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Digital engineering in discrete manufacturing – novice or front runner?


So much has been written about how to become a digital business in discrete manufacturing.  The difficult question is knowing what to do to become a digital engineering enterprise, whether you are starting on your journey or enhancing any progress you’ve already made.

The first part of the challenge is to identify exactly where you are on the digital journey. It’s likely that if you are a business leading the charge towards innovation in the world of Digital/Industry4.0, you are already familiar with your position and your goals.  However, you may well also be a business that has a digital strategy, transformation roadmap with some useful tools, and seem to be well along the road to digital nirvana, yet you are not getting the benefits that you anticipated.

In the new “Digital Engineering Report – May 2018” from Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Institute, a survey of over 1,000 companies around the world goes some way to explain the differences between organizations that are at different points on the digital transformation journey.

Each of the survey respondents categorized themselves on six axes:

  1. Vision, leadership, and transformation plan – a well-articulated vision, bought into across the organization
  2. Digital culture – openness, flexibility, experimentation, agility, and collaboration
  3. Digital continuity – using tools and methods to support digital continuity across the whole product lifecycle
  4. Smart, connected products – software and IT capabilities to take advantage of this servitization revolution
  5. Voice of products – being well-equipped to take full advantage of usage data from smart, connected products
  6. Digital ecosystem – working with a range of partners (including start-ups) across networks, around both product and service development.

I find it intriguing to see how few companies would describe themselves as “well-equipped to take maximum advantage of the burgeoning of multiple technologies that can enable better business performance, greater productivity, reduced cost of non-quality; as well as enable digitally capable companies that take advantage of the global market.”  In other words, being a mature digital engineering business enhances your position in the market.

So, what makes the difference between the best, the rest, and the worst?  The results of the survey of 1,000+ companies were classified into four levels of maturity:

  • Novices
  • Pacers
  • Challengers
  • Front-runners

Defining these at a high level:

  • Novices need a clear, well-articulated vision that everyone can buy into. 
  • Pacers should focus on building digital partner ecosystem and a digital culture.
  • Challengers may have all of the above, but need to develop the digital talent to exploit the vision and culture
  • Front-runners are doing this already but cannot stand still.  The pace of change is ramping up continually.  Standing still is falling behind

Getting an independent review of where your organization is on the road to becoming a digital engineering enterprise, or how to optimize the investments you have already made in proofs of concept, trials, and prototypes, could help you to prioritize the challenges you’re facing. I’d happily help talk you through how the findings of the survey relate to your organization and consider next steps specific to your organization.

Notably, Capgemini UK will showcase our global, digital supply chain capability at the ThinkX Innovation Sky Lounge at the Aviator Hotel, Farnborough International Airshow, on July 17–18, in conjunction with SAP. Through real-time demonstrations, we will show you how to better know your product and its provenance, wherever it is in its lifecycle. Again, please contact me to find out more about attending this informative event.