Digital transformation has become a buzzword in recent years, and for good reason. Companies that embrace digital technologies are more likely to stay ahead of the curve, differentiate themselves in the marketplace, and meet the evolving needs of their customers.

The benefits of digital transformation can be far-reaching, from improved customer experience to cost savings and increased efficiency.

In this blog, we will explore the various benefits of digital transformation, and why it is essential for companies to embrace this trend in order to remain competitive in the digital age.

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is a term used to describe the process of transforming an organization’s business model and operations through the use of digital technologies. It’s important because it can help you stay ahead of your competition, improve customer experience and attract new customers.

The benefits of digital transformation include:

  • Improved customer experience: Digital transformation can help you better understand and meet the needs of your customers. With the use of data analytics and other digital tools, you can gather insights into customer behavior and preferences, and tailor your products and services accordingly.
  • Increased efficiency and productivity: Digital transformation can automate many processes, reducing manual labor and freeing up staff to focus on higher-value tasks. This can lead to increased efficiency and productivity across your organization.
  • Competitive advantage: By embracing digital technologies, you can stay ahead of your competitors and differentiate yourself in the marketplace. This can help you attract new customers and retain existing ones.
  • Cost savings: Digital transformation can help you reduce costs by streamlining processes and eliminating unnecessary steps. This can lead to significant savings over time.
  • Innovation: Digital transformation can open up new opportunities for innovation and growth. By embracing new technologies and ways of working, you can develop new products and services that better meet the needs of your customers.

See how JR Automation saved seven figures with embarking on their digital transformation journey:

JR Automation saves millions with digital transformation – Case Study

Creating a Digital Transformation Roadmap

The first step to creating a digital transformation roadmap is to identify the scope of your transformation. What are you trying to achieve? What are the goals and objectives of your business? How will you measure success?

Once this has been determined, it’s time to set up a timeline for achieving those goals.

Once these steps have been completed, it’s time for action! You should now have a clear idea of what needs changing within your organization and how long it will take before those changes become visible.

Building a Digital Transformation Team

When you’re building your digital transformation team, it’s important to define roles and responsibilities. You’ll want to make sure that everyone understands their role in the process and what they are expected to do. For example, if someone is responsible for monitoring the performance of shop floor machines, they should know what the ideal OEE is of each machine, how they are going to collect that data, and how they are going to distribute it to enterprise decision makers.

It’s also important that you select team members who have complementary skillsets and experience levels. If one person has extensive knowledge of augmented reality while another knows nothing about it at all, this could lead to problems down the line when it comes time for them both to collaborate on projects together – and no one wants that!

Finally, creating a culture where collaboration happens naturally between team members will help ensure successful outcomes throughout your digital transformation project(s).

Adopting the Right Technology

The first step in digital transformation is choosing the right technology. You’ll want to consider:

  • Software: What are your current needs and how will they change over time? Will you need additional features or functionality?

  • Hardware: Do you have enough computing power and storage space for all of your data, or does it need to be scaled up or down depending on usage patterns at different times of day/year/etc.? Do you have sensors to track data that you need for production insight?

  • Tools: What tools do developers use to build applications on top of this platform (e.g., Creo vs. Solidworks)? How easy is it for them to integrate their code with existing systems like databases and messaging queues? Are there any security issues with using these tools – and if so, how can they be mitigated by using another tool instead (e.g., switching from MySQL database server software to Microsoft Azure).

Developing a Digital Transformation Strategy

The first step to developing a digital transformation strategy is to define the scope of the project. What are you trying to accomplish? What are your objectives, and how will you measure success?

These questions can help guide your organization through its transformation journey by setting realistic goals for both short-term wins and long-term gains.

Once you’ve defined what needs changing, it’s time for step two: defining how those changes will happen. This involves creating an action plan that includes timelines for each phase of implementation as well as resources required for each stage (e.g., time from IT staff).

Some companies may choose to tackle multiple projects simultaneously; others might choose only one area at a time depending on their resources available in terms of money/manpower/etcetera).

EAC Assessments help companies answer all those questions and how to get where they want to be.

Implementing the Digital Transformation Plan

  • Develop a timeline. The first step in implementing your digital transformation plan is to develop a timeline with milestones that will help you track progress.

  • Set goals and objectives for each milestone. Once you’ve established your milestones, it’s time to set goals and objectives for each one of them so that everyone involved knows exactly what needs to be done at any given time during the project.

  • Track progress regularly by reviewing dashboards or reports generated from data collected during testing phases of development projects (if applicable). It’s important not only for managers but also employees on lower levels within organizations who may not have access

Monitoring and Evaluating Performance

Monitoring and measuring performance is an important part of the digital transformation process. It allows you to identify areas where you are successful, and areas that need improvement.

Monitoring can be done using a variety of tools, including:

Adapting and Adjusting the Plan

As you progress through your digital transformation, there will be changes in the market that you need to respond to.

If a competitor introduces a new product or service, or if something happens in the industry at large, it may change how you approach your own strategy.

You might also find that your goals and objectives have changed since they were first set out; perhaps there’s been an increase in customer demand for something specific that wasn’t previously considered important enough for inclusion on the list.

The best way to handle these situations is by reviewing them regularly with other members of your team – and making sure everyone has input into decisions about how best to adjust course as needed.

Communicating the Benefits of Digital Transformation

In order to communicate the benefits of digital transformation, it’s important to understand who your stakeholders are and what they want.

If you’re working in an organization with a large number of stakeholders (such as a government agency), then there may be multiple groups that need convincing. For example:

  • The board wants to see results from their investment in IT infrastructure. They’ll likely be interested in metrics such as ROI and cost savings.

  • Executives want quick wins that will help them achieve their goals, but they also need proof that this new approach will work before they can commit time and resources to implementing it throughout the organization.

  • Employees want something tangible they can hold onto when explaining why this change is important for them personally (and why it matters).

Conclusion

Digital transformation is a powerful tool that can help you achieve your business goals. It’s important to remember that digital transformation is not just about implementing new technologies, but also about changing how you work and think as an organization.

Digital transformation requires commitment from everyone involved in the process – from the C-suite down through every level of your organization.

To be successful, it must be an ongoing effort rather than a one-time project or initiative. You will need to continuously innovate and improve what you’re doing if you want to stay ahead of competitors who are also pursuing digital transformation strategies.

In conclusion, digital transformation is becoming increasingly essential for companies to stay competitive and meet the needs of their customers in the digital age. However, the process of digital transformation can be complex and challenging, which is why EAC assessments can be extremely helpful.

By conducting an assessment of your organization’s current digital capabilities and identifying areas for improvement, you can develop a roadmap for digital transformation that is tailored to your specific needs and goals.

EAC assessments can help you identify gaps in your digital capabilities, streamline your processes, and develop new products and services that better meet the needs of your customers. By embracing digital transformation and leveraging the expertise of EAC assessors, you can position your company for success in the digital age.

Connected Solutions with IoT

The Factory of the Future is a connected world of everything.

We will explore the benefits of IoT in manufacturing, including asset monitoring and utilization, quality control, predictive analytics, automation, safety and compliance, OEE visibility and productivity, and more.

With IoT solutions, companies can achieve their Industry 4.0 goals and increase their bottom line.

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects, people and other assets that are connected to the internet. IoT allows you to collect data from devices and analyze it in real time.

The goal is to make processes more efficient by optimizing performance and reducing costs.

IoT can be used to monitor machines in factories, track inventory at warehouses or even monitor traffic conditions on roads. It’s also used for home automation tasks like turning off lights when you leave a room or adjusting your thermostat based on your location inside (or outside) the house.

IoT Ecosystems

An IoT ecosystem refers to the network of devices, sensors, software, and services that are interconnected and work together to collect, analyze, and act on data.

They are often utilized to gather data on connected assets, and tools in order to gain real-time insights into their condition for predictive maintenance purposes.

The goal of predictive maintenance is to detect and address problems before they cause equipment failure, downtime, or safety issues.

By predicting maintenance needs in advance, organizations can schedule maintenance during planned downtime, minimize the impact of maintenance on operations, and extend the lifespan of equipment.

Connected Products

A smart, connected product (also known as a smart object or SCoT) is a product, asset, or other object embedded with processors, sensors, software, and connectivity that allows data to be exchanged between the product and its environment, manufacturer, operator/user, and other products and systems[1].

Smart, connected products enable the comprehensive monitoring of a product’s condition, operation, and external environment through sensors and external data sources[2].

This technology stack provides a gateway for data exchange between the product and the user and integrates with other systems to enable a new level of customer experience[3].

Connected Factory

Similar to connected products, a smart, connected factory is a digitized manufacturing facility that uses connected devices, machinery, and production systems to continuously collect and share data.

This data is then used to inform and improve processes and proactively address any issues that may arise.

It is an interconnected network of machines, communication mechanisms, and computing power, which uses advanced technologies to analyze data, drive automated processes and learn as it goes. It uses the sensors and software of the connected products to bring together the factory floor.

A connected factory is implemented to track the overall equipment efficiency or effectiveness (OEE) of the factory.

A smart connected factory is the telltale sign of a manufacturing floor that is functioning at its most optimal ability.

Having access to data insights regarding production health helps companies optimize earnings and minimize production downtime.

Augmented Reality

Integrating augmented reality (AR) with IoT involves using sensors and other IoT devices to collect data from the physical world, which is then used to augment the user’s experience in the digital world.

For example, AR can be used to display real-time data from IoT sensors, such as temperature or humidity, on a user’s mobile device. When a cell phone or tablet uses Augmented Reality (AR) to display data, it overlays virtual information on top of the real-world view seen through the device’s camera.

This can be particularly useful in industrial settings, where workers can use AR to monitor the performance of machines, detect any issues immediately, and take corrective action. This kind of data can be turned into a Digital Twin.

Digital Twin

With a Digital Twin, you create an exact replica of a working product, process, or service as a simulated model in a virtual space that performs under real-world conditions.

A Digital Twin in manufacturing helps companies find performance issues, schedule predictive maintenance, reduce downtime, and minimize warranty expenses.

This allows anyone to take a digital version of your factory with you anywhere in the world and know the exact, real-time data of how it is functioning. This is extremely helpful for decision-makers who often travel and need to know how their factories are doing.

Additionally, a digital twin of your factory helps maintenance teams find precisely where an issue may have occurred by giving them visual prompts of where the problem is originating from.

The Benefits of IoT in Manufacturing

IoT has a plethora of benefits for manufacturers that overall saves companies time and money, and solves frustrations with outdated processes and siloed data.

Bellow are different ways the IoT solutions could benefit your production process:

Asset Monitoring & Utilization (AMU) & Real-Time Production Performance Monitoring
  • Gain real-time insights from connected assets and legacy systems such as your PLM and ERP systems to align your IT and OT systems

  • Make more informed decisions faster

  • Increasing flexibility and agility

  • Monitoring the status of inventory in real-time

  • Quality Control

  • Monitoring Distributed and Outsourced Processes

  • Spare parts management

  • IoT sensors allow organizations to gauge the specific use and deploy practices for more effective usage of resources.

Machine Learning & Predictive Analytics

By integrating machine-learning capabilities there is a whole new level of predictive intelligence brought to the factory floor – identified problems and resolved issues with minimal impact on operational performance. Other benefits include: 

  • Detect problems before they occur

  • This helps to maximize factory production utilize data analytics to perform predictive maintenance

  • Optimizing Maintenance Schedules

Automation & Connected Work Cells (CWC)

In manufacturing, many processes are streamlined with IoT technology. For example, one IoT strategy is to use Automation. With IoT, using sensors allows you to automate certain tasks such as temperature monitoring or product tracking.

This means less time spent on manual labor and paper-based processes while increasing productivity simultaneously!

Safety & Compliance

Making sure that machines are running at a safe capacity and within the compliance standards creates a well maintained work area that brings employee satisfaction and confidence in a safe workspace.

All these things can be tracked through IoT technology, along with others: 

  • Increasing energy efficiency of machines

  • Reduce human errors

  • Ensuring Products Comply with Set Standards

  • Increased employee and customer satisfaction

OEE Visibility & Productivity

A factory enhanced by IoT solutions offer complete visibility into all of your factory operations. You can see all of your work orders, lines, and all critical KPIs through dashboards that pull together 

IoT sensors allow organizations to gauge the specific use and deploy practices for more effective usage of resources.

  • Cost reduction

  • Increase bottom line

  • Decreased Machine Downtime

  • Optimizing Factory Production

  • Reduced lead time

  • Improved efficiency

  • Improvement of Operational Performance

These are just some of the many ways companies can reach their goals with Industry 4.0. With out-of-the-box solutions or even custom IoT apps, the possibilities are endless.

Implementing IoT

The first step in implementing IoT in manufacturing is to identify your goals. Are you looking to improve efficiency, reduce waste or increase profitability?

Do you want to improve customer satisfaction by delivering products on time, or do you want to create new revenue streams with data collected from connected devices?

Once you’ve determined what kind of impact IoT can have on your business, it’s time to evaluate the current technology that’s not only available but that easily integrates with your current systems and shop floor.

Finally, develop an action plan for implementing these strategies broken down into digestible phases. It’s critical to understand what solutions fit best and most align with your unique business and prioritized initiatives.

Common Challenges

We hear from companies all the time regarding what challenges they feel stops them from implementing IoT in manufacturing.

The first is cost. However, with any good investment, the benefits of using IoT solutions offset the cost. While IoT ROI doesn’t happen overnight, the full impact IoT has on manufacturing organizations is tenfold.

NORMA Group met with EAC experts to understand what sort of impact an IoT initiative would have on their business growth and determined the challenges were well worth the wait – something we find other companies can relate to. Another early adopter, JR Automation was able to save $1.4 million by investing in IoT.

Security

The second common challenge that comes with implementing IoT is security. This includes both physical and data security issues that need to be evaluated and addressed before implementing any type of data management change.

Finding a solution with integrated automated tools and detailed monitoring is key to preventing attacks. Check out this article that talks further about data security and how PTC’s Kepware supports cybersecurity.

Data Management

Another challenge we see is considering how well your organization will be able to manage the new information coming from all over your facilities. It’s key you create a plan to integrate the new data flow into your existing systems.

With user-friendly IoT-connected solutions like PTC Thingworx, data is captured, consolidated into a dashboard, and presented in a consumable visual format for real-time insights.

Hardware

Another consideration is requirements: What sort of hardware do you have to support that software change? Replacing or updating existing systems and hardware to increase efficiency may be necessary to keep up with the fast pace environment of shop floors.

There is no doubt that these are important things to consider when making enterprise-wide changes. While implementing IoT can feel difficult and intimidating, it does not have to be.

EAC has a number of business assessments that can help you evaluate your current state and create a highly strategic roadmap to successfully scale your digital transformation initiatives.

Ultimately, Digital Transformation is a game changer for manufacturing companies who are unsatisfied with the “status quo” – and IoT will open up major opportunities for long-term success and sustainable growth that would not have been possible without making changes.

Connected Future

Empower your organization with enhanced connectivity to your products, systems, and customers.

IoT can provide significant advantages for manufacturers across the enterprise, but it is important to properly evaluate, plan and implement the right technology and the right solution at the right time in order to maximize the potential benefits.

Our IoT consulting and connect services provide comprehensive support from extracting valuable insights, and developing strategic plans to executing and implementing efficient IoT solutions that accelerate your digital transformation.

Chat with one of our experts on how we can help you identify the best IoT solution for your needs and how we can help your company implement it the right way.

The very definition of many industries is changing in no small part due to the of the Internet of Things (IoT) and its’ ability to disrupt and generate new business opportunities. Industry leaders across the board are starting to embrace IoT projects, use IoT devices, and build smart connected products using IoT platforms.

This article references real IoT case study stories and internet of things examples from John Deere and Nike to provide you with a better understanding of how the IoT is starting to shake up and disrupt industries.

 To paint you a picture of exactly how the IoT is creating business opportunities for organizations today, let’s start with a company you might already be familiar with – John Deere.

Before the rise of IoT

John Deere has been making tractors and agriculture equipment for over 175 years.

For many years, though, they made simple tractors that weren’t ‘smart’ or connected products, they were just mechanical.

Soon enough, over time, John Deere’s products started to become smart and connected– changing everything for the organization.

Creating smart products & connecting devices

John Deere began to equip their products with digital dashboards, engine control units, sensors to alert users if they are running out gas, if oil pressure is too high, if hydraulic pressure is too low, etc.

By doing so, John Deere began to realize the countless benefits that came along with connecting their agricultural equipment to the internet of things, which eventually would provide the ability to remotely monitor the equipment’s performance.

Now remember, at this point, John Deer was still a tractor company, but as the organization moved forward with their vision of smart connected products, they also created what is called a smart connected product system.

The evolution of a smart connected product system & Digital Transformation

At the heart of John Deer’s product system is what is called a combine harvester. Their combine harvester harvests grain from fields, separates the head or the ear from the stalk, and divides the hulls, cobs, and the husks from the kernels of grain.

Today these smart connected combines have the ability to smartly monitor how many kernels came from a single patch of land, and how many kernels came from another.

In fact, they even collect, store, and send data to the cloud for the following season – so the machine is able to perform what is called a smart planting scheme.

During the smart planting scheme, the tractor hooks up to a tiler, which is basically a plow. As the plow works the soil, the equipment frequently fertilizes it, particularly with nitrogen. The equipment then follows its smart planting scheme – if the yield was low, nitrogen application should be high in a particular spot. If the yield was high, nitrogen should decrease.

Next from the connected product system comes the tractor pulling the planter that puts kernels in the ground for next year’s crop. It’s doing the same thing.

With a wide variety of seeds, the planter makes smart decisions for specific spots as needed. The smart connected equipment even knows when to use different drought resistant seeds in particular dry patches of land.

Smart products and the internet of things

John Deere created their own unique smart connected product system with the equipment they manufacture.  By using smart connected devices, sensors, and building on top of an IoT platform, they slowly started to connect their entire product line.

This breakthrough in farming equipment enabled their products to work together and share data back and forth.

Farmers are now able to correlate their inputs and outputs, while reducing inputs and maximizing outputs. This means productivity and profits.

Taking it a step further, John Deere designed a smart farm system where, depending upon commodity prices, the equipment has the ability to plants different seeds.

Farms that irrigate now have the ability to place sensors in the soil to that read moisture levels. Using this knowledge, the smart equipment is able to determine whether it should apply more or less water to particular locations.

Agricultural equipment can now even assess upcoming weather forecasts and determine if irrigation is critical.

New business opportunities with IoT

John Deere went from selling tractors to selling sophisticated information systems that can run smart farms.

With the technological advancements around today, a company like John Deere now has to determine the actual business they are in.

IoT presents new industry opportunity

Somewhere along the way, while developing smart connected products, John Deere became a software company and a systems integrator.

The internet of things presented John Deere with an opportunity to compete within an entirely new industry. 

In fact, some say with this the new industry opportunity, John Deere even has the ability to compete with other well-known IT system integrators – such as Accenture.

The internet of things and smart connected products present a very interesting phenomenon, that’s happening right now.

Homes are beginning to transition to smart homes. Automobiles are starting to become smart. It’s happening everywhere you turn, even if in some cases it might be very subtly, or slow.

Products are evolving

Nike is another great example of how the IoT has started to accelerate and transform organizations.

Historically, Nike has made shoes, clothes and sunglasses – but today, their product line is now much more than that.

For Nike, it’s no longer just about clothes and shoes anymore. Their products have evolved from fitness equipment to fitness monitoring systems – driving personal health and wellness goals.

They too, started connecting their products by adding sensors into their shoes, clothes, and Fuel Bands.  This has enabled their smart connected products to help people maintain physical fitness and health.

Businesses possibilities of IoT

With the real-world examples from John Deere and Nike, it’s easy see how businesses are starting to expand their industry boundaries with the internet of things.

The world is changing, smart connected products are continually evolving. What is your organization doing to stay ahead?

Explore the business possibilities of IoT for your organization

Organizations today are adopting valuable IoT solutions to lower operating costs, increase productivity, and develop new products.

The Internet of Things can offer your organization an opportunity to be more efficient whether its connecting devices with automated systems that gather information, analyzing IoT data, creating an action to learn from a process, achieving the pinnacle – remote control, support and maintenance.

We want to help you achieve your IoT objectives

Not sure what the advantages of IoT are for your organization? We would love to help you define and push your boundaries!

Our technology specialists are experts at devising what IoT solutions, devices, projects, and business models are best suited for your organization. Let’s have a conversation.

The internet of things and the capability to connect to the internet suddenly brings all kinds of new implications for products and their value.The internet of things is fundamentally changing how products function and how customers derive value from them.

How the internet of things is changing products and impacting what customers perceive as product value

Products today are becoming a combination of physical components, smart components, and connectivity components. Each of the 5 layers of the IoT stack plays a role — core product infrastructure, sensor systems, connectivity, analytics, and smart applications on an IoT platform.

While all three elements — Strategy, Connected Things, and true IoT platforms — seem somewhat elemental, balancing these will be central to the success of any IoT enabled business initiative.

For instance, look at a simple product, such as the light bulb.What is the product? In this case it’s the light bulb itself.What is the value of the product? I’m not talking about the monetary value, but rather the reason, need, or problem that drives the product purchase in the first place.

You might say in this specific case, the value of the product is the light that it provides, the illumination it creates, or perhaps the extension of functional hours it delivers.

What if we were to add connectivity to the product?By using an app on a device that controls the bulb via Bluetooth connection, you could now change the color of the light remotely.You could control the function of the light bulb with the sound of your voice.You could use the products new functionality to simulate the sunrise and replace your alarm.You could even sync the bulb to reflect your fluctuating stock prices! There’s a host of applications now available – just for a single light bulb.

Revisiting the original question, evaluating your new connected light, what is the product?Is it still just the bulb? What about the app that controls it, or the device that supports the application?It’s really an interesting question to consider.It’s really an interesting question to consider.For this same connected product, let’s talk about its value.

Again, I’m not talking the connected product’s monetary value, but rather the reason the product would be purchased in the first place.Would it still be just for the light or illumination, or is it the array of colors, new features and functionality?The fact of the matter is – the value of the product has changed.The connected product now adds value in the form of light, remote control, entertainment, and even overall experience.

How and Where to Start Developing IoT Strategies

Products and their value are changing

As a consumer shopping for an original bulb, you were most likely looking for a certain wattage or color (such as yellow or white) – not an experience.The connected product now adds value in the form of light, remote control, entertainment, and even overall experience.

Now that products are changing and you have systems of products: an app, a bulb, connectivity; the product value changes as well.You now have the ability to look for a light that can be synced to music or sound. A light that simulates the sunrise. A light that you can control from your device.You now need to weigh product value against a slew of new price points, features, and the support the manufacturer will provide over the years.

There’s no question that the value of products is changing because products themselves are changing. We’d like to help you map out this new world.If you’d like to do anything from brainstorm potential impacts to your business, develop a full strategy for IoT at your organization, create proof-of-concepts, or implement underlying technology… you’ve come to the right place.

We’re your partner in the ever-changing world of the internet of things.