Thursday, 17 January 2019

Towards meaningful adoption of technology

Meaningful implementation of technology penetration is a multi-tiered challenge for any organisation, but discussion often revolves around anxiety with regards to its huge investments.
Recently, this column addressed this anxiety in relation to investing in technology to improve organizational efficiency.
From a financial standpoint, investing in emerging technology requires sound planning to balance risk versus rewards.
Technology is not just a means of staying ahead but also staying afloat. It’s use not just in high volume industrial applications, but also includes highly-affordable cloud-based tools that improve efficiency of small businesses in inventory management and tracking, financial reporting and monitoring as well as creative production. These avenues are where organisations, small or big, should start instilling technology culture.
Subscription-based models are fast becoming a popular offering for business owners. Gone are the days when you had to purchase expensive software only to later realise it only added to depreciation costs (and depression costs). Today, you can simply lease software that you need for as long as you need it, with very little risk to the businesses’ financial commitments.
This same concept is the basis of numerous Malaysia Automtive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii) productivity nucleus programs, such as Additive Manufacturing, Digital Engineering & Prototyping (DEP), Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) and High Performance Cloud Computing server.
These services are positioned to accelerate the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies within all levels of businesses, across the entire automotive supply chain. Instead of absorbing all risks involved with technology procurement, automotive businesses now have new avenues to test the waters for the technology areas they intend to implement.
Coupled with MARii’s human capital development programmes, industry players have access to a one stop centre for technology based solutions under one roof, allowing them to focus on their core function – sustain a competitive business model which in turn brings the obvious benefits to the economy, and the country as a whole.
For example, MARii’s High Performance Cloud Computing system is capable of helping businesses drastically reduce computing, calculation, and design lead times for applications such as crash simulation, big data analysis and management, telematics, even 3D animation rendering.
Companies need only to lease the use of the computing power at their desired stage of their projects, either by temporarily seconding their design team on site (office space is provided), or transmitting their data directly via the cloud.
While risks associated with technology investments can now be better mitigated, the key management aspect is getting the whole organization to be invested in technology. Any transformation from labour intensive processes towards technology infused workflows require instilling the right discipline to continuously use the new platforms available, by all members of the organization.
Obviously, the first step is top management buy-in – and the next step would be a holistic realignment to educate the workforce out of technology averseness. Company policies must be redefined to incentivize the use of productive technology platforms, while providing the necessary training and mentoring, engagement and follow up beyond one-time introductory sessions merely driven by a few individuals.
As new technologies emerge on a daily basis, it is easy for us to be apathetic due to an inability to keep up with the technology options available. To address this situation, technology decision makers within the company must, above all, champion technology solutions that cater to problems faced by their teams and avoid hard sell approaches without buy in from their employees.
In a global economy that is rapidly encouraging the formation of global value chains, interactions, workflows and processes between business organisations and individuals need to be quicker and more effective, i.e. will likely depend on solutions provided by disruptive technology. The only way for us to remain competitive is to find solutions to match the speed of such technology disruptions – we must ensure technology literacy reaches all levels of our workforce.

The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii)

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