Led by Karen Norheim of American Crane
After brief introductions, Karen kicked off the chat by why digital transformation is so important for USA Manufacturing. @ZeroSurge said “Digital transformation is crucial for every manufacturer that wants to stay competitive in today’s industry. This is due to the various efficiency and productivity boosts these technologies offer. Fortunately, these solutions are becoming more cost effective too!” Karen agreed and added “Pace of change in our industry demands we embrace new tech or get left behind. It is critical to competitive advantage and business viability today and in the future.”
Question two asked, “What is your approach to enabling digital transformation?” The most popular responses included constantly adapting and changing to stay up to date with current and future trends as well as frequently updating websites and other digital platforms. Karen’s answer was “At @American_Crane we embrace “crawl, walk, run” approach. We have an innovation lab to play with new tech (crawl), then we learn/pilot business use (walk), last we incorporate into our process (run).” She also noted it is important to have space where you can encourage your team to learn and grow and also mentioned the importance of prioritizing initiatives for the most impact.
Next, Karen asked “What do you think are the biggest hurdles to digital transformation and embracing industry 4.0?” @SpaceGuard said, “…I feel that you have to understand that people prefer their information differently. I feel that trying to get your message across has to come in all different forms. Some people are readers, some are visual, and some are listeners. Know your audience.” And @ObsidianMfg added, “Our biggest hurdle is implementing change. Some employees view that word as a four-letter evil word. “Focus on the solution, not the problems along the way.” Karen addressed both sides with her response stating “It is a cultural problem, not just a tech problem. Need to be open to possibilities which bring accelerate innovation & rapidly change. Feels risky but have courage, don’t be afraid to fail, be willing to learn.”
Karen then asked “Which areas of your business to you focus on for digital transformation?” @DynamaticOEM stated that “Our focus is on social media and our website for now. We haven’t seen much “transformation” on either for a long time. Now we have a great team working together to put us on the map.” And Dan at @CVTPlastics shared that marketing and advertising are their top priority at the moment but plan to “get more digital in production and other facets of the business.”
According to Karen, “It can effect whole business. From marketing to accounting, how you invoice, to sales, to shop floor productivity. Focus on scalability & build solid foundation blocks that you can build upon as time and money permit. They key to not being overwhelmed is to look for areas where you have problems to solve, fix what bugs you this can start you down the path to finding solutions that are a good fit and help the business.”
Karen’s final question asked if and how Covid-19 has affected their company’s digital transformation. Answered varied from slowing the company down, to not affecting them at all. Ruby with @SocialSMktg responded with advice for small businesses to simply pivot their focus, noting it is much harder for large companies to do the same. @cdncmachine added “Our marketing and advertising hasn’t been affected, that team has always worked from home but our shop efforts have been hampered a bit by it. Step back, re-group, and move forward again.”
Karen chimed in adding that Covid forced them to embrace new tech and actually catapulted forward. Noting that it “led to unexpected jump in team productivity & process improvement”
Karen closed the chat by saying, “Digital transformation is comp advantage. If it seems hard, take baby steps, crawl, but don’t wait. If you don’t start, you just get further & further behind. Which can lead to improved culture efficiencies & profitability. And remember “digital transformation” can mean a lot of things. Figure out what it means to you and your business. Learn and educate yourself on Industry 4.0 and this will help to part the clouds and shine light on what might help your company.”
You can connect with Karen Norheim on Twitter at @karennorheim or by finding her on LinkedIn!
The #USAMfgHour chat, held every Thursday from 1-2 PM Central Time is managed by @CVTPlastics , @SocialSMktg and @DCSCInc. We’re always looking for new hosts to join this exicting event and thank everyone who participates.