Did it take a pandemic to wake us up about digitization? It seems that is what many people are echoing in all this new normal the world is all talking about. We have entered a less stable and less predictable era, and the COVID-19 pandemic is just the latest of disruptions in the past decade. Has digital become the new hero in today’s work-from-home era? In fact, research from McKinsey & Co., reveals that investing in talent increases the odds of digitization success by 2.5 times.
Earlier this month, Jim Heppelmann, president and CEO, PTC, in his virtual LiveWorx keynote, makes a few key points about why work-from-home hasn’t been consistent across all workers, but points out there are four key thriving skills of companies today—and product development will mirror these areas going forward.
In the keynote, he touted working from home and how “digital has become the new hero,” but also said it was not consistent across all workers. He said desk workers had a seamless transition to remote work, but engineers who have software and data parked on a big workstation in the office aren’t so happy. An OECD study showed traffic through internet exchange points has increased by 60%.
Still, the vast majority, about 75% of the global workforce, consists of frontline workers in manufacturing, installation, field service, and more, whose jobs must be done in the real world because it involves physical work. “The disruption has been much more challenging. Digital hasn’t really been a hero,” he says. “For most, it never even showed up.”
To address this further, he went on to detail the four key thriving skills of companies who have found ways to embrace agility, flexibility, and mobility in reaction to the new normal. These skills include:
- Workforce mobility and resiliency: This will be key for working from home, and PTC has made steps to enable it through acquisitions and product development. IDC predicts that by 2022, 70% of manufacturers will use cloud-based innovation platforms. The tipping point for product development has arrived, he explains, and PTC has taken a leadership position in driving this change.
- Flexible and innovative supply chains: This refers to the ability for impromptu partners to blend ideas as they design and manufacture new products. Upgrades have to be coordinated simultaneously up and down the entire supply chain to keep everyone interoperable. Also, Heppelmann asks: What if you could gather each party and their data together from around the world in the cloud with everybody collaborating early and often in the design process? He shares an example of how this is possible.
- Frontline workforce connectivity and collaboration: He says companies need to bring digital to the 75% of workers—or 2.7 billion of them globally—who are part of the frontline workforce. He says what we need for frontline workers is a way to bring digital data into the real world, where they work. That is the very definition of AR (augmented reality), he goes on to explain, which will bring massive productivity advantages.
- Remote monitoring of products and factories: IoT (Internet of Things)-enabled remote monitoring and remote service improves uptime in critical environments, he says, as it saves massive technician labor and travel costs and it provides new ways to transform the relationship with customers.
Further, he announced shipping two big software releases during the pandemic and how PTC has continued most aspects of its global business from home without interruption. For example, the recent release of Creo 7.0 was completed from home in the midst of this disruption. The 3D design and engineering system has generative design, multibody design, realtime simulation, additive manufacturing, CAM (computer-aided manufacturing), and hundreds of other enhancements.
The big takeaway here: While the coronavirus crisis is a terrible health and economic problem, it is accelerating the movement toward digital technologies like the IoT, AR, SaaS (software-as-a-service), and more—the type of technologies that Heppelmann and PTC have been prioritizing.
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