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3 Common Digital Transformation Pitfalls Manufacturers Should Avoid

Undergoing a full digital transformation is not an easy task (or a short one), which means you need a plan to execute it in a way that doesn't disrupt your day-to-day business.

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Over the past few years, digital transformation in manufacturing has exploded, and companies that have yet to implement a digital overhaul might be feeling pressure from competitors or customers to get on board.

Ultimately, after the transformation is complete, you will make the lives of your customers (and yourselves) much easier with options like self-service purchasing, automated emails for reorders, and simpler upselling to current customers on additional products or parts they might not have considered. 

This said, undergoing a full digital transformation is not an easy task, nor is it a short one, which means that you need a strategic plan to execute it in a smart way that does not disrupt your day-to-day business. 

Here are three common pitfalls that manufacturing companies should avoid: 

1. Building from Scratch

Digital transformation can seem very daunting, mainly due to a common misperception that in order to undergo the overhaul, you need to wipe out your existing website. And who wouldn’t find that overwhelming, and costly? The reality is, very rarely do you need to start from scratch.

We have worked with manufacturing companies of all sizes and with websites in many different conditions. It all comes down to having the right partner on board who knows how to isolate existing architecture and take different approaches to avoid starting over.

In addition, working with a consultant or digital agency within your industry will make a world of difference because it will ensure they are familiar with critical features your customers need and use and have the battle scars from other organizations’ efforts! 

2. Multi-Department Management

You’ve made the decision to undergo a digital transformation and as a next step, assign the project to your IT, sales and marketing departments in hopes of gaining feedback and an overall consensus for desired digital outcomes. While this sounds like a good idea in theory, in reality, what ends up happening is the transformation project jumps around between your internal departments, with different views based on budget, areas of expertise, and end goals. Not able to come to a consensus, things come to a standstill.

In order to avoid this, the best thing to do is to assign the project to one point-person to keep the project moving forward, and make sure they have the support to carve out the time to be that person. This will also come in handy for “tie-breaker moments” since there is a leader in place to make a decision. 

3. Do Nothing

It is not uncommon, especially when it comes to the manufacturing industry, for there to be some hesitancy or fear of change. With digital transformation, there isn’t an immediate ROI, which can cause even more hesitation. Change brings about uncertainty and the unknown, but at the same time, not doing anything for fear of change could end up costing you much more – your business.

Joe Gondek, Senior Director of Strategy, Shift7Joe Gondek, Senior Director of Strategy, Shift7Digital transformation in the manufacturing industry has exploded, and this trend will only continue to grow. A good way to get buy-in and calm fears is to continue to communicate and keep everyone in the loop, set KPIs and track them as you go through the digital transformation process. For example, if your end goal is to make products available through your website, clean up existing SKUs, and determine which ones will be available online. That, in itself, is your first KPI. 

While there are many things that need to be taken into consideration with digital transformation, if you can keep these common mistakes in mind, your company will be on track to reap the benefits, as will your customers, ultimately leading to long-term success and an ROI that is beyond everyone’s expectations.

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