digitalisation, or risk falling further behind the global curve. We cannot leave this to government and tertiary institutions alone, but rather accept that as a society we need to bridge the gap and develop a digital culture accessible for all. So, is your business investing in a local school to have IT literacy, or driving digital transformation training in your ED/SD or socio-economic transformation initiatives? Start asking these questions and engage strategic partners to drive a culture of learning. This decade must be about removing the digital divide so prevalent in our communities.

5. Training throughout the ranks

Finally, you need to train at all levels in your organisation. DQ Institute developed a common framework that aggregates leading ideas, knowledge and practices from around the world to which organisations can benchmark digital intelligence (DQ). It covers eight primary themes, each demonstrating the need for organisations to face the responsibilities they own in the development and application of digital solutions.

You are advised to include appropriate training and development in your digital transformation strategy. Partner with solution providers that cover the management and delivery of these themes towards raising your business DQ.

What to do?

Do you have the required skill and knowledge in-house? To ensure successful digital transformation, you need a partner to assess your digital maturity and help strategise how you will achieve the necessary culture change to maximise your potential. If you have not planned your strategy and organisation, get help. The journey is arduous and can be so much more satisfying if you have a clear plan and the organisation to deliver.

For more information contact Johan Louw, Aguru Business Solutions, +27 82 711 1279,,

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