Following a period of what the company sees as the ‘efficiency era’ of manufacturing, Emerson (NYSE: EMR) opened its annual Emerson Global Users Exchange event with a focus on the resources that will enable manufacturers to drive greater business performance in the future: people. Specifically, the ‘digital workforce.’
“The past 30 years have brought us fantastic advances in the manufacturing sector, including greater operating efficiencies enabled by automation,” said Mike Train, executive president, Emerson Automation Solutions. “But the incremental benefits gained are diminishing. The pressure is on industry leaders to take the next step to the game-changing performance made possible by digitally empowering the workforce.”
By analysing the organisational behaviours of Top Quartile industry performers – those in the top 25 percent of performance among their peers – Emerson has identified five essential competencies as critical to realise the value of ‘digital transformation’:
- Automated Workflow: Eliminate repetitive tasks and streamline standard operations to focus personnel on exceptions and other opportunities that require human intervention
- Decision Support: Leverage analytics and embedded expertise to provide actionable insights that reduce complexity and enable higher quality, faster decision-making
- Workforce Upskilling: Identify approaches that empower workers to acquire knowledge or experience faster and more effectively, to support higher-level and collaborative decision-making
- Mobility: Provide secure, on-demand access to information and expertise regardless of location, enabling collaborative workflows
- Change Management: Combine strategies, processes, tools and expertise that, in the right combination, simplify and accelerate the institutionalisation of operational best practices.
While these themes are not necessarily new, Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) innovations are bringing unprecedented opportunities to evolve performance in each area of organisational transformations. To make these opportunities attainable, Emerson will expand its Plantweb™ digital ecosystem with a wide range of new digital technologies and services, including a consulting practice with the expertise, methodologies and personnel to bring predictable success to digital transformation.
“By mastering these competencies, manufacturing organisations can fully leverage the digital technologies of today and those just around the corner,” continued Train. “Emerson uses the organisational insights we gain through customer collaboration to focus our product and service portfolio development in areas that create bottom-line impact.”
In a 2017 study conducted by Industry Week and Emerson, manufacturing leaders from a variety of industries confirmed the Industrial IoT will bring new possibilities fuelled by increased real-time information, a more tightly connected enterprise and improved analytical tools. However, the group consistently pointed to personnel as the most important factor for success. Namely, the need for companies to adopt effective change management methodologies to drive an increased focus on education and upskilling along with improved organisational workflows to effectively leverage their technology investments.
"There is an increasing number of reports suggesting that technology is displacing manufacturing jobs, yet they routinely miss the big picture,” said Train. “History has taught us time and again that, while technology can unsettle the current or traditional nature of work, disruption consistently brings new opportunities and net employment growth, not loss.”
During the 2017 Emerson Global Users Exchange event, held in Minneapolis, Emerson introduced significant enhancements to its Plantweb digital ecosystem portfolio, with new technologies and services targeting workforce productivity and organisational effectiveness. To bring the ideas to life, Emerson will help industry leaders see the near-future of how a digitally enhanced workforce behaves differently through its ‘Digital Workforce Experience’, an immersive experiential environment demonstrating how new and emerging technologies are fundamentally transforming organisations by helping them accelerate, institutionalise, and sustain Top Quartile behaviours.
“Companies and employees who embrace the rapidly transforming digital landscape stand to achieve the greatest success,” said Train. “But everyone has skin in the game. Employers need to provide education and upskilling opportunities, and employees need the confidence and commitment to learn new skills and competencies to manage their careers into the information age.”