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Is digital strategy important? When it comes to using new technologies effectively, it’s vital.

As a result, Managing Director of EDGE Digital Manufacturing, Steven Barr, set up Made Smarter’s digital strategy workshops. The EDGE team is now helping our advisers as they work directly with manufacturers throughout the North West.

Here, Steven explores why these workshops are making a substantial difference to the region’s makers – as well as the many benefits that its delegates are experiencing.

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Without the strategic view you achieve from digital roadmapping, upgrading to Industry 4.0 technologies can seem like too complex a task. SMEs can remain stuck in the past and miss out on significant improvements.

Steven Barr, Managing Director of EDGE Digital Manufacturing
Why is digital strategy important?
  • A different view

    It’s hard to escape the buzz around new technologies. Time and again, I’ve seen manufacturers get inspired by their peers, competitors or vendors, and yet quickly run into a stumbling block as they try to implement digital technologies themselves. Even if a company intends to embrace digital from the outset, they may not have the strategic approach required to adopt and use these technologies cost-effectively.

    Some more established businesses, which have been around two or three decades, often have a more conservative view. They may be known for advanced manufacturing and product innovation with a high degree of automation, but need a little more help when it comes to getting started with Industry 4.0 tech.

    If you fall into one of these categories, then our digital strategy workshops have been designed with you in mind. It can help you strategically see how to create value across your business operations and forward that value on to suppliers and customers. Digital roadmapping even helps position improvements that may have very little to do with digital, and yet are essential to drive your business forward.

  • A comprehensive understanding

    With a digital roadmap, you can figure out when and why you need technologies and how best to get started with them. You’ll not only discover the ‘output’ benefits, like improved productivity and bottom-line profitability, but other advantages like developing your team’s skill sets and strengthening customer and supplier relationships. It’s definitely easier to make the right decisions when you’re more aware of the impact that your investment (both in terms of time and money) will have.

    Another benefit is Made Smarter’s use of a digital readiness questionnaire to help you benchmark your position relative to other businesses. You can see how you can make better use of digital technologies in all aspects of your SME – from leadership and strategy, to customer and supplier processes, to people and innovation, and ultimately to value and risk management.

    Digital strategy has helped many companies make their business case for investment in digital, and all the organisational and personal changes that go with it. For those seeking funding, such as that offered by Made Smarter, having a clear purpose and approach to achieving a strong ROI is crucial.

  • A big-picture plan

    Without the strategic view you achieve from digital roadmapping, upgrading to Industry 4.0 technologies can seem like too complex a task. SMEs can remain stuck in the past and miss out on significant improvements.

    But if you develop a digital strategy, you have a vision of how to move forward progressively and sustainably. Investment in the right technologies at the right time is tied in with leadership training, technology selection and management support for the roll-out. Through this, you can accelerate your digital journey and avoid expensive mistakes.

    A further benefit of a digital strategy is that you can recognise potential challenges (like more demanding customers, outdated machinery and labour shortages) before you run into them. Rather than leaving these as problems to encounter later down the line, you can consider how new technologies can help ahead of time. 

  • A competitive advantage

    Today, manufacturing is a competitive global market. Exports are more important than ever since our departure from the EU too. Alongside this shifting landscape, there’s a growing expectation that manufacturers will use technology to both reduce costs and engage in business.

    Customers might require you to respond in real time to changes to their orders. You may need something similar in place for your suppliers, or at least a reliable system for stock control. The future for our industry is digital: we all need to keep up if we want to stay in business, and ahead of the game.

  • A way to engage and entice staff

    Of course, buying advanced digital technologies is one thing. Getting the skills to operate them is another. Robots don’t take over people’s jobs – they make for better and more satisfying roles, which is why Made Smarter believes in people and technology.

    There’s a need for personal change in operating modern equipment, and new skills in ensuring team members can capitalise on the data that they generate. But, most importantly, businesses need to empower their people to make a difference by encouraging innovation. Some ‘digital natives’ will immediately thrive, whilst others will need training and coaching to find their new niche.

    For all these reasons, Made Smarter’s one-day digital strategy workshops continue to be incredibly popular and effective. We can help you unlock these benefits too. Our advisers are on hand to help you determine your own path forward with digital technologies. To find out more about us and our workshops, get in touch today.

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