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With discussions around digitalisation and technology at the Digital Manufacturing Week conference, the biggest challenge in the future will be creating a culture where employees feel empowered to drive transformation. 

By Claire Lauder
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For all of the people who have not made it to Digital Manufacturing Week. What a great first day, so much going on here in Liverpool.

We got to hear about the first #MadeSmarter pilot, “a pilot for adoption of digital technology by manufacturers in the North West.” An initiative driven by a team of 9 men and 8 women being led by Professor Jurgen Maier. This is the follow on from the Made Smarter Review back in 2017, I shared it last November and I shall share it again because you should read this if you lead a business or a team which is even remotely linked to UK manufacturing and engineering. 

The opportunities for UK Plc are huge as are the risks of sitting back to “wait and see”. The consequences of not adapting your business mean that you may not have a business in the very near future. The conference was full of people who clearly recognise the size of the challenge and it was mentioned multiple times by multiple people that the businesses that we should be most worried about are the ones who are not attending events like these, events that connect businesses and leaders to share stories on what works, what doesn’t, why it is okay too fail and in fact it is imperative to fail fast and learn quickly. Creating a culture that encourages that is a step away from the norm for many businesses. 

Whilst this conference has been part of “Digital Manufacturing Week” with discussions around digitalisation, technology, connected factories, and potential operational and supply chain improvements, the biggest challenge is creating a culture where employees feel empowered to drive transformation. 

Everyone highlighted the importance of people, successful transformation and improvement only comes if you share your vision with your team, understand your common purpose and work together in creating value for your customers. 

My favourite quote of the day came from Asif Mogul, one of his customers said to him “The lightbulb did not come from continuous improvement of the candle”. Innovation is at the heart of this 4th Industrial Revolution.

Another speaker said that digitisation has nothing to do with technology, start with identifying where the greatest opportunity is to create value and work back from there. Innovation and creating value for your customers will happen through your people. As leaders you need to give them the freedom to explore, the freedom to fail, allow them to try again, encourage them to go and look at what other businesses are doing and most importantly accept that you will not have all of the answers or defined benefits when you start your digital journey, the benefits are there but you may have to take a leap of faith in order to achieve them and they may be quite different to what you expected them to be. 

There is so much support for #ukmfg right now, the sector finally has the spotlight it deserves, it is now down to all of us to create momentum around this “once in a generation opportunity”. It may be difficult to know what you should be doing but if there is one thing that is absolutely certain, if we don't do anything then the future is bleak.

Everyone connected to the sector should ask themselves "what is my part to play in all of this?" I know my part, my passion is people, I love matching passionate ambitious people with passionate ambitious businesses across the manufacturing sectors. I love helping businesses solve challenges by finding them great people.

What is your part in all of this?


This blog post was also published on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-does-digitalisation-mean-you-claire-lauder/

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