Digital Transformation is Way More than Just Digital

Over the last 25 years, I have an unparalleled front seat to the digital transformation that is now accelerating in the connected manufacturing and automotive industry.  Not many people have had the opportunity to witness the transformation and be as active in this area as I have; I consider myself lucky.

Over the last two decades, we have seen manufacturing use cases come to life that are now ubiquitous and commonplace within Manufacturing  – predictive maintenance is saving the automotive industry hundreds of thousands of dollars/hour of once costly downtime, and companies such as large truck manufacturer have taken the lead by delivering IoT-enabled predictive maintenance, vehicle diagnostics and management, and route optimization to help fleet and truck owners minimize vehicle downtime.  This has revolutionized their business models and hence their structure and fundamentally changed what is being delivered to the bottom line.

Digital transformation is fundamentally changing the manufacturing plant and processes and this is having a profound effect on people that work in these plants.   One prime example is our love-hate relationship with robots.  Once thought of as a threat, as you can see from this cartoon created in the late 1930s, that we both have a fear of them and are fascinated by them at the same time. 

Source: https://io9.gizmodo.com/the-true-story-of-a-robot-who-shot-his-creator-in-193-5611423

The reality is that we should have neither. Today’s industrial robots have fundamentally improved workers’ lives.  From automotive manufacturing to workers in Groton, Connecticut building our nuclear submarine fleet, computer vision guided robotic welding has shielded workers from dangerous jobs and replaced these dangerous, repetitive and routine tasks with higher-skilled, safer jobs maintaining the robots that do the work for them. The products that are produced are higher quality, cheaper, and more technically advanced that could be built without this data-driven technology.  

As we are exploring other social issues in the US right now, I think it’s an opportune time to speak about the conflicting initiatives that digital transformation has delivered to us.  On one hand, businesses should and do promote the digital transformation to drive profits and efficiency, but on the other hand, this can be perceived at the expense of worker job elimination or the diminishment of workers’ potential.  I don’t believe this is a zero-sum game though.  

On Tuesday, August July 28th at 10:00amPST, I am delighted to have been offered to be a panelist for the discussion: “Human and Cultural Consequences of Industrial IoT, AI/ML on Industries” hosted by ACG, Silicon Valley’s premier organization for C-Suite leaders providing community, connections, and thought leadership, enabling both personal and organizational growth. 

I think these are important topics and hope to provide insight into:

  • How businesses and employees can co-create success when implementing digital transformation projects
  • The real state of these initiatives and how these technologies are co-existing with the workforce, not competing with them
  • Building the right skills now in our upcoming youth
  • Managing an aging workforce.

Please register here for a seat in this webinar.  I hope you can attend.

Michael Ger
Michael Ger

Managing Director, Manufacturing & Automotive

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