There is this something in the air this time of year where everyone starts with new year’s resolutions, and it is all about new beginnings. I am not quite sure why new beginnings are associated with the end or start of a calendar year. That is if you follow the Gregorian calendar – which is most of the modern world. Spring which is typically associated with new beginnings doesn’t start in January regardless of whether you are in the northern or southern hemisphere. Perhaps some companies’ financial years start in January but typically that doesn’t seem to be the norm either. So, I’ll continue to ponder this conundrum…
Moving with the times
Recently my parents sprung it upon me that they want all their old, printed photographs converted to digital format as they are downsizing and don’t have the space or the inclination to view the photos in their traditional photo albums. Side note, this is something that we have tried to convince them to do for some years already. And then suddenly, they have embarked on a new beginnings journey which doesn’t just involve converting photos into a digital format but their whole environment. So why am I writing about it?
While many of us are starting the new year resolving to transform ourselves by hitting the gym, eating better, and spending less money, the manufacturing and distribution industry like many others is faced with the challenge of adapting to technology to stay ahead. The events of the last two years made one thing clear: wherever you are in the digital evolution embrace digital to thrive. Just like how my parents realized that converting their photo albums from analogue to digital minimizes multiple risks and offers more space, digitalization has benefits for your organization to remain competitive in today’s ever-changing market.
Where to start
When it comes to our resolutions we always look at where we want to be at the end of the year or at least in a few years, which is fine, but do we even understand who we are now and what we are struggling with or thriving in? The same should apply for manufacturers and distributors as they decide on digital transformation in the new year. As you build your roadmap, I would suggest take a more proactive approach to planning and accept that you can’t know where you are going without knowing where you are now.
For my parents they may start looking at what photographs they have and how many they need to convert and build a plan on how they will do that. For manufacturers and distributors, it’s important that before you digitally transform your organization you realize that you need data to convert existing business processes into digital. However, if your data is still analogue it cannot be collected or digitally manipulated, whereas digital data can be collected and analyzed easier. For my parents the digital photographs will make it easier for them to share photos with others and store them. For your business, converting to digital means you will be able to identify trends around things like customer preferences as well as define an optimal future direction for your organization from a technology perspective.
Solutions to equip you on the journey
For manufacturers and distributors, a healthy business translates to goals like beefing up the sales pipeline, streamlining operations, and improving efficiency. The first step would be to replace paper-based systems with electronic systems to benefit from accurate real-time manufacturing intelligence and data to enhance collaboration and productivity.
In today’s technology and data driven world, there is no excuse for poor visibility. Manufacturers and distributors should implement systems like ERP that assist with the management of data and information about production time, quality, maintenance, and system-to-system collaboration. Without this information the threat of wastage, unnecessary downtime and poor decision-making is ever present.
Industries should complete this same exercise of creating resolutions, what all of us in the corporate world call annual plans or strategic plans. For 2022, the list should include digital transformation – and how digital can create new business models and drive new revenue streams.