A well-managed industrial goods digital transformation has the potential to unlock average returns of 2.5 to 3.5 times the capital invested in as little as five years. This finding emphasizes the crucial need for businesses to be proactive and gain the competitive advantage. Despite this, relatively few organizations have taken the necessary strategic steps toward their own evolution. Meaningful progress calls for a 360-degree approach that considers people, processes, culture, ways of working, digital platforms, tools and the value pool.
The buzz of hot topics like generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) and the metaverse have dominated conversations in the last year, but many are now falling behind on accessing the game changing benefits that effective digital transformations have to offer. Major enhancements across product, design and manufacturing are a snapshot of the potential value, with the positive impacts of digital transformations extending to the entire value chain, including customers and third parties.
Heavily reduced costs and the introduction of new services await those in the industrial goods (IG) space that move swiftly and get digital transformation right. A successful approach calls for the adoption of a dynamic digital culture on the one hand, and the integration of innovative data management concepts on the other. In this article, we will explore the roles these features have to play in driving IG transformation and share other key guidelines that will help to ensure success.
Approaching application mapping
Many IG organizations are still operating with legacy application maps, often created in a siloed way with limited data and poor process integration. Over the years, departments have independently introduced new tools and features in a hurried attempt to address both minor and major business requests. In many cases, this has been done without effective end-to-end process redesign or an in-depth understanding of adapting digital tools for legacy processes. As a result, many are now suffering from a complex network of ‘spaghetti western’ architecture and a proliferation of point-to-point links, causing poor communication and widespread inefficiency.
This is where digital culture comes in. By shifting from an antiquated culture rooted in documentation, to one based on data and enabled by new technologies, a holistic view can finally be established that is critical for successful transformation. Achieving this builds the foundations for enhanced communication and visibility across an entire IG business, facilitating meaningful progress towards engineering digitization.
A powerful digital culture can transform the way you conduct application mapping, opening new avenues for collaboration and innovation. In turn, these advantages present the opportunity for the introduction of sophisticated data management that is pivotal for successful digital transformation. With the application engine renewed, a data manager or officer can be appointed to orchestrate the input and output of all applications. This important function will monitor and maintain quality and consistency, ensuring that the new process is effective and sustainable.
Empowering engineering in IG
To put the importance of digital culture and data management into perspective in the context of IG, we simply must look at what engineers need most today. Rising to meet and harness new technology and data disciplines is a primary challenge, including examples like data driven automation and Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud models. The second is managing the flow of information in an innovative way, which is becoming increasingly important as data volumes grow exponentially.
For IG organizations to succeed, their engineers must be equipped for today’s world, and that includes the following capabilities and traits:
Improved computational performance – With new architectures in place, more data can be handled, and products can operate faster and more accurately.
Semi-automatic and automatic design capabilities – Modern software enables intuitive design and automatic support for engineers on an ongoing basis.
Co-working functionality – Guaranteed collaboration environments introduced via web applications.
Managing roles and permissions – Providing an editable structure of roles and permissions to ensure that increased flexibility remains advantageous and controlled.
For these capabilities and processes to be introduced and sustained, a central data management system must be established, in combination with a comprehensive digital transformation roadmap. As part of this journey, a single source of the truth (SSOT) needs to be created for each application to leverage, and the application map should be integrated with the data management system to serve as a backbone. Taking these steps will provide a unique reference to the data structure, preventing departments from acting in a siloed way and causing complexity and inefficiency.
While it may seem tempting for IG organizations to adopt a monolithic platform that covers all applications, this fosters myopic strategies that limit the potential for future changes. This route would also prevent ‘Best of Breed’ applications from being identified within an organization, while also limiting the number of data types that can be effectively processed.
Showcasing the benefits
The convergence of a digital culture and powerful data management practices has the power to open access to centralized data that previously took a long time to locate and get hold of. In an era that demands rapid decision-making and outstanding user experience, data accessibility is a mission critical consideration.
Implementing data management and aligning the organization with a data culture also promotes the use of automation for processes that ordinarily require manual effort, delivering immediate cost and time efficiency gains. Other powerful benefits include the simplification of inconsistency detection, the creation of a common understanding of data, and a much shorter engineering change process.
Taking the next steps
Having supported numerous transformations, our expert BCG team has identified five guidelines for enabling strategic application success in IG. These include application map rationalization, pivotal systems restraint, SW OOTB maximization, cost minimization, and future enablement.
Whether you need support in bundling vertical streams to optimize modules within one ecosystem, replacing old solutions, or reducing process discontinuities, get in touch with us to discuss your requirements!