Many medium-sized and larger companies are hesitant to take the first steps towards digital transformation. Particularly in the case of established and well-running traditional companies, development can come to a stagnation: “Everything is going so well at the moment! Why should we change production now? Why do we have to start digitalization now?” Precisely when everything is going well is the best time to maintain the existing advantage over competitors in the market. The following five steps show you how to start.

1. In the beginning there is curiosity

Everything is going well in your company: Machines are running stable, production is running smoothly, the employees are well-rehearsed and satisfied, and the figures are correct? Great, congratulations! Now is the best time to be curious about the digital future because there’s even more: digital transformation can unlock potentials that have never been seen before. Often, small digital steps are sufficient to open up new paths and, for example, to harvest data. After all, data can be used both to optimize processes and to develop new business models. No machines need to be exchanged for this data harvesting. Be curious about the possibilities offered by retrofitting, the digital retrofitting of your existing machines. In your company, there is more potential than you might imagine.

Alte Maschinen

2. Analysis: Unlocking potential through digital transformation

Schalter zur Digitalisierung

Transforming a company does not mean throwing away everything that runs well. Digital transformation means redefining everything that works well and to show new ways that may not have been thought of before. It all starts with an analysis of the processes. Every manager can do this with his employees by themselves: Where do we lose time? Where are the paths too long? In addition: Which data do we want to harvest? Where can we harvest data? What can we do with it? In every company, there is a need for optimization, which could not be achieved in an analog way until now. Even small initial steps towards digitization can provide new, large-scale solutions.

3. Take time for creative exchange of ideas

Thinking together is best. Often, the IT and technology experts in the company are not those who get the ideas on digital transformation. Get your employees into a brainstorming session to look at the company from different perspectives with creative thinking. Partners and customers can also give valuable impulses in a joint digitization think tank, which can lead to completely new projects and cooperation. Also, collecting approaches which are not obvious at first glance or that cannot be easily solved can be helpful later on. The best ideas for the first steps into digital transformation often emerge from initial rough drafts.

Brainstorming zur Digitalisierung

4. Bring Industrial IoT and retrofitting professionals on board!

Profis für die Digitalisierung

First ideas and considerations have been collected, now you don’t know what can be implemented in what way? This is the right time to get experienced digital experts on board who are familiar with the necessary software as well as the adaptation and design of hardware. Demand and feasibility can be analyzed in joint workshops. Using Design Thinking and Rapid Prototyping, initial drafts for possible solutions can be presented quickly. On this basis, far-reaching and forward-looking decisions can be made with a good feeling, setting the course for gentle and sustainable digital transformation.

5. Prioritize – and start

It can, but does not have to start with machine learning, big data, and artificial intelligence. Just get rid of the paper at the beginning. Lengthy and error-prone paper processes still cost many companies a lot of time and effort – and constantly growing analog storage space in the form of folders and shelves. The paperless office not only saves space and many work steps: it can also provide the best foundation for a long-term sustainable digitalization process. Data obtained from production can be used efficiently. Statistics and analyses quickly map the most sensible next steps in your company’s digital transformation. Another approach can be provided by focusing on predictive maintenance: If your systems can precisely predict when they need maintenance, you gain a high level of planning reliability for your company and your partners.

Paperless Office

Conclusion: Digitization does not mean turning the whole company upside down

Digitization does not have to be a hard cut that turns a company upside down. With well-measured and long-term first steps, it is easy to see which paths into the digital future are the safest and most efficient for your company. If everything is going well, the path to digitalization can be approached in a relaxed and concentrated manner.

Sometimes, however, it simply has to go a little faster. If a supplier breaks away and so does a familiar business model, then you need to get creative quickly and call in a digital transformation task force to help. We will tell you about this in our next article.

Your next steps are now clearer to you and you would like advice, creative and professional input for your first steps into digitization? Get our team for Strategic Consulting on board. In one-on-one meetings and various workshops that are suitable for you, we will accompany you and your team in the development of an individual strategy.