By Julie Gulick, President & CEO, Bally Design, Inc.

In the 1980s, Pittsburgh faced challenges shifting from heavy industry to more knowledge-based industries such as medical devices and industrial products. 

Today, manufacturers are facing similar challenges in discovering how digital technology will impact their products and the very nature of how and why they do business.

  • Based on our experience, manufacturers need to begin a journey where:
  • Digital tools are utilized to speed up and improve design and product testing;
  • Digital technology is integrated into products;
  • Digital approaches are deployed for field service and on-site customer training;
  • Digital technology becomes the foundation of the product/solution design approach;
  • Business models are migrated to leverage solution-based approaches; and
  • Data becomes a significant element of the future revenue stream.

We are involved in all parts of this current conversation with companies in the Pittsburgh region. In our opinion, this journey does not need to be a stepwise sequence, and some aspects are more or less relevant depending on the business and the markets in which it plays; however, what is clear is that manufacturers who stay in the realm of “product-only” will be left behind.

A journey implies learning and exploring and that generally means starting small and iterating. Some larger companies will want to move more quickly and be “all in,” but we counsel that, no matter the size, you should allow for iteration.

With iteration comes the organizational learning essential to shift thinking and assumptions that have been developed over many years. Succeeding in the future of manufacturing will involve moving beyond simply adding digital as an afterthought and making it a central part of an overall offer and business model.