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Slow Down to Speed Up Your Digital Transformation

20 years of evolution in two years

Blake Moret, CEO of Rockwell Automation

Industry 4.0 leaders must constantly balance longer-term strategic planning & alignment with short-term investments & execution to generate immediate value. External market conditions usually tip the pendulum in one direction or another. In stable markets, digital transformation moves at a measured, sometimes sluggish, pace. Turbulent market conditions trigger more rapid, uneven transformation.

Three years ago, we were in the midst of a world-altering event that shook up our way of life and every industry that makes up our economy. The manufacturing industry was among those most acutely affected. Supply chain disruptions, labor shortages and spiraling costs have and continue to create unique pressures that are forcing manufacturing leaders to react to unprecedented times with unprecedented digital transformation.

Read Rockwell's recent State of Smart Manufacturing 2024 report to learn more about how leaders are planning to invest in smart manufacturing technology.

Over 50% of those respondents have already invested in process automation, cloud technology, IoT & machine learning / artificial intelligence.

Complication: Isolated Successes & Stalling Momentum

While manufacturing leaders have embraced the potential of smart technology, few organizations have delivered on the promise it offers. In the above report, only 10% of organizations reported having integrated smart manufacturing solutions. Point solutions with narrow applications, overwhelming data volume & velocity and talent shortages still make up a vast majority of increasingly “smart” manufacturing facilities.

We find most manufacturing transformation programs fall into one of two scenarios.

Scenario 1

  • Executive sponsorship in place
  • Funding is secured
  • Program is resourced
  • Roadmap guides the work
  • Use cases identified and prioritized
  • Effectively utilizing agile methodology
  • Change management work stream embedded in program

Scenario 2

  • Program momentum stalling
  • Leadership increasingly impatient for digital transformation results
  • Proofs of Concept successes are isolated & not programmatic
  • Struggling to scale program successes
  • Difficulty securing funding & sponsorship
  • Transformation objectives not aligned across corporate & plants

If your organization is in Scenario 1, KEEP GOING. Your digital transformation program is well-positioned to keep swinging the pendulum toward use case delivery execution & scale-up.

If you are suffering from one or more symptoms of Scenario 2, it may be time to SLOW DOWN, take stock of lessons learned and align a strategic path forward.

Solution: Slow Down to Speed Up

Paradoxically, taking the time to slow down and carefully craft a cohesive, aligned roadmap can accelerate the journey toward a more efficient and agile future.

We believe an effective digital manufacturing strategy should focus on identifying high-value digital use cases that come together in a connected capability ecosystem (people, process, data, technology). Each use case should be contextualized in a broader enterprise architecture, capability roadmap and case for change.

Example use cases:


Example Use Case

Potential Enabling Technologies

Business Drivers

Planning & Resource Optimization

Worker Allocation Optimization Engine

Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), Learning Mgmt. System (LMS), Advanced Analytics (AI / ML)

  • Reduced re-work cycles
  • Reduced (equipment & employee) downtime

Connected Workforce

Digital Work Instructions & Logbooks

CMMS, Extended Reality (XR), Mobile Device, Data Mgmt. Platform

  • Reduced mean time to repair
  • Increased first time right rates

Advanced Simulation & Emulation

Virtual In-Line Process Testing (e.g., bottling & filling process)

3D Modeling Tool, Simulation Platform, Product & Process Data Mgmt. Platform, Advanced Analytics (AI / ML)

  • Reduced # of physical trials
  • Increased first time right rate

Asset Monitoring

Failure Mode Event Prediction

CMMS, Internet of Things (IoT), Data Mgmt. Platform, Advanced Analytics (AI / ML)

  • Improved overall equipment effectiveness (OEE)
  • Reduced (equipment) downtime

Sustainability & Energy Management

Demand Response & Load Management

IoT, Data Mgmt. Platform, Advanced Analytics (AI / ML)

  • Reduced energy consumption
  • Reduced peak demand charges

Source: Kalypso’s digital transformation use case inventory, which includes 100+ use cases and accompanying benchmarks

In this handful of use case examples alone, we see the Internet of Things (IoT), Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), data management platform and advanced analytics (AI/ML) show up as enablers three to four times each.

All too often, point solutions are developed for each use case, leading to redundant systems & tech stacks, complex integrations and compounding technical debt.

We find organizations are most successful when guided by a:

  1. Prioritized List of Digital Use Cases: Bring together cross-functional leaders to force rank digital use cases with consideration to business value vs. ease of implementation.
  2. Converged IT/OT Architecture: Break down IT and OT barriers with an open architecture powered by the digital thread.
  3. Multi-Phase Roadmap: Build a holistic capability roadmap (people, process, data, technology) with phases tied to business outcomes.
  4. Business Case: Align key value drivers and set achievable quantitative targets that can be measured and tracked.

Outcome: From Incremental Benefit to Transformational Value

In a 2019 report, Gartner shared that businesses move twice as fast on their digital transformation journey once the staff and management collectively understand the importance of their digital path ahead. Our observations from the field align with this conclusion.

We find that slowing down a few months to shape a strategy can help organizations transition…



Individual charters and differing opinions on transformation priorities

A cohesive vision grounded in business priorities that aligns executives and change agents across the organization

Disjointed initiatives competing for scarce resources

An overarching value case and roadmap that contextualizes priorities and accelerates path to value

Point solutions with narrow applications

A scalable platform for change, including IT / OT architecture, organizational structure and partner network

As we transition from a reactionary environment during the pandemic to a landscape of rising inflation and economic uncertainty, executives will demand aligned digital programs driving quarterly value drops and self-funding roadmaps.

When done right, we have seen our clients achieve both top-line growth, like 30% increase in factory throughput, and operational excellence, such as a 12% reduction in operating expenses and a 50% increase in OEE, through their digital transformation journey.

As your organization takes its next step, consider slowing down with a digital manufacturing assessment and strategy & strategy to align your organization and speed your path to value realization.