However, some were on the opposite side of the spectrum and saw an increase in demand for products. For those organisations that saw a high demand it was imperative to identify ways in which to maximise throughput and productivity, to meet demand.
- Supply chain shortages
Those that found themselves in a position where they saw demand increase for a product also struggled.
Manufacturers found themselves in a position whereby their supply chains could potentially be disrupted or cut off. With such short notice it is difficult to switch supplies to get the raw material needed to manufacture a product.
Using technology to tackle these challenges
What became quickly apparent, were that different types of technology could be used to help address these challenges. For example, cloud-based SaaS solutions can help manufacturers tackle the challenge of working away from the plant floor by enabling staff to work efficiently in an isolated space just like normal. This could be quickly achieved through rapid procurement, deployment and training, typical with cloud-based solutions.
Each challenge comes with its own set of difficulties and overcoming them means manufacturers would need to pay particular attention to the functions, areas and processes where such technology solutions could have the greatest impact. By deploying technology solutions quickly to the areas with most need, urgency or benefit has led manufacturers to mitigate many of the avoidable impacts the pandemic is having on their businesses.
But this is an iterative process. Focusing on a single process, area or plant with the greatest opportunity, before extending out to include other processes, areas or plants. The outcome is a more gradual, tactical approach to digital transformation. As digital solutions are gradually deployed further across the enterprise, manufacturers are also moving closer towards their grand digital transformation vision.
This iterative and phased approach to digital transformation has a range of other benefits, including:
- It is quicker – the time to value can be realised faster than larger more complex digital transformation approaches.
- It is less risky – lessons can be learnt and changes made in areas where any negative impact is smaller before a phased expansion.
- It is easier to manage from a resource perspective, with the scope of each tactical implementation being smaller and more manageable.
- The learning curve is less steep for the teams deploying the technology and the teams using it within the production environment.
- These tactical deployments are less complex and less prone to unforeseen problems and issues arising.
An unexpected but favourable shift to digital transformation
The pandemic has been challenging for everyone. Those working in manufacturing, retail, hospitality, and or travel, to name a few, have experienced an uneasy 2020 where uncertainty and anxiety remains at the front of everyone’s mind. But the pandemic has also led to opportunity, accelerated through digital transformation initiatives. What was once a long-term strategy that organisations planned to implement over the course of years quickly became deployed in months, or even weeks. The result, or end point, may very well look the same, but how we got there was not as we expected.