Questions organizations should address before embarking on their digital journey

With the UAE having launched a national strategy to raise manufacturing’s contribution to the country’s economic output to AED300 billion over the next decade, manufacturers’ digital transformation strategies will increasingly be under the spotlight.

Phil Lewis, VP Solution Consulting EMEA, Infor

Speaking at the Future Factories Summit last week, Phil Lewis, VP Solution Consulting EMEA, Infor, offered key insights on how manufacturers can successfully digitally transform, and help propel the sector to new heights in the UAE and the wider region.

Before starting out on a potentially complicated digital transformation journey, organizations should take a step back and ask themselves three questions, according to Lewis.

1. Are we organizationally ready for significant change?

Organizations are only as good as their people, and manufacturers must look carefully at whether they have the right people and culture to support a different way of doing things. It is the people within the organization who will be responsible for implementing change, and they should be ready, committed, and onboard with any type of transformation plan.

An organization’s culture can make or break a digital transformation project and “Organizational Change Management” is one of the key components of such a project. Organizations should aim for an inclusive culture where people feel like they are key contributors to the company’s future success.

To achieve this, management teams should encourage a culture of openness to help encourage employees to step forward with their ideas. All change, and all transformation, starts with an idea – so it’s important for people to feel empowered to put their ideas out in the open.

2. What are we hoping to achieve and what is the outcome?

Delivering successful digital transformation projects is difficult, and if an organization does not understand the destination, the chances of success are minimal. It is important that they invest time and effort upfront to understand exactly what they want to achieve from their digital transformation. It is wise to ask the following questions: “What do we need the change? Why do we need to change it, and what is the anticipated impact?”

Infor helps customers around the world and across various industries to successfully ideate, design and deliver digital change, and understanding the outcome of a project is an important early step.

No matter how many ideas an organization has, they will fall into one of four categories: customer alignment, employee productivity, supply chain visibility, or operational efficiency.

Customers. Organizations should ask whether they are transforming the way they connect and relate to customers and whether they want to offer a new product, increase their level of service, or use data to create a new revenue stream.

Employees. Organizations should ask whether they are providing capabilities that help to engage the workforce and how digital solutions will help improve workforce productivity, empower decision-making, and remove bottlenecks in processes.

Supply Chains. Organizations should examine if they are simplifying complex supply chains and increasing visibility to anticipate issues and take steps to proactively resolve potential problems.

Operations. When looking at operational efficiency, companies will benefit from asking whether they can streamline the way they operate as a business and if they are using technology to bring efficiency to their processes, to predict issues, and prescribe the next best action.

3. Is our systems landscape digitally compliant and ready?

Before starting a digital transformation project, an organization’s systems should be digitally compliant and highly flexible. Ideally, the organization has a systems ecosystem where people can access their work, their data, and their processes without barriers, at any time, and from any location. Often having their solutions available in the cloud is the best way forward.

Also, organizations will benefit from solutions built for their specific industry with sector-specific capabilities built-in, not bolted on. Heavily modified applications will almost certainly impede upgrades and modernization, introduce risk, and hinder adoption of advanced digital solutions.

Ideally, the organization’s end-to-end systems and applications should be running on a common digital platform that provides integrated modern capabilities such as Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), big data, mobility, and predictive analytics.

In today’s world, an organization’s IT landscape must support the concept of hyper-connectivity – not just connecting applications and digital capability, but connecting everything: Their people, applications, devices, data, customers, and suppliers.