“What are Digital (as in Digital PLM), Digitization and Digitalization all about? We have been using calculators, computers, tablets and mobile phones, and PLM software for a long time, so are we not digital already? So what’s new and why is there a buzz now?” These are some of the frequently asked questions.
Let us take a simple example of ‘Maps’ to explain what are Digital, Digitization and Digitalization.
Imagine what people would typically do prior to making a road trip about 10-15 years ago. In the US, people would go to a nearby AAA office, grab maps of the route and destinations they plan to visit, mark places of interests, and color code paths and places.
Digitization is about taking the paper-based map, scanning it to produce an electronic copy so that you can have it on your mobile device and refer to it on the go. While it is sometimes an essential first step in the Digital journey, the journey does not end there, as the electronic copy of a full-sized map on a mobile device is not an intuitive way to view the map and navigate through. It is not dynamic and interactive, and needs a lot of zoom in and out for viewing. A better way would be to take a step back and reimagine the entire use case by applying Digital Thinking.
Digital is all about simplicity, enablement, collaboration, and is experience-driven and outcome-focused. It is more of mindset and behavior than mere technology or process.
Digitalization will apply digital thinking to solve the same use case, starting with experience and outcome as the key focus areas. Simplicity, enablement and collaboration will be the key drivers. Imagine your mobile device enables you to not only specify but also lets you talk to it to say where you want to go. It then shows you personalized routes based on your preferences of fastest vs slowest, toll vs toll-free, and highways vs local roads, and guides you to your destination. It alerts you if you deviate from the route. It also enables you to search points of interests on the way for food, fuel, etc. Digitalization transforms the same use case into a next-gen intuitive solution. A few demonstrations of this approach are apps like Google Maps and Apple Maps, which have transformed the way we plan and make road trips.
To summarize, digitalization is a journey powered by digital thinking and focused on simplicity, experience, enablement, collaboration, and outcome. Digital and digitalization positively transforms many areas by enabling productivity improvements, cost savings and increased profitability.
To remain relevant in the changing market dynamics and technology disruptions, companies need to innovate the way they conceive, design, develop, commercialize and sustain their products. The underlying processes and technologies in the discipline of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) need to constantly evolve to enable innovation.
PLM has come a long way from managing the product design data to facilitating and orchestrating enterprise collaboration in order to bring quality products to market faster. Traditional PLM approach and technologies are not adequate as digital technologies disrupt and change business models. The new trends demand companies to have digitally connected product value chain with new way of working that enables more agility and responsiveness across their product value chains. Digital and digital thinking present new opportunities for companies to transform the way their teams are organized, the way collaboration takes place across their value chain, and the way products are brought to market. These trends and opportunities are shaping up the future of PLM to another level.
Digital PLM model, made possible by digital thinking and digital technologies, is the backbone and catalyst for digitalization of product value chain. It connects people, processes and business systems across product value chain through a seamless digital thread and enables companies innovate faster in the digital era.
Digital is the new growth driver for organizations to remain relevant in the changing business context and the technology disruptions that are unfolding right in front of us. The way companies approached their product value chain is no longer relevant and sustainable in the changing context.
Organizations that are able to embrace digital thinking and Digital PLM model to reimagine their value chain and focus on simplicity, collaboration, and agility are going to not only remain relevant in the changing business context but also stay ahead of the curve compared to their competitors.