Digitization is on everyone’s lips these days. If you have not taken steps to implement and improve digital data flow, you are probably already behind. I receive information regularly from PwC and here is a new report on how digitization is reshaping the manufacturing industry. The report takes a look at 8 companies and showcase how they improved their efficiency, productivity and customer experience by ensuring they have the right capabilities central to their operating model and by matching them with strong skill sets in analytics and IT.

Pressure from the consumer, new regulations and advances in information technology are all reasons that are pushing manufacturing organizations to digitize so they can avoid falling behind the new breed of market-leading ‘digital champions.’ The report identifies 4 significant changes CEOs must implement to maximize the benefits of digitization.

1. Drive organizational changes that address new digital capabilities and digitalized processes – e.g., product and process design and engineering, end-to-end procurement, supply chain/distribution and after-sales – right from the top, because these are so new and different

2. Hire more software and Internet of Things (IoT) engineers and data scientists, while training the wider workforce in digital skills

3. Learn from software businesses, which have the ability to develop use cases rapidly and turn them into software products

4. Extend digitalization beyond IT to include significant operational technologies (OT) such as track and trace solutions and digital twinning

From the report, “Already, digitally ‘smart’ manufacturers are gaining a competitive advantage by exploiting emerging technologies and trends such as digital twinning, predictive maintenance, track and trace, and modular design. These companies have dramatically improved their efficiency, productivity, and customer experience by ensuring these capabilities are central to their operating models and by matching them with strong skill sets in analytics and IT. “

During 2018 and early 2019, PwC conducted in-depth digitisation case studies of eight industrial and manufacturing organisations in Germany, the US, India, Japan and the Middle East. Drawing on discussions and interviews with CEOs and division heads, we explored the key triggers for change these companies faced, assessed how digital solutions are being implemented and how digitisation is affecting key aspects of their operating models. We also compared our eight organisations with other publicly cited digitisation case studies, and leveraged PwC’s 2018 study Digital Champions: How industry leaders build integrated operations ecosystems to deliver end-to-end customer solutions and other ongoing PwC research.

This paper is the result of ongoing collaboration between PwC and the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS). GMIS provides a forum for industry leaders to interact with governments, technologists and academia in order to navigate the challenges and opportunities brought about by the digital technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. PwC has been a knowledge partner with GMIS since 2016.

The eight case studies in this report make clear how far the role of digital technology goes beyond traditional IT systems. It also encompasses OT and data and analytics technologies. Full integration and linkage among these different technologies, and the ecosystems they are part of, are essential to a successful digital transformation. Yet success is impossible without a digitally smart workforce that is familiar with Industry 4.0 skills and tools.

These challenges are the subject of the second part of the report Digital Champions: How industry leaders build integrated operations ecosystems to deliver end-to-end customer solutions, which will be published in January 2020.

The report will elaborate further on the emerging theory of digital manufacturing and operations, in which successful, digitised industrial organisations will increasingly have to act like software companies in response to four key factors:

  • The connected customer seeks a batch size of one, necessitating greater customisation of products and delivery time, improved customer experience, use of online channels and outcome-based business models.
  • Digital operations require both engineering and software abilities to enable extensive data analysis and IoT-based integration, as well as digitisation of products and services.
  • Organisations need augmented automation, in which machines become part of the organisation via closely connected machine–worker tasks and integrated IT and OT.
  • Future employees will be ‘system-savvy craftspeople’ with the skills to use sensors in order to collect and analyse accurate data, as well as design and manage connected processes.

About the authors

Anil Khurana is PwC’s global industrial, manufacturing and automotive industry leader. He is a principal with PwC US.

Reinhard Geissbauer is a partner with PwC Germany based in Munich. He is the global lead for PwC’s Digital Operations Impact Center.

Steve Pillsbury is a principal with PwC US and the US lead for PwC’s Digital Operations Impact Center.

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