Digital Transformation for Manufacturing Companies: The First Step

March 1, 2018
Cloud, IT Services, Manufacturing

In the age of robotics, drones, 3D printing and other technologies, it’s hard to believe so many manufacturers have been slow to embrace digital transformation. They know they can no longer rely on old school processes and paper-based information. So why the hesitation to do something about it and take advantage of the many IT solutions for manufacturing that exist?

For some, it’s due to a lack of in-house resources or expertise to guide the change. Other companies have been too busy with “business as usual,” keeping up with current orders and making sure the pipeline is full. Still others think digital transformation is cost prohibitive or isn’t relevant to the kind of work they do.

However, as the saying goes, “time waits for no one.” And that includes manufacturers. There are few, if any, that couldn’t benefit from emerging technologies and some of the advanced IT solutions for manufacturing on the market. All companies must be increasingly responsive to their customers’ demands and provide “great customer experiences” that will encourage loyalty. They must increase their agility to adapt to changing market conditions and new trends.  They must drive more efficiency and reduce errors throughout all their operations.

Digital transformation can make that happen, and it starts with the cloud. 

Getting Started with the Cloud

Cloud services can facilitate workflow automation and the digitization of manual and paper-based processes. They can enable greater collaboration across multiple facilities and geographies. They can provide the power for big data analytics, cognitive computing, sensor technology, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other emerging technologies and trends.

They can lower costs and generate cost savings. (Think OpEx instead of CapEx.) Done right, cloud services can also help with regulatory compliance requirements and much more.

Here’s how to get started.

  • Whether your organization is resource- or time-challenged, or you are just a bit nervous about venturing into the unknown, consider working with a third-party cloud services provider (CSP). Look for one that has experience working in the manufacturing industry, and understands the challenges, needs and trends. Even more important, go with one that specializes in developing customized solutions. Your company is unique. So are its needs.
  • Ask the CSP to work with you to review your IT systems and how they are meeting your current and future needs.  Not every CSP offers these kinds of assessments or will review your IT services portfolio. However, it’s well worth it to find those that do and make the upfront investment (which typically isn’t all that much) to get a baseline evaluation of what you have and determine what you may need. Your CSP can also provide you with information on how to conduct a business audit
  • Consider a pilot project or two. This will allow you “learn” more about how the cloud works and the tangible benefits it can provide. (Your CSP can make recommendations for easy-to-implement, low-disruption projects that can generate quick wins.) Then, use these early successes to build a business case for moving ahead with more and bigger initiatives. 
  • If you’re not comfortable handing everything over to a CSP, consider employing the professional servicesof one. Some CSPs offer teams of experts who can take on special projects, like building an on-site private cloud or handling a data migration. Or, lean on the CSP for staff augmentation assistance.

Once your first project or two are completed, it’s a good idea to make sure you have a solid disaster recovery plan and data protection strategy in place before going too much further. Data is the lifeblood of your organization, so you don’t want to leave anything to chance.  Cloud services can help here too.

Make Your Move to the Cloud

To learn how to use the cloud to start your company’s digital transformation, talk to a US Signal solution architect. Just call 866.2. SIGNAL or email [email protected]