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Digital Transformation: Perception vs. Reality

Updated: Nov 17

A recent survey of SME manufacturers by Aptean software points to several interesting insights about the state of Digital Transformation in US manufacturing.

1. Companies believe their maturity is more developed than their actual operational investments indicate.

2. Companies say digital transformation is a top priority, but their investments say otherwise. 70% say they are on the path, but the previous statistic would indicate that is likely overstated.

3. 60-70% Companies under $100 million don’t use IT to manage core manufacturing business processes. 77% of manufacturers are manually collecting data, data is highly siloed. 50% say data is not kept up to date.

4. YET 90% claim data enables them to make sound decisions.


THERE IS A DISCONNECT between perception and reality.


What is going on? When the rate of change within a company is less than the rate of change in a company’s environment (customer, competitors, suppliers) … that company is on a path to being uncompetitive and going extinct. Let me put that in perspective. The Apple iPhone was originally introduced in June 2007, coming up on 15 years. Reflect on how you daily life has been fundamentally altered. Email, texting, social media … all day everywhere. eCommerce. Access to information. These are changes that we directly experience. You would be considered a luddite if you were not part of this connected world.


In reference to #digitaltransformation , most applications have been within the walls of the company. Most surveys are inside the walls. We don’t ask about what your competitors, suppliers and customers are doing. What is the impact to your company going to be? We can’t directly see the advances in technology, in process, in skilling which lead one company to rise up and become a superior competitor while another company becomes a laggard. We don’t directly experience the changes in the external landscape until we lose business or profits. Vast demographics of US industry have become complacent. Internal change has not matched the external world.


After 25 years of U.S. industry decline, decline is all most people know and at a visceral level it is embedded in our collective mindset.


I founded the non-profit Industry Reimagined 2030 to revitalize the national narrative. Two essential steps:

1. Openly, honestly explore and discuss where internal change hasn’t kept up with the world at-large. You can’t build a competitive future on top of a pretense. Uncomfortable … yes. Essential … yes.

2. Have conversations in which we step outside the world of today’s concerns and step into a future and imagine our company as a fierce competitor. The people skills, improvement and innovation processes and technology exist, ready to be deploy.

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