Digital innovation and technology are moving at an exponential rate in terms of acceptance and adoption. And it is clearly moving at an exponential rate when it comes to the creation of new technologies. What’s interesting to see is the diminishing lag time between the creation of new technologies and organizations’ acceptance-adoption of the technologies. Much of the recent diminishing lag time is due in part to the Covid crisis which accelerated and required us to adopt much faster than our original timelines. Regardless of the “why” behind the adoption and acceptance, it has created an extraordinarily exciting time in manufacturing! As Will Rogers famously said, “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

I am the first person to embrace all the technologies impacting manufacturing and supply chain: automation, connected factories and supply chains, AI, IIoT, Digital Twins, Additive, AR/VR, etc. In my prior role, I was part of the team building the foundation blocks of Industry 4.0 adoption across our Global Supply Chains. We created Light House factories to be the beacons for all other sites to follow. And we established the critical public-private partnerships needed to address the important reskilling and upskilling requirements. It was, and continues to be, very exciting to watch the evolution!

With this rapid advancement and change in the way we work, it’s easy to see how important it is to focus your organization’s efforts at the intersection of people and technology. I would, however, offer one important thought as we navigate through this intersection. Don’t forget about the things that have navigated organizations successfully through the previous Industrial Revolutions. The things that AI cannot solve or the things that cannot be digitized. These things are: Empathy, Honesty, Compassion, Purpose. I know this list is not all inclusive and no doubt there are plenty more values that could be added.

The bottom line is this. Let’s embrace the new technologies of advanced manufacturing and tighten the seatbelts for this incredible ride! But don’t forget to make sure your foundation of values is strong before you take off. Enjoy the ride!!


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