The pandemic has changed so much of how businesses operate, from pushing the majority of employees to remote work to changing technology priorities. According to one recent survey, nearly three quarters of those surveyed identified digital transformation projects that were implemented within weeks during the pandemic rather than the months or years it would have taken prior to 2020. This rapid change has made it abundantly clear that being agile and embracing digital transformation is now an absolute necessity.
Now, more than ever, survival for manufacturers and distributors depends on the ability to roll up sleeves and tackle the transformation challenge head-on so they can create real-world impact. The benefits of transforming digitally will be far-reaching and include the ability to: rapidly innovate, offer a shorter time to market, and prevent waste by storing less inventory. Long term results include more efficient supply chains and higher capital efficiency.
The good news is that you can use manufacturing technology such as your ERP to support your overall digital strategy. The key is to ensure that it is future-fit, has the capacity to act as the heart of your organization, and can provide you with the critical information you will need during the transformation process.
Starting the Digital Transformation Journey
The best starting point is to gain a clear understanding of your current environment and to ask the fundamental question: “What do we want to achieve from digitalization?” The answer will help to guide your decision-making and define the way forward.
Manufacturers should look at hiring an automation specialist to assess the business and current landscape. This specialist will start by auditing equipment, technology, processes, and types of interactions with customers, suppliers and employees. This process will help identify gaps, bottlenecks, opportunities and missing pieces in operations. Once there is a good understanding of the current situation, the business will be in a better position to define a clear strategy and implement a step-by-step plan of action that will support your organization’s transformation journey.
How To Build a Digital Toolkit With Manufacturing Technology
With a strategy in hand, the next step will be to select the manufacturing technology to enable your digital journey.
- Connected Services: Your ERP provider should be looking to the future and thinking about how to incorporate the ability to consume connected-service applications, without you needing to write a single line of code. A connected service allows you to subscribe to and consume services that have been provided by multiple vendors. They allow you to expand your supply chain outside of your business by integrating different platforms.
- Machine Learning and AI: AI should be a first-class citizen of your ERP, not a third-party add-on. Machine learning and AI tools in your ERP system can help identify trends, get predictions, and identify anomalies. ML and AI can help the business to create efficiencies and augment user capabilities.
AI can help your procurement teams be more efficient. Through more accurate age analysis for example, it can help your CFO and finance department to better predict your organization’s cash flow. AI can also assist with identifying data trends and anomaly detection, which can help detect user error; a customer who doesn’t understand which product is best for them; or even fraud.
By ensuring that ML and AI are pre-existing, first-class citizens and integral parts of your ERP, you save time and money by not having to run two separate systems with work-arounds or add-ons, which can become security risks.
- Digital Citizens: Self-service agents or digital citizens (bots) are available 24/7 and are always on, answering questions and servicing requests. They provide your customers with immediate and consistent service every single day.
Self-service agents/digital citizens should be embedded in your ERP’s machine learning infrastructure and be self-taught and self-learning. The digital citizens should come with a solid understanding of industry-specific terms such as bill of goods, vendor, debtor, and service, etc. and should be engineered to speak in generic business language.
Redeem the Value of Transformation With PositiveVision
By gaining a better understanding of what you currently have, and how you are using it, you’ll be in a better position to clarify what you want to achieve from your digital transformation, and whether the value derived will outweigh the cost of implementing it. By investing the time and resources to this initial phase, you should be able to address potential challenges head on, and ensure the long-term sustainability of your business for years to come.
Start your transformation by making sure you have the right ERP in place. Find the right fit based on your business needs and rely on the expertise of the team at PositiveVision to streamline systems and processes to maximize your manufacturing technology. Get started now by contacting one of our consultants.