Across industries, operations managers understand that “digital” has indeed unlocked a new wave of performance improvement opportunities. IoT technologies make it possible to leverage the wealth of data hitherto locked in production equipment and improve their reliability, performance, and flexibility. Early pilot initiatives have demonstrated that digital technologies help build on the foundations laid by Lean Manufacturing and extend those benefits to entire facilities or even to end-to-end supply chains.

To scale beyond the initial successful pilots, companies realize that they need to bridge the age-old IT/OT gap and achieve seamless integration across the manufacturing “stack” while drastically improving its flexibility and scalability. Here again, IoT technologies make it possible to envision progressive transition—starting with high-impact analytics solutions deployed alongside the existing stack and progressively building a modern  manufacturing operations platform.

However, technology is just an enabler; digital transformation will also require a profound evolution of management practices, where data-driven decisions become the norm. This will require that data analysts get out of the IT department and become deeply integrated in operations, leveraging the capabilities of the operations platform to constantly improve supporting analytics and applications. The digital revolution will not be limited to operations, but rather will extend to the entire lifecycle of production assets.

Digital twins will shorten the time-to-first-product of complex production facilities and make it possible to proactively manage their entire lifecycle. The next frontier is not just about optimizing the production of a given product; it is also about shortening the time-to-market of ever faster-changing and more segment-specific products.