Chalking the Field of Transformation
One early stall point for digital transformations is the abstract, opaque, and often overlapping terminology used to rally an organization to change.
For manufacturers, moreover, there is conflation in the terms: how does digitalization differ from Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing, IIoT, or even factory of the future? What’s in and what’s out of the field of play? (Interestingly, recent analysis of literature from management consultants – prolific patrons of jargon – quantified the frequency of trending terms. Spoiler alert: “Digital Transformation” is winning.)
However, as with most problems worth solving – or things worth transforming – specificity matters. Take as an example the issue of scaling advanced analytics in manufacturing. New MAPI research this spring will place a spotlight on paths forward for a well-known problem: the analytics skills gap.
Industry leaders have almost a refrain during the research interviews conducted to date: “well, how do you define analytics?” And the stakes are high. If “analytics” is conceived of as monolithic and uniform, then we may aspire to a singular enterprise solution to the skills gap. If there is consensus on different types of analytics and applications, the talent solutions probably need tailoring.
Here is where specifics advance understanding and action. Common use cases for different types of analytics – descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive, for instance – manifest in organizational functions in different ways. Descriptive is common, predictive increasingly valuable, but it’s prescriptive that is associated with optimization and AI, for example. The most acute skills shortfall is in the emerging area of prescriptive analytics, as the scarce skillsets are being scooped up by tech giants. Remedies for the skills gap must account for such differences.
Smart manufacturing, and smart factories, can similarly be decomposed into discussion of a field of connected sensors, robotics, and so forth. Some savvy manufacturers have taken to cataloguing industry terms to help employee and customer alike navigate this network of terminology.
Jargon does not make anyone’s list of top barriers to digital transformation, nor is detail itself a cure-all, but clarity should be the starting point for addressing the right management problems more efficiently. Consider “chalking the field” in your next digital transformation conversation. Or better yet, simply define your terms.
Trending Topics in the Consulting Industry
Count of topics from select consulting publications, 2016-2018*
*Note: Analysis from Statista conducted on 162 whitepapers and articles from leading consulting firms.
As of: Q4 2018