The future of digital transformation is happening now, and it is driving the future of all industries. This article highlights just about everything you need to know about the impacts and trends involving digital transformation.

No matter where your company resides on its digital journey – or even if you have yet to start with digital transformation, this article is just for you.

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation refers to the concept of applying innovative uses of digital technology to solve traditional business problems.

For example, in a narrower sense digital transformation might refer to a simple concept such as ‘going paperless’. Yet, on a larger scale, it might refer to ‘achieving digital business maturity’.

Digital solutions not only enable organizations to achieve new levels of efficiency through automation, but they also open doors for creativity and innovation (rather than simply enhancing and supporting traditional methods).

Although applying the use of digital technology to solve traditional problems can offer numerous business advantages, many organizations have yet to begin the journey with digital transformation.

Digital Innovation: Where to Start?

With numerous applications, methods, and strategies, it can be difficult to know where to even start with digital transformation!

If this is the case with your organization, – don’t worry, you’re not alone.

According to a research study performed by Accenture and the World Economic Forum, 80% of executives stated they were completely convinced ‘digital’ advancements would fundamentally change and transform their industry within the next 5 years!

That’s right. Eighty percent! … And they’re not wrong at all!

In fact, digital technology has not only already begun to transform industries, but it has also started to transform the way the world experiences products. Despite the ability to recognize the effects that digital processes will bring, only 17% of the studied executives stated they had a strategy in place to address the challenge of digital transformation.

This left a shocking 87% to admit they had no current digital strategy in place whatsoever! This is exactly why, if you have not yet started your digital transformation journey, it’s important to realize A) It’s not too late and B) You are not alone. There is no better time to start than now!

Organizations are realizing the significant impacts that the digital transformation era brings and how it’s going to drastically change just about everything when it comes to the way we do business.

The Impact of Digital Transformation

The process of digital transformation is creating entirely new ways of doing business. It has begun to create new experiences for customers while adding entirely redefined value propositions for mature product segments.

This era of digital transformation has started to impact and define what products are and what they mean to businesses and consumers.

Product perceptions are changing

Digital trends have also started to influence purchase decisions and sales processes. As the digital world has advanced, the average consumer is making purchase decisions with a Product as a Service (PaaS) mindset.

This means the rise of digital transformation has driven consumers to be sold by the outcome of the product – the recurring value. Manufacturers can address this shift in the market demand archetype by embracing three technology categories – Internet of Things (IoT), analytics, and mobile.

The future and advancement of technology is happening now

Established power plays and industry lines are beginning to blur. You cannot wait until some time in the near future to start your digital journey.

If your organization is going to succeed going forward, you won’t want to be left behind in this new industrial revolution, or you will fail.

Whether or not you’ve noticed if your industry has been affected yet, the key message is the effect of these disruptive technologies doesn’t discriminate one sector or industry. Every industry will see a major impact due to these digital technology advancements… And it is happening right now.

‘Business as usual’ is no longer an option. Organizations must adapt in order to survive.

The future of Digital Transformation: Smart, Connected Products

Digital transformation is reinventing products. Products from cars, to jet engines, to pumps, to heavy equipment, to medication, and more!

Machines, assets, and devices are starting to communicate, learn, and react to newly accessible context as they exchange and leverage data from sensors.

We are talking about the area of ‘living products’ – meaning transformative products that are responsive, collaborative, reactive, and responsible. Whether products are B2B or B2C, there will be a totally different process in the way we think about how our customers are using our products in the near future.

The future is now. Don’t let the opportunity slip away.

The first step in your digital transformation journey should be a strategic one. Understand where you are, where you want to be according to your current framework or understanding, and where you’d like to be as you embrace future technology and evolve with changing markets and new opportunities.

EAC Product Development Solutions would like to help you begin your transformation. We provide the people, technology, and services to make any transformation successful. The first step should be a Product Development System Assessment (PDSA). This will help you understand the opportunity that lies in front of you. Request more information on the PDSA today and start taking your digital transformation seriously.

Product Development System Assessment | EAC Product Development Solutions

Our Product Development System Assessment will help you start your digital transformation journey

These days product data is everywhere. Everyone seems to collect it, have a lot of it, but the question remains; how exactly can you ensure your organization’s product data is being put to good use?

It’s time to take your product development one step further by providing role-based data access, connecting your enterprise systems, and learning how to make the most of your product data. I am going to explain exactly how easy that is to do.

The current state of product data

Companies today have many different roles that require access to product data. This may include people outside of the typical roles of which you may be thinking.

Departments such as engineering, manufacturing, that’s a given, but expand your thinking to include operations, purchasing, and marketing. They all need data access in order to edit and consume information. Think about sourcing…I’ll stop there, but you get the idea.

Let’s focus on the engineering department for a moment.

People could be involved from the mechanical side, the electrical side, or even a quality standpoint. Beyond that, people need to either contribute or consume information that could include manufacturing, service, sales, and more.

We live in a world of complex role, and department specific enterprise business systems (such as ERP, MRP, SLM, ALM, CRM, Accounting, PLM and more)

Product data game-changers

Product data silos limit productivity – PTC & EAC have the answer.

PTC ThingWorx Navigate was designed to address data accessibility problems by providing simple role-based apps that deliver just the right information to different groups (or departments) in the way that they need

When non-engineering colleagues need access to vital information, they typically interrupt an engineer or designer with a request. ThingWorx Navigate eliminates that distraction and “double-billing.” Through role or task-based self-service applications, data can be securely shared with a team. That way non-expert teams can use a simplified user interface to access the product data they need, right when they need it.

To help accelerate product development processes and take product data even further, our company (EAC Product Development Solutions) has also created what we call EAC Productivity Apps that work alongside ThingWorx Navigate apps.

So what’s the difference between ThingWorx, ThingWorx Navigate and our EAC Productivity apps? 

This is a great question- I am going to try and paint the picture for you. 

First, it’s important that you understand what ThingWorx is and how it is different from ThingWorx Navigate. 

ThingWorx is the proper name of PTC’s Internet of Things (IoT) platform comprised of 5 components; foundation, industrial connectivity, analytics, studio, and utilities. It can basically connect any computer systems or physical assets as long as they have an API port or sensors streaming out data. There are many levels and combinations of each of these components, all serving unique business drivers. Please contact us if you’d like to talk through what you’re trying to do.

The foundation component is the heart of the ThingWorx loT platform used to make connections to ‘things’ which could be machines, products or software systems or pretty much anything with an IP address and a communications interface.

User interfaces to the data coming from these connections are displayed on websites called ‘mashups,’ created with ThingWorx foundation. You might know these perhaps as ‘data mashups’ or possibly as ‘data dashboards’. Simply put, Thingworx is the IoT platform that makes everything possible. (Here’s exactly what makes Thingworx the leading technology for industrial IoT)

Then you have ThingWorx Navigate

ThingWorx Navigate is the proper name of PTC’s applications that run off, or in other words, use the ThingWorx IoT platform.  You can learn more about ThingWorx Navigate by reading this data sheet. ThingWorx Navigate is a pre-packaged set of data interfaces (also known as apps or applications) built on an Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK). 

ThingWorx Navigate Apps use a Windchill (PLM) connector to extract product data for presentation to Windchill Product Lifecycle Management users.  

ThingWorx Navigate Solution. Thingworx Navigate real based apps for tooling developers, purchasing agents, quality inspectors, processing planners and more.

Fundamentally, ThingWorx Navigate Apps are all simply data and product information mashups created with ThingWorx. With ThingWorx Navigate you receive out-of-the-box apps that are instantly ready to be used with your PLM system. The idea behind these product lifecycle management apps is to ensure users can capture the complete functionality of their PLM (product lifecycle management) investment.

ThingWorx Navigate Apps eliminate user intimidation based on the complexity of PLM platforms like Windchill. They ensure organizations can easily make use of their big data

ThingWorx Navigate Benefits

ThingWorx Navigate PLM Apps include: 

View Design Files – A design file would be a format of a file that isn’t the native CAD format. This could be a staph or Induce or perhaps a 3D PDF 

View Drawing – Allows you to look at just drawings. This application pulls drawings from your Windchill PLM system.

View Part Properties – This feature allows you to look at part properties- as if you were hitting the ‘Information button’ next to a file.

View Parts List – Allows you to look at bills of Materials (BOMs) 

View Part Structure– With the View Part Structure App, ThingWorx is actually going into PDMLink and showing different aspects of a specific part instead of different ways of going at it (such as having to open several different tabs to get information). Using this application, you can get all your information together on one page. This feature also includes capabilities that cross-highlight part structures within your product. For instance, you could select a component and it would highlight that part and create a hyperlink that allows you to directly look at that specific part. This feature essentially creates a mash-up that takes information from different places inside of Windchill PDMLink and brings them together putting them on one screen, allowing you to have all your information at your fingertips.

View Document  & View Document Structure

Download this FREE ThingWorx Navigate eBook

If you would like to learn more about ThingWorx Navigate technology or if you have any questions, you can always request to talk with Thingworx Navigate specialists here.

PLM Applications created by EAC

Our EAC Productivity Apps (also known as product lifecycle applications) are also built on the ThingWorx technology platform.

They allow departments to access content and perform common tasks through a very simple interface, versus having to use a complex product lifecycle management system (PLM) or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. 

EAC Productivity Apps for Windchill

PTC Navigate Apps vs. EAC Productivity Apps

Our EAC Productivity Apps provide capabilities beyond that of the out of the box ThingWorx Navigate apps. 

In short, ThingWorx Navigate applications allow you to securely access and present role-specific data from your Windchill system. They provide all of the power of a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system to someone who is not familiar with its ins-and-outs of product data management. 

EAC Productivity Apps take it a step further by taking the underlying technology of ThingWorx Navigate, and the ability to get at the information in the PLM system and create even more complete applications that really give individuals instantaneous access to the information and product data they need to do their job. EAC’s PLM applications are created using PTC’s ThingWorx IoT platform, however, they can run independently of ThingWorx Navigate. 

These apps are unique to EAC

While built using the same ThingWorx foundation, ADK and [Windchill connector], they have their own look, feel and functionality.  These mashups are packaged and sold together as a collection. EAC Productivity Apps created for Windchill promote user adoption and amplify the return on the investment you’ve made in your Windchill system, as well as extending role-based visibility into relevant product data and the impact PLM has on your organization. 

Take your product data further with EAC Productivity Apps

Every subscription of EAC Productivity Apps includes free access to EAC Productivity Home. EAC Productivity Home is a proprietary framework, or launcher, for ThingWorx Navigate applications.

It sits on top of Windchill and Navigate to provide a fully configurable and responsive interface. Productivity Home simplifies user interaction and helps administrators maintain the user portal after upgrading to new releases of ThingWorx Navigate.

PLM App 'Quick Search'

The EAC Productivity App, Quick Search, provides a simple way for users to find content in Windchill. It removes the need for users to apply an understanding of how Windchill objects are related in order to find the information needed to do their job.

The Quick Search PLM application also allows users to search for components and retrieve information and file formats. For instance, if you were to grab a drive system and do a quick search, it’s going to find product information such as parts, EMP like documents, CAD files and more. See EAC Productivity Application Quick Search in action here.

You can also learn more about the Quick Search features in this brochure.

The Quick Access EAC Productivity Application streamlines access to critical and select data sets. Simplifies downstream users feeding critical quality information back to engineering with minimal effort. 

This EAC Productivity App allows downstream users to feed critical quality information back to engineering with minimal effort. The simplified interface and consolidated task workflows help users easily submit new problem reports, new change requests, and new variances.

Here's an example of what a user might see using the EAC Productivity Application Quick Access
Here’s an example of what a user might see using the EAC Productivity Application Quick Access

For instance, you could select a component (such as a product), pick its name (the end item number), search for it, and you would get straight to assemblies. With the use of Quick Access users can easily submit new problem reports, change requests, variances and more.

You can learn more about Quick Access features in this brochure.

The Part Associations EAC application provides a “shortcut” for non-CAD users to access critical files and documentation associated with designs like drawings, parts, assemblies, and other documents associated with CAD files and part data.

Here’s an example of what a user might see using the EAC Productivity Application ‘Parts Association’

You can learn more about Part Association features in this brochure.

BoM Reports App provides a visual representation of cost roll-up for materials, and detailed informational listing of the items in a Bill of Materials. 

This EAC Productivity App allows users to quickly assess a Bill of Material and ensure projects stay on-time and on-track. The simplified view helps ensure products are built with the appropriate design iterations. With the use of BoM Reports users can easily see BoMs, lists of unreleased parts, parts that have been created or modified by specific users and more.

This app allows users to see the progress of a bill of materials, and apply filters to focus on parts that are not yet released. It is also useful for viewing all of the “make” parts or “buy” parts in a given BoM, or all parts created/modified by a particular user.

Here’s an example of what a user might see using the EAC Productivity Application ‘BoM Reports’

Get better access to your product data 

See all the features of EAC Productivity Apps for PTC Windchill by watching our short webinar below or contact us to start the conversation about how you can get better access to your data with ThingWorx Navigate and EAC Productivity Apps. (Quick Access, BoM Report, Part Associations, Quick Search)

It is not too bold to say the Internet of Things (IoT) is just about everywhere. Some even say that IoT will have a greater impact on business and productivity than the introduction of the Internet itself.

Whether you embrace it or attempt to look past it, the wave of IoT has already started disrupting many industries.

So what exactly is the Internet of Things? Well, if you haven’t read the HBR article by Michael Porter and Jim Heppelmann, I encourage you to do so.

I am referring to the concept that our physical and digital worlds, in which we have always compartmentalized into separate realities, have begun to converge into a single new reality.

This new reality with the IoT has started to change the way we do business.

Our strategies have begun to take our physical products, parts components and factories, and connect them to our digital systems.

This has allowed us to collect data, analytics, performance measures and much more.

Although there is so much that you can learn about IoT, Here are 10 things you need to know about the Internet of Things. 

1.  IoT Can Fuel Your Existing Business Initiatives

The Internet Things should not be thought about as something separate and distinct from your business strategy, but rather as an opportunity filled with unlimited capabilities.

This revelation could possibly be the exact catalyst needed to meet your existing business initiatives.

No matter what your business is specifically looking to achieve, IoT can be a real game-changer.

Some businesses have used smart connected operations to discover efficiencies while reducing risk.

Others have integrated smart connected products by modifying and creating new assets and services to increase revenue.

I have also seen companies incorporate smart connected solutions to quickly bring products and services to the market.

Despite your industry, an IoT strategy can be shaped to help fuel your existing initiatives.

2. Everyone Over Designs

Moving from IoT strategy to value is complex.

There are lots of distractions and rabbit holes to go down.

Achieving your IoT initiatives requires focus.

By this, I am referring to the importance of strategically mapping out the innovation that you are looking to drive.

Before deploying an IoT strategy, make sure to ask yourself if the concepts you are looking to implement match to the strategies you are pursuing.

3.  There Is No Time Like The Present

Don’t over think it, just get started.

Your company has a chance to take part in one of the greatest economic value adding opportunities of a lifetime.

This is your chance to embrace change and see all it has to offer.

Companies that are able to identify the opportunities and quickly bring to market solutions with IoT will be the leaders of decades to come.

4.  Think Wrap/Extend, Not Rip/Replace When it Comes to the Internet of Things

The idea behind integrating the IoT into your business strategy should evolve around bettering your processes, not replacing what you have done so far.

This is your time to pro-actively use the IoT to drive growth and optimize your current business operations.

5.  The IoT Stack is a Huge Help

The IoT stack is a handy way to break down any IoT project into manageable chunks. Think about it this way.

Before adopting innovative technologies your company must establish frameworks, protocols, and standards that are consistent with your business strategy.

Your framework should revolve around the problems your business is looking to solve.

By breaking down your IoT solution into 5 layers you can better understand the business technology tradeoffs that are needed at each level and the system as a whole.

6.  Zealots and Laggards Are Everywhere. Beware.

It’s easy to get distracted by the daily grind and to put off getting started.

Change is a scary thing for all of us, so it’s easy to procrastinate.

Doing nothing is one of the biggest threats when it comes to the Internet of Things.

The reality is, big change is what can define success.

Don’t let your company develop a reputation as a technical laggard in the IoT arena.

7.  Avoid The Simple Small Tool Sets

If you’ve ever heard the saying “go big or go home”, it defiantly applies to an IoT strategy.

So often I see companies who are hesitant to make a big change, resorting to small easy to adapt ideas.

If your company wants to see real results, you must avoid wasting your time on the small and simple projects.

Running test pilots to assess potential value is not how you will reach your real strategic initiatives.

To see change, you must make a change. This is when you need to roll up your sleeves and make a connection to your real business issues.

 8.  The Control Engineers Are The Key to Success

On IoT projects, get to the Controls engineer — this is who has the keys to unlock the room or path to data that might already exist.

Who is your control engineer? This is the person that brings together disparate systems within your network.

A good control engineer knows how to design, develop, and implement the systems that will control your specified applications, networks and machines.

9.  IoT is a Big Concept and Many Have Different Views

After introducing the concept of the Internet of Things to many different companies; it has become apparent there are many diverse views of IOT along with its purpose and benefit.

It’s important to remember that two people who seem to differ on the topic of IoT may simply be looking at opposite sides of the same spectrum.

IoT solutions offer limitless capabilities that can easily be tailored to your specific business needs.

This means what IoT can offer for your business, may be completely different than the purpose and benefit it can offer for another.

 10.   There Is Always a Way To Do Something with IOT

The Internet of Things can be applied to just about every business strategy that exists; it’s just a matter of working at it.

For example, IoT has been used for the complex systems of products like John Deer’s Farmsight to optimize the farm, to simple examples like the Babilat tennis racket that provides data about a player’s performance.

Device connectivity and data analytics enable a closed-loop, real-time digital thread that can connect your people, systems, and equipment across the entire supply chain.

With the rapid creation and developments of new IoT applications, any organization can connect, manage, and optimize complex sets of disparate systems.

See how IoT goes beyond connecting products and has expanded to enable manufacturing and service processes by reading these case studies from PTC.

When it comes to IoT, there is always a way to do something.