We are only at the start of a digital technology revolution that will profoundly change how we live and work in the next five years. With artificial intelligence, FinTech (especially blockchain) and the Internet of Things coming of age, we can expect digital disruption to accelerate in the years to come.
However, CIOs in the manufacturing industry should ensure that they’re better prepared. The difficulty is that we don’t really know where technology will take us. We have a vague sense of the direction, but no clear view of the destination.
Rather than encouraging teams to stick to the rules, organisations should be ready to experiment, to fail fast, and to recover quickly from failure.
As futurist Graeme Codrington put it in a recent Sage podcast, “The single most important thing you can do to be responsive to change is to experiment. Leaders need to create a mindset and a structure that makes constant
CIOs are now expected to guide the entire business through new ways of working. After all, an IDC Survey reveals that more than 40% of line-of-business executives view the CIO as the Chief Innovation Officer. As the people with their fingers on technology’s pulse, they should embrace their role of championing innovation and agility in the business.
It’s not as easy as it seems. Aside from the actual technology, they need to start creating an open, collaborative culture, where digital natives can grow well. For constant change to work, it also means using open business management solutions and the power of the cloud to quickly and cost-effectively build out new apps and services.
And of course, continual upskilling of the entire team will be needed to keep up. This should happen on a daily basis and should be part of the culture. Waiting for annual training seminars simply won’t cut it anymore.
“We’re lucky that huge technical infrastructures and a massive IT team are no longer necessary to access world-class technology,” says Sage’s Keith Fenner.
Deployment of new solutions is also fast, provided companies are running an open platform that allows them to easily plug in other services and apps via an API.
“Do you want to digitise your factory floor processes and machines to increase automation? Well, today, Internet of Things sensors are cheap and open, and it’s easy to provision a software solution from the cloud using nothing more than a credit card. If it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world because you have made no heavy infrastructure investments.
“Today, testing new technologies is easier, faster and less risky than ever before. In fact, the risk today is not experimenting, not trying new things and not failing fast. Manufacturing companies that are not keeping up with the pace of change could find themselves left behind by a changing world. Just think about what happened to Kodak after digital cameras and DVD stores after Netflix.