2020 taught us that technology and innovation are critical to business growth and success. Enterprises were confronted with new challenges in running shop floors, managing labour shortage due to mass migration, reaching out to the customers faster than the competition, managing customer experience, go-to-market and work collaboration.
Trends driving the future
As businesses continue to pursue digital transformation initiatives to address these challenges, specific technological capabilities will be in high demand in 2021. The key trends that will drive technology investments this year will be IoT, 5G and the hybrid cloud market.
Technology in industries like manufacturing, process and healthcare plays a crucial role in sustaining businesses and bouncing back from the prevailing impediment. Convergence of VR-AR-MR and 3D Printing and Intelligent Automation-Artificial Intelligence (IA-AI) convergence via RPA and analytics will be familiar. Data, automation and digitisation are transforming every stage of the manufacturing process.
Choosing the right strategy
Companies, irrespective of their size and scale of operations, need to finalise a well-thought strategy and a roadmap that leverages Industry 4.0 interventions to remain competitive. But first and foremost, they need to understand what a smart factory would mean for them before investing. There are three common characteristics associated with smart factories -
They are connected, automated and have flexible digital shop floor processes.
They define new relationships between operators and machines.
They require a change in the structure and scale of the factory.
Technologies, like IoT, AI, advanced robotics, wearables and 3D Printing, are transforming what, where and how products are designed, manufactured, assembled, distributed, consumed, serviced after purchase, discarded and even reused. They affect and alter all end-to-end steps of the production process and, as a result, transform the products that consumers demand, the factory processes & footprints and the management of global supply chains. Most importantly, organisations need to collaborate with a leading IoT service provider with a proven track record of smart factory implementations in green- and brown-field & multiple digital transformation programs, preferably in India and abroad. The team of experts from the IoT service provider needs to be an integral part of the core team responsible from strategy to execution so that key learnings and best practices can be imbibed right from the beginning.
Considerations for successful transformation
Many businesses are afraid of taking an unconventional road, exceptionally when they persuade their company to adopt new technologies. The common questions that swirl through their minds is – Is it essential for running my business? Can I afford it? Can I implement it correctly? What should we do if something goes wrong? A consistent, well-thought and practical approach to upgrade to new technologies is essential for any business. While it is true that the early adopters of the latest technologies enjoy the benefits of quick adoption and stay ahead in the competition, there is no need to rush and become a part of the mad race.
Consider these critical points for your business success before diving into technology adoption – carefully contemplate the ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘with whom’ you would like to embark on the journey of tech transformation; have a close market watch for technology use cases and successes – what applies to others, may not be true for you; plan to balance your fast change with immediate needs – segregate ‘must have’ from ‘desirable’ and communicate the risk of the legacy system migration across the whole organisation and train everyone to embrace change.