The human race has evolved dramatically within the past 300 years, and we are now on the brink of the 4th industrial revolution that will catapult us forward.  

It all started in the late 1700s with the first industrial revolution where water and steam power fueled high growth in it all started in the late 1700s when steam water and steam power fueled high growth in industries like agriculture and textiles. About a hundred years later in the late 1800s, we had the second industrial revolution with the discovery of electricity, leading to mass manufacturing and mass production plants In the 1970s is when the arrival of computers fueled the third industrial revolution and drove the creation of enterprise resource planning systems. Today, we are entering Industry 4.0, and it all comes down to connectivity and emerging technologies.

Connectivity and Big Data 

The Internet of Things and the countless data points coming through our existing systems are all coming together to change how we interact with the world around us. We now have the ability to connect devices and machines to gather data that can be used to improve efficiency and productivity.  

In today's digital landscape, digital transformation is not about the technology itself, but what we can do with it and how people can best leverage the tools and resources at their disposal. It’s about how we can best integrate new technology with existing technology, and fine-tune the capabilities of our systems and the skills and expertise of our teams to get the most juice out of the squeeze. The key is connecting all the different data points from all the different resources and creating a story that will help shape a vision of consumer behavior and industry trends coming down the pipeline.

Let's take a manufacturing company, for example. From the various robots on the shop floor to the sensors on each station to the Manufacturing Execution System that helps management oversee the whole operation, there are countless data points that need to be connected in real-time in order to maximize efficiencies. Beyond that, there needs to be a line of connectivity across the rest of the departments in the company as well, so finance can get a glimpse into the health of operations and understand how it might impact the bottom line.

So, what does this mean for businesses? To put it simply, businesses need to embrace digital transformation in order to remain competitive. Those who don't are at risk of being left behind. To run a business in today's tech-driven world requires a new level of connectivity in order for each one of the existing and future systems to talk to each other. The key difference with Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution, is focusing on the connective tissue of technology and big data. As technology continues to advance, this connectivity and the quality of integration will become essential if businesses want to remain at the forefront of their industry. Industry leaders are those who have been able to see the big picture and adapt their connectivity solutions, and their technology solutions to remain ahead of the curve.

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Emerging Technologies 

The industrial revolution of the 21st century is being shaped by emerging technologies, with automation being key. Businesses are always looking for new ways to automate the non-value-added tasks that many of us see as "busy work". Automation, predictive analytics, and big data are all changing the landscape of how businesses operate and compete in today's world. 

One of the most exciting emerging technologies is artificial intelligence (AI). AI has the ability to transform how we interact with technology and can be used to automate tasks that are currently being done by humans. Yes, this sounds intimidating for many, and the big question that often comes up is whether or not AI has the capacity to take peoples' jobs. The answer? It depends on the job. However, we have to be mindful and aware that the third industrial revolution brought similar fears. When the supercomputer was created, people were worried about their jobs being taken as well. In reality, it created an entirely new sector and profession: Information Technology.  

Yes, there will be some jobs that become automated, and it will more often than not be the analytical and manual processes that will experience that shift the most. Even so, there will always be a need for people to manage these systems. The pivot in work may be from a more trench-work approach to stepping back and doing the job with a more strategic, managerial eye. As times change, our skills will change and the sooner we accept that, the easier the transition will be.  

 

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Robotic process automation is another modern technology that is taking the business work by storm. RPA is software that can be used to automate manual, rules-based tasks. This includes things like data entry, form filling, and other similar processes. RPA is being used by businesses of all sizes across a variety of industries to help improve efficiency and accuracy while also freeing up employees' time to focus on higher-level tasks. 

Other emerging technologies include RPA, virtual reality (VR), and blockchain. It's rare that an organization is going to benefit from adopting all these technologies in today's environment, but it's important to realize that the world is trending in that direction. These technologies are still in their infancy, but they have already begun to transform industries like manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, and logistics. It will only grow.

When you think about it, industry 4.0 is really an extension of the third industrial revolution, but it surely is a complete pivot in a new direction. We are on the cusp of a new era, and the future is looking bright for those who are willing to embrace new and emerging technologies. If you are one who is curious about how you can get ahead of these trends, we welcome you to reach out to us directly. We have been a strategic partner for many organizations going through a digital transformation, and we are always here as an informal sounding board as you optimize and digitize your operations.  

Effectively managing change is hard. It’s harder when the media, movies, and other sources have planted seeds of that change leading to catastrophe. From movies like Terminator and iRobot, we have been predisposed as a society to fear robots and the evolution of technology.  

That very fear is what will hold some people back from evolving with the times, and that hesitation is only going to be self-defeating. The truth is that there is so much opportunity on the horizon when it comes to artificial intelligence. The key, as an employer and a leader in adopting these technologies, is to manage change effectively and work to garner the buy-in of the nay-sayers.  

Will artificial intelligence take away jobs?  

This is the root of many peoples’ hesitations. Let’s unravel this question.  

No matter your industry or organization type, each job has two categories of tasks: value-added and non-value-added. Value-added tasks are money-making activities that drive revenue either directly or indirectly. Nonvalue-added tasks are, at a high level, busy work. It's the mundane tasks that take up time to complete but don't necessarily lead to organizational growth.  

For instance, if you work in customer service, a value-added task would be solving a customer's issue. A non-value-added task would be completing the administrative work associated with logging that customer complaint and following up with them.  

With that said, it’s important to note that all jobs will have some element of both value-added and non-value-added tasks. The goal is always to minimize the amount of time spent on non-value-added tasks so employees can focus on higher-level goals that help the company succeed. This is where artificial intelligence comes in. 

Organizations can use AI technology to automate many of the non-value-added tasks that employees are currently bogged down with. This will free up their time so they can focus on more important tasks that will help the company grow. In order to make this happen, however, organizational change management tactics need to be put in place. Without them, the people in charge of overseeing the new AI functionalities will not be fully bought in, hindering the organizations from truly maximizing their growth potential.  

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Effective Organizational Change Management Tactics for AI Integrations 

By following these tips, businesses can set themselves up for success when it comes to implementing AI technology. Here are some organizational change management tactics to help you manage the digital transformation in your business: 

Train employees on new AI technologies 

Employees should be properly trained on organizational change management tactics in place, they will be able to manage the change and reap the benefits that come with it. 

Communicate the Benefits 

Employees will be more receptive to change if they understand how it will benefit them. When communicating the benefits of artificial intelligence, be clear about what the technology can do and how it will make their jobs easier. 

Manage Expectations 

Managing change is essentially managing expectations. Be upfront about what the technology can and cannot do. Over-promising and under-delivering is a recipe for disaster. 

Get Buy-In from Key Stakeholders 

In order for a change to be successful, you need buy-in from key stakeholders. This means getting everyone on board with the plan and ensuring that they are committed to making the change. 

Create a Plan 

A plan is essential for any organizational change. This plan should include a timeline, milestones, and tasks that need to be completed. Without a plan, it will be difficult to track progress and ensure that the change is successful. 

Be Prepared for Setbacks 

There will inevitably be setbacks when implementing any new technology. The important thing is to not get discouraged and to learn from these setbacks. By being prepared for them, you can minimize the impact they have on the success of the overall change. 

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The organizational change management process is essential for any business looking to implement artificial intelligence technology. Properly communicating the benefits of AI, managing expectations, and getting buy-in from key stakeholders are all critical components of a successful change management strategy. Additionally, creating a detailed plan and being prepared for setbacks will help ensure a smooth transition to using AI in your business. Implementing these organizational change management tactics will help you successfully manage the digital transformation in your business caused by integrating artificial intelligence. 

By following these organizational change management tips, businesses can set themselves up for success when it comes to implementing artificial intelligence technology. With the proper training and communication in place, employees will be able to manage the change and reap the benefits that come with it. By being upfront about what the technology can and cannot do, businesses can avoid over-promising and under-delivering, which is a recipe for disaster. Implementing these organizational change management tactics will help you successfully manage the digital transformation in your business caused by integrating artificial intelligence. 

If you have questions on how to best manage change in your organization, whether it’d be for artificial intelligence or a larger digital transformation, please feel free to reach out to us. Our team of change management experts can help steer you in the right direction.  

We are on the brink of a new technological age. With artificial intelligence (AI) emerging, we can expect great changes in how technology is used and how it affects our lives. If you're in the IT sector, you're likely familiar with the abundant impact this modern technology can have on the productivity of our world today. However, if you're looking in through the window, it's a natural feeling to feel threatened by new technology.  

The same fear-filled eyes were prevalent in the '70s and '80s when computers were created and became mainstream. There was a worry that all it would do is eliminate jobs and be a power play by corporations to make more money. In reality, it created an entirely new sector full of new jobs in IT, digital transformation, and surrounding practices. The truth is, it's always better to embrace change and look for the positive in the new emerging technologies to come.  

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Here are the top three reasons you should be looking forward to artificial intelligence in technology.

AI Can Enable Better Decisions  

Artificial Intelligence has the ability to improve our decision-making process. With its vast data-gathering and analytical abilities, AI can help us make better decisions by providing us with more accurate information. It can help us extract stories from data that would otherwise take a long time or would be easy to overlook.  

For example, imagine you are a doctor trying to diagnose a patient's illness. With AI, you would have access to the medical records of all patients with similar symptoms, which would allow you to more accurately diagnose the illness. Having access to information without having to do a Google search has the power to revolutionize various fields beyond just medicine.  

AI Encourages Strategy Rather than Execution 

You know those mundane tasks that take forever, that in all likelihood you hate doing anyway? AI can help us automate those repetitive tasks. Many of the tasks we perform on a daily basis are repetitive and can be easily automated by AI. For example, if you are a customer service representative, you likely spend a lot of time answering the same questions over and over again. With AI, you could have a chatbot that answers these questions for you so that you can focus on more important tasks such as escalations.  

This also leaves room for employees to be creative and come up with strategies rather than being bogged down by the execution. In today's business world, creativity is key to success. With AI taking care of the mundane tasks, employees will be able to focus on being creative and coming up with new ideas.  

AI Opens Up New Job Opportunities 

While it's true that AI will automate many jobs, it will also create new job opportunities. As we've seen with previous technological advances, there will be a new demand for jobs that are related to AI. For example, we will need people to design and oversee artificial intelligence systems. We will also need people to interpret the data that is collected by AI. So while some jobs may be lost, many new opportunities will be created.  

AI Can Help Us Connect With Others  

AI can help us connect with others in a way that is more personal and intimate. For example, there are now AI-powered chatbots that can hold conversations with people. These chatbots are designed to understand human emotions and respond accordingly. This means that you can have a conversation with a chatbot that feels more like a conversation with a friend than a traditional conversation with a computer.  

In addition, AI can help us connect with others by giving us access to information about them that we would otherwise not have. For example, imagine you are meeting someone for the first time. With AI, you could have access to their social media profile so that you can learn more about them before you even meet them.  

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Beyond Business, Artificial Intelligence Can Help Improve the Quality of Life on a Larger Scale 

It goes beyond the automated workflows and optimized efficiencies. Artificial intelligence has incredible potential to improve the world around us by reducing crime, protecting the environment, and even reducing the time we waste in traffic. Here are a few more examples.  

Protecting the Environment

AI can help us protect the environment in a number of ways. First, AI can help us identify environmental problems before they become too big to handle. For example, AI-powered sensors can detect pollution and accidents before they happen. This information can then be used to prevent these accidents from happening in the first place. For example, if a sensor detects that a chemical plant is leaking, the AI can notify the authorities so that they can take action to prevent an accident.  

Improved Agriculture

In addition, AI can help us conserve resources by optimizing our use of them. For example, imagine you are a farmer trying to conserve water. With AI, you could have access to information about the weather and the soil so that you can optimize your irrigation system. This would allow you to use less water while still producing the same amount of crops.  

A World with Less Crime

AI has been found to be very successful in predictive policing. By analyzing data, artificial intelligence can predict where and when crimes are likely to occur. This information can then be used by police forces to deploy resources more effectively and prevent crime before it happens. 

Reduced Traffic Congestion and Accidents

Traffic is a huge problem in cities all over the world. AI can help by reducing congestion and accidents through a number of methods such as intelligent routing, adaptive traffic control, and automated cars. 

Improved Healthcare

AI is being used in a number of ways to improve healthcare. It can be used for things like diagnosing diseases, developing new drugs, and improving medical images. This means that we can expect better healthcare for everyone in the future. AI could even enable healthcare solutions and even surgical operations in developing countries leveraging robotics and AI together. This is already something Google has been exploring, and will likely be leveraged in the coming decade to improve healthcare options in third-world countries.

These are just a few of the many ways that artificial intelligence will impact our lives in the years to come. There's no need to be afraid of change – embrace it and look forward to a brighter future.  

If you have questions about digital transformation or how your organization could benefit from leveraging AI technology, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We are always happy to be an informal sounding board as you embark on your digital transformation journey. 

Il existe tout un tas de sujets critiques dont les exécutifs doivent se saisir avant de se lancer dans l’aventure de la transformation digitale. Il y a souvent un fossé entre la perception et la réalité. Ce que nous pensons devoir se produire et ce qui a en fait besoin de se produire sont souvent en décalage. A moins que nous n’associions volontairement les deux, le fossé peut perdurer lors du projet de transformation digitale et mener à un échec ERP. Etudions ensemble comment combler ce fossé, et quel concept vous devriez maîtriser tandis que vous élaborez votre stratégie de transformation digitale.

Que vous soyez un exécutif ou un leader projet en transformation digitale, voici les concepts fondamentaux avec lesquels vous devez vous familiariser avant de mener une quelconque transformation digitale.

Ceci n’est pas une mise à niveau technologique.

La réalité est que la technologie que vous sélectionnez possède la plus petite importance significative eu égard au succès de la transformation digitale. Il y a de nombreux éléments des transformations digitales plus importants que la technologie. Par exemple, votre processus opérationnel, votre structure organisationnelle, votre statut futur, et votre stratégie digitale dans son ensemble pèsent bien plus lourd dans la réussite que la technologie en elle-même. Plutôt que de considérer votre projet de transformation digitale comme une mise à niveau technologique, vous devriez l’envisager comme une transformation opérationnelle à grande échelle qui vous permettra de vous rapprocher de votre stratégie organisationnelle.

La politique du changement est plus difficile que vous ne le pensez.

L’une des plus importantes problématiques auxquelles font face les exécutifs est qu’ils sont convaincus que leurs équipes seront en mesure de s’adapter plus facilement au changement qu’ils ne le seront réellement. Il est très rare, voire même inexistant, qu’un exécutif réalise une transformation et en sorte en pensant que la politique du changement a été plus simple à mettre en place que prévu, ou s’est déroulée comme anticipé. La réalité est que le changement sera toujours amplifié et plus difficile qu’on ne saurait le prévoir.

Bien entendu, vous avez peut-être une culture organisationnelle entrepreneuriale et adaptable, ou bien votre équipe comprend que la technologie est dépassée et exprime son enthousiasme vis-à-vis de la transition vers un nouvel ERP ou logiciel CRM ; mais la réalité et bien d’autres choses viendront faire ou défaire un changement organisationnel. L’enthousiasme que vous ressentez sera au plus fort au lancement du projet, mais il s’étiolera forcément lors de la réalisation du projet de transformation digitale. Tout type de changement digital nécessite une stratégie de gestion du changement organisationnel homogène, qui permettra à vos équipes de s’adapter aux nouvelles fonctions organisationnelles.

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Vous êtes le seul à pouvoir garantir le succès de la transformation digitale.

De nombreux exécutifs tendent à gérer leur transformation digitale en la déléguant à une équipe projet, un vendeur de logiciels, un partenaire d’exécution, ou un consultant tiers. Ne vous laissez pas séduire par l’idée que vous pouvez embaucher quelqu’un pour le faire à votre place. Vous devez être investi et mener l’initiative.

C’est l’équipe exécutive qui déterminera à terme le succès du projet. Cela passe par le fait de définir une vision claire et de s’assurer de sa cohésion à travers le management, lorsqu’il s’agit de stratégie organisationnelle et de transformation digitale. Il s’agit de déterminer les indicateurs de performance clefs qui déplaceront le curseur, et à terme de prendre le contrôle du projet de transformation digitale plutôt que de le déléguer à une tierce partie.

Il s’agit au final de votre entreprise, de votre capital et de votre futur en tant qu’entité. Faire confiance à une tierce partie est insensé. L’équipe exécutive doit également être acquise à l’aspect évolution du management relatif aux initiatives de transformation digitale. Vous serez amenés à prendre des décisions difficiles concernant l’état futur de votre activité et à défendre les processus organisationnels qui permettront de passer de l’état actuel à l’état futur.

Ne placez pas la barre de vos objectifs trop bas.

Etant donné le taux de succès désastreux des transformations digitales de la dernière décennie, les exécutifs ont tendance à placer la barre là où ils pourront l’atteindre. Plutôt que d’agir dans la peur de manquer la balle, passez à l’offensive et déterminez ce qui permettra réellement à l’organisation de se propulser vers son état futur et de piloter l’innovation organisationnelle.

Bien entendu, il peut être inconfortable de fixer des objectifs ambitieux, mais c’est important. Il y a de fortes chances que vous manquiez vos objectifs, où que vous fixiez la ligne d’arrivée, alors si vous la positionnez trop proche de votre point de départ, vous n’obtiendrez pas le retour sur investissement attendu. Trouvez le courage d’être le catalyseur pendant que votre organisation fait un bond dans l’ère digitale actuelle.

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Prenez le temps de définir de bonnes initiatives digitales.

De nombreux exécutifs pensent qu’il y a une recette magique pour une bonne initiative digitale. En vérité, il n’y en a pas. Chaque organisation est unique d’un point de vue organisationnel et de bons leaders digitaux reconnaîtront les besoins distincts et stratégiques qui apporteront de la valeur à votre organisation. Prenez le temps en amont de passer au peigne fin vos processus et de construire un plan de mise en œuvre fort pour comprendre exactement ce qui doit se produire pour générer croissance et optimisation.

Plus vous prenez le temps de préparer en amont, meilleur sera le résultat. Des consultants extérieurs ne peuvent pas réaliser des actions telles que des migrations de données, des améliorations de processus et modifier la gestion de manière aussi homogène que vous ne pouvez le faire en interne. Personne ne connaît votre entreprise mieux que vous. Investissez de l’argent et des ressources pour entreprendre des actions telles que nettoyer des données, estimer l’enthousiasme de votre organisation envers le changement, et représenter les processus internes avant que vous ne démarriez votre quête du parfait logiciel.

Investissement dans la gestion du changement.

Plus vous investissez dans des initiatives de gestion du changement, meilleurs seront les résultats. Mettez-vous à la place de vos équipes. Les organisations qui ont le plus de succès sont celles qui investissent dans la gestion du changement. Les entreprises qui font face à l’échec de leur transformation digitale sont celles qui ne plongent pas dans la gestion du changement organisationnel.

La technologie n’est qu’une pièce du puzzle, et sans les individus derrière elle, la machine sera en sommeil. Afin d’atteindre les objectifs organisationnels tels qu’obtenir une meilleure expérience client, augmenter le chiffre d’affaires, ou simplement s’assurer que l’entreprise reste compétitive dans un contexte d’évolution technologique, vous devez commencer par vos équipes.

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Définir de fortes stratégies de transformation digitale.

Si vous envisagez les innovations digitales pour le compte de votre organisation, sentez-vous libre de me contacter directement. Nos consultants indépendants et technologiquement « agnostiques » aident de petites et grandes organisations à travers le monde à adopter des technologies, des solutions cloud ERP à l’intelligence artificielle, en passant par des processus d’automation robotisés. Nous sommes toujours présents en tant que table d’harmonie pour votre transformation digitale organisationnelle. Vous pouvez également vous abonner à notre chaîne YouTube pour suivre nos vidéos quotidiennes sur la stratégie digitale.

As supply chain and manufacturing operations shift, new needs are becoming more and more apparent. Warehouse management systems are recognizing those needs and are either integrating or adding robotics bolt-on solutions to their warehouse management software. Manufacturers and distribution companies alike have the ability to adopt new technologies such as robotics process automation to drive efficiencies in their processes that weren't available within the past decade.

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How can you leverage Robotics Process Automation in your Warehouse Management System?
Warehouse layout optimization:

Warehouse layout optimization involves using algorithms and data analytics to optimize the layout of products within the warehouse. This can help to improve efficiency by reducing travel time and distances between products, and it’s likely more beneficial the larger the warehouse.

Warehouse slotting:

Warehouse slotting is the process of assigning locations for specific items within the warehouse. This helps to ensure that items are easy to find and retrieve when needed.

Warehouse order picking:

Warehouse order picking is the process of selecting products from their assigned locations in the warehouse. This can be done using robotics process automation to improve accuracy and efficiency.

Task assignment and sequencing:

Task assignment and sequencing involve assigning tasks to employees and then sequencing the tasks so that they can be completed in an efficient manner. This can help to improve productivity by ensuring that tasks are completed in a timely fashion.

Stock and retrieval processes:

Stock put away and retrieval processes involve putting products into storage locations and then retrieving them when needed. This can be done using robotics process automation to improve accuracy and efficiency.

Picking, packing, shipping processes:

Picking, packing, and shipping processes involve picking products from their assigned locations, packing them into boxes, and then shipping them out to customers. This can be done using robotics process automation to improve accuracy and efficiency.

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Whether you are simply exploring top warehouse management software, seeking out the above, advanced capabilities, or are working to optimize specific elements of your operations such as inventory tracking or third-party logistics, understanding the different capabilities of warehouse software on the market can deliver you to your best fit WMS software selection.

Now is the time to explore the possibilities. Implementing these emerging technologies can help to improve your bottom line and give you a competitive edge. Even so, there are still great benefits that come with WMS systems without RPA as well. Whichever route you decide to go, there are ample efficiencies that come with integrating supply chain management or warehouse management solutions into your operations. It can help to drive efficiencies and accuracy in your operation while also freeing up employees to focus on more important tasks.

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If you're looking to improve your warehouse management system, integrate robotics process automation, or simply need a sounding board as you determine your best next step, feel free to reach out to us directly. You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up to date on digital trends taking place across industries around the world.

Digital transformations are a complex topic with multiple faucets of intricate practices in order to see success. Flipping an organization from one side of the coin to the other is no small task, and it can often be the most expensive and time-consuming project an organization can take on. For that reason, business leaders must understand the nuances of business transformation and digital transformation, and become familiar with the 3 pillars of digital transformation: people, processes, and technology.

 People

Without an intentional organizational change management strategy, organizations will fail as they help their employees cross the bridge from one operation to the next. Organizational change management is a critical success factor in any digital transformation initiative. Without the right tools and processes in place, an organization will struggle to manage the expectations of all stakeholders, both internally and externally.

It all starts with performing an organizational assessment to understand your company's appetite for said changes. Through this assessment process, you'll want to facilitate a handful of anonymous, third-party surveys to probe the company's cultural nuances. The questions should be formulated to pull insights around employees' respect and trust levels in management, current bottlenecks, preferred communication styles, and overall satisfaction with different elements of their job.

Based on the information garnered from the assessment, your dedicated change management project team should craft a communication and training timeline. This should include what to say to whom and when to say it. As these communications are crafted, keep the message of personal benefit to the employee at the forefront, with all other informational elements of the project as supplemental info. By the time your team reaches training, they should feel fully aware and on board with the new way of doing things. The training will be around new processes and how to operate new technologies, not answering questions about why we are doing it or addressing fears of job automation.

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Processes

Business process mining is another important aspect of successful digital transformations. This technique allows organizations to map out their current business processes, identify gaps and opportunities, and then redesign processes to be more efficient and effective. Business process mining can be performed manually or through the use of software that automates the process.

Once current processes have been mapped out, it's time to start redesigning them. This is where business process management comes into play. Business process management is a methodology used to redesign business processes to be more efficient and effective. The goal of business process management is to improve organizational performance by streamlining future state. When selecting new software, it's important to consider the processes and eliminating bottlenecks.

 Technology

Finally, technology is a key enabler of digital transformations. The right software can help organizations automate manual processes, improve communication and collaboration between employees, and make decisions more quickly. Many people get hung up in the software selection process, but the reality is, if due diligence is done before reaching the technology pillar of a digital transformation, it will be easier to come up with a shortlist of technologies that would fill the need.

When selecting new software, it's important to look at the prioritized processes that will help your organization inch toward your overarching business strategy. The new technologies should also be able to integrate with current systems, whether it's cloud computing software or legacy systems, and have the capacity to scale as the organization grows.

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Technology should be seen as an enabler of the processes and people, not the other way around. By following these three pillars, organizations can set themselves up for success as they embark on their digital transformation journey. If you are exploring digital solutions to help optimize your processes, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our team has helped hundreds of small businesses and high-profile organizations alike in their pursuit toward digitization, and we are always happy to be an informal sounding board to ensure your efforts go smoothly. You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel for weekly videos around all things digital transformation.

Emerging technologies are becoming more and more popular across various industries. It started with cloud computing, and it's quickly evolving into new technological horizons that the world is beginning to benefit from. With all these changes, it's natural to feel a sense of fear as more and more aspects of our work become automated. However, it's important to look at these evolutions in technology as an opportunity rather than a threat. Here are a few ways things like artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, and virtual reality are propelling industries forward.

Artificial Intelligence

Marketing

AI is becoming prominent in marketing. It can help with tasks such as customer segmentation, lead scoring, and even content creation. In fact, about 60% of businesses are already using or plan to use artificial intelligence in their marketing efforts as of last year.

Customer Service

AI in customer service has driven efficiencies for many companies. It can help with tasks such as automating customer support, providing recommendations to customers, and even identifying fraudulent behavior.

Accounting

AI in accounting is already being used by some companies to automate tasks such as Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable. This can help to speed up the process and improve accuracy.

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Robotic Process Automation

Manufacturing

In the past, warehouse management was often a very manual process. However, with the advent of robotics process automation, this is starting to change. Robotics can now be used to manage inventory and track shipments. This has led to increased efficiency and accuracy in warehouses across the globe. Robotic process automation is becoming prominent in manufacturing and warehouse management. It can help with automating tasks such as quality control, material handling, and even production processes.

Healthcare

Robotic process automation is also becoming popular in the healthcare industry. Hospitals are using it to automate tasks such as admitting patients, dispensing medication, and even billing insurance companies. This can lead to increased efficiency and accuracy in the hospital system.

Law Firms

Law firms are beginning to use robotic process automation to automate back-office tasks such as preparing court filings, contract reviews, and data entry. This can help to improve accuracy and efficiency in the legal profession.

Virtual Reality

Training Simulations

Virtual Reality is becoming popular in training simulations. It can create incredibly realistic environments that allow employees to learn new skills without having to put themselves in any real danger. For example, telecommunication companies could use VR to train their techs to work on towers. Rather than training on the actual tower stilted 300 ft in the air, they can practice in a realistic manner without putting themselves at risk.

Operations

Virtual Reality is also being used in operations to help with tasks such as monitoring processes, detecting issues, and even training employees. An example of virtual reality in the workplace would be using it to show an employee the inside of a nuclear reactor. This would allow them to see and learn about the inner workings of the reactor without having to be in close proximity to any radiation.

Of course, not all of us work at nuclear power plants, but this example illustrates the doors that will open as we begin using these technologies. Leveraging things like virtual reality in the workplace can enable employees to go places it wouldn't be safe going in real world, even though it would dramatically improve the level of understanding for the person responsible for seeing those dangerous things through. VR can help us get a different lens into things we may not have been able to see and do things we may not have been otherwise

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The world of technology is constantly evolving, and it's important to stay ahead of the curve if you want your business to thrive. By embracing new technologies like artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, and virtual reality, you can open up new opportunities for your company that you never thought possible. Don't be afraid to experiment and see what these technologies can do for your industry. You may be surprised at just how far they can take you.

Emerging technologies are changing the way we do business, and it's important to embrace these changes. They can help us become more efficient and productive, making us better equipped to face the challenges of the future. Embrace the future, and understand that although roles and responsibilities will change, these technologies will only make our lives easier by eliminating busy work and risk, and increasing efficiencies in production. And remember, if you're ever feeling overwhelmed by all these changes, there's no shame in seeking out help from a professional. Feel free to reach out to us directly with questions on which emerging technologies will help your organization launch forward as we welcome a new digital era.

More time should be spent upfront planning how exactly you will go about digital transformations. Your digital transformation strategy should be the foundational blueprint, and each component of the business should be thought through before jumping into a software implementation.

A clear and cohesive digital transformation strategy will be a derivative of your overarching business strategy. When looking at your company goals and objectives, you see what it is your company wants to do. When looking at your digital strategy, you see how your company will do those things. For example, say your goal is to increase customer experience.

Your business strategy will answer these questions:

Your digital transformation strategy will answer these questions:

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Answering these questions and building a cohesive digital strategy before investing in digital transformation projects will set a company up for success. Without a digital transformation strategy, we will get to the other side of the project and realize that we are no better off than we were before. Whether we classify as a Fortune 500 entity or a small business, the level at which we are prepared to embark on a digital transformation journey is the level at which we will succeed. More time should be spent in strategizing our roadmap than anywhere else in a given implementation project. If you figure out your digital transformation strategy prior to launch, you'll be sure to realize the following benefits.

Executive Alignment on Digital Initiatives

Formulating and mapping out a digital strategy ensures that various stakeholders are all on the same page and working towards the same goals. A lack of executive alignment has enough weight to crush the trajectory of a project, and it will show when it comes time to make decisions in the middle of the digital transformation process.

Building on our earlier example, say an overarching business strategy is to build customer engagement in an effort to drive revenue growth and, in turn, business value. A Chief Financial Officer may want to do this in the most cost-effective way, whereas the Chief Digital Officer knows that specific attributes of a more expensive software will move the needle more than its counterpart. In this scenario, there will be a clash of opinions on how to move forward.

A digital transformation strategy will enable the team to move as one unit, aligned in the decisions they make throughout the digital transformation process.

Project Governance

Governance is also essential for a successful digital transformation. This includes establishing clear roles and responsibilities as well as decision-making processes. When we map out our strategy in a holistic and cohesive manner before we move a finger on implementation, we essentially create a map that will guide us through decision-making from the beginning to the end of the transformation.

From your business plan to your organizational change management strategy, the different components of a winning digital strategy will keep a project on par with the greater purpose of the project. You will have specifically outlined key performance indicators that map out expectations across different buckets of the project, and you will allow project management teams to move freely within the guardrails as they make decisions in the day-to-day of the project, further enabling innovation.

The reality is that it's easy to become sidetracked and tack on technologies that would be nice to have, but don't necessarily align with the initial objectives we set out to achieve at the beginning of the transformation project.

Stronger ROI on New Technologies

Implementing new technologies is in business is no small investment. A digital transformation is often the largest investment a company can make as they grow, and it comes with a lot of pressure to perform. With an all-encompassing strategy, digital transformation leaders can rest assured that they will see a higher ROI than they would without proper planning upfront.

Driving a strong return on investment comes down to two things: staying on budget and within the estimated timelines. The two are linked, when projects go over timelines, they will also likely go over budget. If projects go over budget, you are probably adding things beyond the initial plan which will result in going over timelines. A strong digital transformation strategy will keep you from deviating from the original plan, and, in turn, seeing a higher ROI than you would otherwise.

Broaden Horizons in Modern Technologies

There are emerging technologies out there, from artificial intelligence to robotic process automation, that can be catalysts to business growth.

A digital transformation strategy will enable you to understand your need so that when you are considering modern technologies, legacy systems, and cloud computing solutions, you know which one will be the best fit for your company.

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If you are looking for help putting a winning plan in place as you embark on a digital transformation journey, please reach out to us. Our team of experts can help get you started on the right path. Additionally, our blogs, YouTube channel, and Podcast are all packed with resources that can help guide you along the way. Subscribe now to stay updated on new resources as they are published.

When it comes to your digital transformation, change management is key. Unfortunately, many executives don't put enough emphasis on this phase of the transformation and end up running into ERP failure. In order to create a robust change management strategy, you need to focus on two main practices: communication and training. Communication is essential for getting your message out there, while training will help employees understand the changes that are taking place. By following these tips, you'll be able to successfully manage changes in

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Communication

To build a strong change management strategy, you must have a strong communication plan. Your plan needs to take into account the different ways people communicate, put your communication on the platform that speaks to them. Some people may prefer email, while others might not even check their email regularly. It's important to communicate through a variety of channels to get your message across. Don't expect employees to get on board with how you do things, find out how they prefer to communicate and meet them there.

For example, consider communicating the same message across all of the following channels of communication:

Every communication should hit at least five of these communication channels.

In addition, timing plays a big role as well. Your communication timelines should map out when to say what to the greater team, and your entire internal content strategy around the change should be formulated with one message in mind: What's in it for me.

Every message that goes out to the greater team should talk less about how the organization will benefit, and more about how each department, team, and employee will benefit. Keep in mind this message will differ based on who you are speaking to. The people whose jobs will become partly or fully automated will have their jobs automated will be motivated by different things, and they will need different communication.

The same is true for people in sales vs. people in accounting. People in sales likely will be motivated more by the opportunity to make more money through increased efficiencies, whereas the people in accounting will find value in less busy work and the ability to have a more strategic eye. Each team is different, and it all comes down to your company culture. Lean on your lower and mid-level management team to craft the right message for each group.

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Training

Training is also essential for change management success. By the time your employees show up to a training for a new system or process, they should already be at the point of accepting the change. Your trainings are not meant to tell people how things are changing, they are meant to teach people how to utilize the new tools in place. This segment of your change management strategy should piggyback off proper communications to ensure there is no shock during the training, and that people fully understand the scope of changes coming down the pipeline before they train on those changes.

By providing training seminars, videos, calls, and roundtables, you'll be able to ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows what to expect during the digital transformation. These training sessions will help employees understand the changes that are taking place and how they can best utilize the new tools in place. Just like your communications were delivered in different formats, training need to be delivered in different formats as well.

By following these tips, you'll be able to successfully manage changes in your organization and achieve your company goals with ease. Implementing a robust change management strategy is essential for any digital transformation, so don't forget to focus on communication and training in addition to the other facets of change management that truly move the needle.

If you have questions about change management and how you can best guide your organization to a new way of work, then don't hesitate to reach out to us. We also have a ton of resources available on YouTube and on all of your favorite podcasting platforms.

If you’re about to begin the software selection process and feel like you don’t know where to begin or are stuck between which solution is right for your company, then it’ll be helpful to look at the process as you’d look at a March Madness bracket.

A digital transformation starts with the software selection process, but a lot of companies burn out at this stage. There are multiple full-scope ERP systems and countless focused best-of-breed solutions out there and having so many options to choose from can make the selection process a bit daunting. After all, a digital transformation project is a complex and expensive endeavor, and the last thing you want to do is pick the wrong software that doesn’t drive efficiencies as you need it to.

The same is true when it comes to your March Madness bracket. The stakes may not be as high, but if you pick the wrong team going to the end, then you will lose out on the bet and might have to bring in donuts for the whole office. Whether you are dialing in on which of the hundreds of systems are best or which of the 68 teams will take the championship title, the same best practices ring true.

1. Trust your knowledge

It will be easier for someone who has been engrained in the industry and the greater company to narrow in on a shortlist of software solutions. In that same breath, your first step to building a winning bracket is to watch college basketball, get acquainted with the teams and their individual strengths, and learn who stands out amongst the crowd. Otherwise, you’re simply banking on luck to get you through in both cases.

When evaluating software, it is important to lean on your knowledge of your industry and company complexities. Consider the specific needs of your business and how they differ from other businesses in your same industry. Understand what your differentiating factors are as an organization and try to find software that will accentuate your competitive advantage. This will help you hone in on the systems that are the best fit.

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2. Understand the Future State

The future state of your business, at its core, is comprised of your target company culture and your target operating model. What does your company hope to achieve in the next five years? How will the software you select help you get there?

The software you select should drive efficiencies and remove or smooth the edges of the barriers that are holding your organization back. These barriers could be things like having too many manual processes, a lack of organization in process workflows, or bottlenecks.

Every team has a target operating model they are trying to hit. It’s more than just getting the ball in the basket, the target for each team in the competition is to become a high-performing team. Which teams do you think have hit their future state? Which teams have great communication, high caliber talent, strong work ethic, and unmatched synergy? Those characteristics mixed with a bit of luck will take a team to the championship.

3. Focus on Improvements

Focus on business process improvements. What processes do you want to optimize? How will a given software help you achieve these goals? Businesses often select software based on what they think they need today, but it’s important to also consider future needs when making a decision. Prioritize the processes that will move the needle toward your future state, and only consider software solutions that can drive efficiencies within those processes.

Yes, Duke and Gonzaga have always been top runners, but just because they have taken the cake in years past doesn’t mean they’ll do it again. Just because you’ve heard SAP or Microsoft Dynamics have been great solutions over the years doesn’t mean they will do great for your company and its specific needs in today’s consumer production climate. There are so many other solutions that have changed and improved their products over the years, and they are now competing with the big players.

As a technology-agnostic consulting firm, we evaluate and prioritize our clients’ processes and find the best software solution that helps them reach their strategic goals. If you and your team need a sounding board to explore which software solutions are the best fit for your company, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly. You can also follow us on YouTube for helpful videos around all things digital and business strategy to help keep your company on track to winning in today's technological climate.

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As we round out the year and make way for 2021, it’s a great time to reflect on the year we have had. Our wins, our losses, and the areas for improvement. Many organizations faced challenges in 2020 that uncovered unknown or unexpected weaknesses leading to problems during the pandemic that could have been easily avoided with the right software. So as you reflect, take a look at what those areas may have been for your company and team. When justifying a substantial investment in your company’s operations, it’s important to consider the trends that are moving your industry and company.

There’s a broad range in today’s market - some businesses are experiencing some of the more turbulent times of their day, and others are seeing rapid growth. Regardless of where your company falls on the spectrum, 2020 has proven the following two trends are kickers that you should keep top of mind as you build out your digital strategy for 2021.

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Flexibility

As one of the top digital transformation trends our team identified going into 2021, flexibility is key to surviving and thriving as we welcome the New Year. If there is anything we learned from 2020, it’s that the future can be impossible to accurately predict. When COVID-19 hit the United States, many sectors and operational elements of different businesses were impacted. For example, supply chains required massive overhauls, entire workforces migrated to a remote model, retail moved nearly fully online, and many employees were furloughed or terminated – all of which happened within a matter of weeks.

The inflexible and siloed systems of the past won’t cut it in 2021 and beyond for companies that want to continue to excel. Pursuing an ERP implementation as you welcome new beginnings in the new year will improve organizational competencies that provide flexibility to adapt your business model as it evolves with these uncertain times.

Remote Workforces

Each city, state, and country has different guidelines and regulations in place to help round the corner of the pandemic. However, the message has been relatively the same across the world - stay home. Staying home predominantly means working from home as well, job permitting. With this in mind, the ability to log into on-premise company systems is unattainable for those who are working outside of the office regularly due to the push toward working remotely.

Today, nearly every software vendor has evolved its products to provide a cloud-based operating system. Cloud ERP systems provide the flexibility for employees to access company data swiftly and with ease, simply by logging in. Although there are a handful of pitfalls associated with implementing a Cloud ERP vs. an on-premise ERP, the flexibility, scalability, and ease of use are benefits that many companies recognize, especially as we continue to push ourselves out of these unprecedented times.

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Supply Chain Adjustments

Consumer behavior shifted dramatically when the pandemic hit in 2020, shifting buyers’ focus toward products that were stocked on the shelves at a regular rate. Things like toilet paper and cleaning products began to disappear from convenience stores, and meat distributors and food companies had to ramp up production drastically in a short period of time, putting a lot of strain on their supply chains. Although we hope it will be at a different rate, these effects will trickle into 2021. It will be the companies with a sound manufacturing ERP system that persevere through this extra strain on their operations.

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Beyond simply following the trends, there are countless benefits that come with implementing and new ERP, CRM, or HCM software into your operations. From increased operational efficiencies, cost savings, and improved competitive advantage, the benefits of a digital transformation will almost always be shown in the ROI of the initial investment in the software. This is especially true if you bring in the right team to help you implement the software and guide you in organizational change management with the digital transformation.

Now is the time to analyze or reanalyze operational needs as we head into 2021. Life will be forever in flux, and some years will see new, unprecedented changes just like we saw in 2020. It’s our job as business leaders and suppliers to be prepared for these tide shifts and stay nimble in our operations.

If you have questions about whether now is the right time to pursue a digital transformation, please feel free to contact us. I am happy to be an informal sounding board. Otherwise, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year to you and yours!

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You’ve chosen your software, you’ve strategized the rollout, you have integrated all functionalities - it’s time. As you evaluate your progress on the eve of go-live, it’s important to consider the last few steps to make sure your team is set up for success.

Believe it or not, a majority of ERP failures are due to go-live readiness, or lack thereof. Regardless of the specific software, your team has chosen to implement, here are the main areas to button up as you approach the big day.

Test, Test, Test

Testing is the single, most important element of preparing for go-live. There are three pillars to testing that you should always include in your preparations.

  1. Test both functional and nonfunctional scenario requirements
  1. 3x3 Rule
  1. Create test environments that mirror the actual scenarios the system will be utilized for By emulating software functions from an end-user perspective, you will be able to utilize real-life situational scenarios that the new system will have to accommodate. This is referred to as behavioral or black-box testing, and it touches on the user acceptance and functional aspects of the software. This will surface different types of issues – unlike white box testing that focuses on code structure, internal design, etc.

Make sure you have a strong data plan

It’s very common for companies to have issues with data at go-live. Data migration is a multi-pronged task that needs attentiveness from every angle to make sure the transfer of data between systems is seamless. Now, the transfer of data may sound simple on the surface, but understand that it includes, but is not limited to, all of the following elements:

It’s important that these elements are thoughtfully considered and addressed. In our experience, many companies brush over these pieces. They deprioritize the deeper, subsurface elements of data migration when it’s often one of the biggest obstacles of an ERP Implementation.

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Prepare for anything

Anyone who has lived long enough knows that life just doesn’t go accordingly to plan sometimes. This is applicable to your software implementation as well. You can do your due diligence, cover all your bases, and still run into a hiccup at the time of rollout. That’s why it’s important to have a contingency plan in place, acting as your safety net at go-live.

Keep an ongoing plan of how to support the software beyond just going live. You’ll need to know who you should contact in case you need help, how you will contact them, and at what point you pull the plug and bring in a third party for help. Simply being prepared will not only bring ease of mind to the rollout, but it will help mitigate the ‘deer in headlights’ factor if something were to go wrong.

Third Stage Consulting is always here to answer your ERP planning questions and needs. Contact us if you would like a sounding board for the next steps in your project.

Third Stage Consulting

Third Stage Consulting Group is a global thought leader in business transformation, ERP software systems, operational change management, and business advisory. Let us take your organization’s digital transformation to the Third Stage.
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