Tuesday 13 December 2016

Plastics Industry: Level up your Digital Game! – 5 Ideas to get your Digital Plastics Revolution started (Digital Plastics Revolution Series – Impactor 1)

Digital welcome message at the Lisbon airport.

Welcome to my blog series entitled Digital Plastics Revolution!
In our daily lives we have noticed that digitalization and especially Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) initiatives are moving at a faster speed compared to some years ago. At this speed more and more disruptions occur in all type of industries. Digitalization is literally transforming one industry after the other. This includes also the plastics industry.
In this series I will explore and present the key elements of digital transformation and how these can be used in the plastics industry. Each part of this series presents a major key stone and is called therefore impactor.

So, let’s get started with impactor 1:

Following are my 5 ideas on how you can get the digital revolution started in your plastics business:

1) Digital Technology Platforms (DTP’s): Nowadays, new Digital Technology Platforms (DTP’s) constantly evolve. These are the major building blocks to get your digital business alive. Gartner suggests that companies should have a mix of 5 DTP’s [1]. These should be related to information systems, customer experience, analytics and intelligence, the Internet of Things and business ecosystems. In addition, DTP’s allow your business partners to connect with you from any location and device. Therefore, simply put: get familiar with DTP’s and learn how they can be used in your business.

2) Start creating digital ecosystems: We have to be fit to move in more and more complex networks and interconnected systems. Keeping the current hierarchical structured type of businesses will not help you dealing with this kind of complexity, however, moving toward an ecosystem approach will. Ecosystems are opened up systems and allow much more cross-functional activities [2]. Our whole business leadership structure should change. Digital Leadership should be based on an above-hierarchy, team concept which allows faster innovation.  Bigger companies often re-structure and re-organize to become “leaner”, but to the majority, the old hierarchal systems are kept. This is often influenced by political interest of protecting individual (high) positions within the business.  Fact is that the corporate culture and mindset needs to change! 

3) Awareness of the New Economy and its principles (winner-takes-it-all; zero-to-one with 10x improvements [3]): Although the internet is already 20 years old, the New Economy is still evolving and new possibilities as well as challenges come along with it. In my opinion, awareness of its main working principles is necessary for reforming and growing your business.  In a nutshell “the winner-takes-it-all” meaning that the best and most used platform gets the monopoly of the market. This principle was also coined by Peter Thiel with the expression zero-to-one [3].  Therefore, improvements in proprietary technology should be in a scale of 10x so that new businesses may succeed. In addition, based on a quote of Gary Vaynerchuck [4], you need to start asking yourself every day in the morning: “How can I put myself out of business?” In this way you challenge yourself to stay on top of your business. This is especially true when your business is doing great, because  then you tend to oversee the fact that somewhere a little start-up is already working on your downfall.

4) Clear vison and self-awareness: Your plastics business needs to agree on a vision which includes the digital transformation. This comes along with transforming the whole company culture including the employees’ mindsets. Everyone needs to lean in on their personal side to avoid digital illiteracy. Your company and you need to live, communicate and use methods from the year you’re actually living in (e.g. learning how to use tools like Google trends to see when a trend starts to manifest).  
5) Establish the role of a Chief Digital Officer (CDO): We need CDOs in C-suites to push the digitalization in plastics industry forward! This is also a clear sign to address the importance of the ongoing changes. The Strategy& Chief Digital Officer study [5] showed that only 6% of global companies (1,500 largest companies) have established the position of a CDO. However, this number is rapidly increasing. The consumer-focused industries have here the lead together with large companies. Bottom line: suggest your CEO to hire a CDO or find motivated people in your organization who can take up on such a position. This will help speeding up things!

In impactor 2 of this Digital Plastics Revolution Series I will present to you 2 major strategies to enhance digital transformation in plastics industry!
Thanks for reading!
Till next time and #findoutaboutplastics

[1] Kasey Panetta: Gartner’s Top 10 Technology Trends, http://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/gartners-top-10-technology-trends-2017/
[2] Pearl Zhu: Digital Master: Debunk the Myths of Enterprise Digital Maturity (2015)
[3] Peter Thiel: Zero to One, Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, Crown Business; 1 edition (September 16, 2014)
[5]      Strategy&: The 2015 chief digital officer study, http://www.strategyand.pwc.com/reports/chief-digital-officer-study

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