Create Industry 4.0 strategy: This includes understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your company and laying out a five-year plan with milestones. Bakas said companies should look at existing systems they can build and what digital technology should be adopted in a measured way. This means evaluating the benefits and costs of the transition and providing a business plan with clear numbers to get stakeholders and decision makers on board. He said DocLogix customers are at different ends of the Industry 4.0 spectrum. “Some of them have started thinking about it and some of them we have to educate.”

Select the right team and the right digital tools: The transition to Industry 4.0 will require new skills that will mean hiring for roles such as user interface designers and digital innovation managers. Bakas sees an automated document and process management system like what DocLogix offers as an essential tool; whatever solution is selected should include implementation and staff training that’s customizable to the organization.

Focus on improving processes: While new technologies should be customizable, Bakas said they shouldn’t replicate and automate bad business processes. Companies should take an end-to-end look at their existing processes and look to increase collaboration, as well as simplify how the company functions wherever possible. Automation and information-related processes are a key part of the smart factory, he said.

Implement new technologies: Information technology (IT) plays a key role in digital transformation, regardless of industry. Manufacturers transitioning to Industry 4.0 should embrace an agile IT mindset, said Bakas, so that the organization can respond flexibly to business demands and continuously improve services. Companies should keep in mind what technology capabilities might be provided by the Internet of Things (IoT) and be prepared to manage devices with the necessary software upgrades and connectivity.

Improve information management: Industry 4.0 is data driven. Improving and automating process requires robust information management teams across the organization, enabling all information about the manufacturing and business processes to be available when it is needed and where it is needed. One of the obvious benefits is reduction of paper processes, said Bakas, but it also dramatically increases accountability and traceability, so that if something does wrong, the problem can be solved quickly and processes can be improved to keep that problem from recurring.

Choose a person or team to lead your digital transformation: Moving to Industry 4.0 requires leadership, said Bakas. Manufacturers should select an executive lead the transition, or establish a “digital council” of sorts execute the overall strategy and manage the integration of new digital products, platforms and services.

Understand consumer needs: Manufacturing companies need to understand their customers, said Bakas. Today’s customers are looking for speed, flexibility and customization of their products, and the automation that comes with being a smart factory is critical to responding to changing customer demands in a competitive landscape.