Digital Transformation and Value Creation

Rockwell Automation recently hosted an evening focused on The Future of Manufacturing for a joint gathering of the Lubar School of Business Alumni Chapter and the College of Engineering & Applied Science Alumni Chapter, including a presentation and panel on digital transformation, augmented reality demonstrations, and a tour of the company’s iconic clock tower.

Bob Murphy, Senior Vice President of Connected Enterprise Consulting at Rockwell Automation, told the audience that digital transformation is not just about technology.  “Technology is shiny and exciting, but it is just a means to an end,” he shared. “The end is transforming outcomes by using those technologies for competitive advantage. It requires a convergence of technology with operations – products, processes, and people – to be effective and drive value.”

While many companies are daunted by digital transformation, Murphy suggests that starting with a pilot program can help make people throughout the organization aware of the “what, how, and why” of smart manufacturing. A pilot can also gain the necessary leadership support to fully commit to the journey. After the pilot, Murphy says, rapid scale up is critical. “That’s where the value truly gets created.”

The panel discussion was led by Lyman Tschanz (’82), Vice President of Connected Enterprise External Affairs, and included Mike Laszkiewicz (’84), Senior Vice President of Operations & Engineering Services; Tessa Myers, President-North America; and Murphy.

The panelists were in agreement that the skills gap in manufacturing is perhaps the most significant dilemma in industry today.

“Seventy-five million Baby Boomers are heading towards retirement,” says Murphy. “By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be Millennials and Gen Z.  They understand the internet and other technologies. At the same time, a lot of knowledge will be walking out the doors with the Boomers.”

Myers added that the next generations of workers will not only need to be technology fluent.  They will also need to be “system thinkers” with strong soft skills who are able to work in teams, collaborate, and communicate in these organization-spanning digital transformation initiatives.

The next Lubar School of Business Alumni Chapter Business Success Series event takes place Tuesday, January 28, 2020, at RINKA, a leading architectural firm in Milwaukee. Join us for networking, a short tour, and Q&A with RINKA partners and marketing manager Sara Slowinski (’11). Information and registration information is available here.