Navigating The New Economy With Digital Transformation

How Strategic IT Investments Can Help Manufacturers Accelerate In Times Of Disruption

Organizations that produce complex products have often struggled with how to make their processes more streamlined. Whether that is on the product design side, or the selling side, the number of possible product configurations creates complications when trying to scale.

But what happens when the world economy is suddenly disrupted in unanticipated ways? How do you continue conducting business when your employees are no longer working in an office, but rather, from remote places? And how do you continue to make your top line numbers when your sales staff can no longer make customer calls, or your showrooms are permanently closed?

While these may seem like “unanticipated consequences,” in fact, it is just these scenarios that technology has been preparing for. With the right systems in place, virtual collaboration, new product development, and remote work changes from being a road block to a competitive advantage.

Collaboration Nation

Collaboration is at the heart of every business function, and is especially critical when physical separation is becoming the new norm. Whether it is in marketing, engineering or manufacturing, having a real-time collaboration platform facilitates speed, efficiency and growth. 

A recent McKinsey article reported many respondents mentioned the benefits of greater remote and online working. One said remote working “ushered in a new paradigm where the best experts from anywhere in the world can easily offer perspectives on how to resolve complex production problems.

Another respondent at a different company described moving testing and design processes online, using remotely accessed data, computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided management (CAM), and design-review programs. The company also used online tools to review plant operations, rather than making in-person visits.

WFA: Work From Anywhere

While the recent pandemic may have hastened its adoption, there is no doubt that those who had in place systems and processes that support remote work are now realizing even greater benefits.

In our experience, we have seen our customers who have put in place the right tools and solutions be more prepared and, in some cases, continue business as usual despite the global challenges. Due to the unique nature of configurable products, our customers who have implemented a CLM solution that places all configuration data in one location, they are still able to connect and share that data throughout their organization. They can still make service calls based on 100% accurate configuration data, and are continuing to work on the latest product models to release into the market.

The Need For Speed

But how do you not just maintain your business operations, but continue to develop and introduce new products when everyone is working from their home or the local coffee shop? 

By rethinking ways of working and reimagining organizational structures, companies can speed up and delegate decision making, flatten structures and unleash nimble, empowered teams. McKinsey’s survey noted two exceptional examples. An aerospace company radically streamlined processes to design, test, and install new passenger-facing features on aircrafts, including touchless boarding, self-cleaning surfaces, and redesigned security-screening procedures. In addition, one executive spoke of going from 30 handoffs to just three and reducing new-product cycle times from more than 20 weeks to five. 

Now is not the time to ‘wait and see’. Now is the time to secure your IT systems and processes to adapt to today’s environment, while also ensuring this new way of working can scale for the long term. If you haven’t future-proofed your business, it isn’t too late. Invest in today’s technology for tomorrow’s post-pandemic economy.