Assisting and supporting this profound transformation, which affects the entire corporate ecosystem all the way to its user clients, after labs and the incubators, now is the time of the digital factory.
The digital factory, manufacturing digital "assets", is geared to a simple logic, that of consolidating locally the elements supporting the digital transformation. This means bringing together technological and human resources, skills and methods to stimulate innovation and creation, welcoming and experimenting with ideas. According to an ABI Research report, the digital factory market, from publishers to integrators, is set to grow annually by 35%, reaching 111 billion dollars in 2026.
Tools and skills
Transforming digital innovation in a factory might seem paradoxical, but the digital factory is a response to the wealth and complexity of the digital world. It concerns the entire company, including the business units, and pushes automation to accelerate the creation of products and digital services.
Achieving this objective and successfully continuing the various phases – innovation, development, security, testing and industrialisation – requires that the company be capable of bringing together tools, skills and methodologies. The latest technologies, such as Big Data, AI and the IoT, all subject to the transversal nature of cyber security, work alongside the digital workplace for collaboration and DevOps and Agile approaches.
Creating meaning and collaboration
Although the digital factory is born of the concentration of these resources, the company still needs to support it. So, the digital transformation is synonymous with cultural transformation. In addition to being accepted, it must not only be reflected in an acceleration in the development of digital products, but also in agile "disruption". Companies need assistance to give meaning and coherence to this form of "disruption".
Additionally, a digital factory project must be integrated in the company’s strategy. It can also be broken down into more targeted projects in order to make it easier to develop and deploy, and to ensure a greater chance of success, like the data factory for data or the customer factory for the customer experience.
Must the digital factory be ephemeral?
Companies transforming and investing in digital technologies need to maintain cultural coherence. The digital factory provides this coherence while opening the company to start-up models and innovation. But can it be made to last? Today, major groups like Air France, BPCE and PSA sometimes spend massive amounts of money for their digital factory, as did Thalès which announced an investment of some 150 million euros.
Digital technologies are becoming a necessity in companies and in BUs, but the digital factory also belongs to the fourth industrial revolution. It is part of the digital transformation, follows the rhythm of its mutations, and could end with it. Air France’s digital factory, for example, was planned with a lifespan of five years. Still, the concept could last longer, because with the acceleration of the time to market, the multiplication of technologies and talent, and new organisation models, the digital factory could prolong the digital acceleration that it gives to the company.
The subject of the Digital Factory will be addressed during a round table of Ready For IT.