Posted on 10/24/2018

The Reward of Overcoming Fear, Perceived Pain of IoT and the Digital Transformation

Kurt Dykema

Nobody wants to admit it, everyone tries to avoid it, and yet we’ll all succumb to it at some point: a business paralysis rooted in fear. And if you’re a seasoned manufacturing company, that fear may be linked to the transformative change driven by the Internet of Things (IoT). 

If you’ve ever picked up an exercise regimen after a period of inactivity, then you’re familiar with pain. It’s no surprise that many people quit after experiencing that kind of pain and abandon the process required to get results because of the effort required. This is actually a relevant analogy for what’s been an acute problem with business and manufacturing for years: the fear of growing pains. 

Before dismissing growing pains as being solely for the youthful startup and not a well-established business, you have to acknowledge why you’re here and reading this in the first place. The assumption is that it is to grow your knowledge of Industry 4.0, your understanding of IoT’s place in your business model and, ultimately, your bottom line. 

Businesses, like people, want to be inoculated from the hard work and pain of transformation. But what businesses and manufacturers need to achieve their goals (and show value to their stakeholders) is a coach in the form of a partner/collaborator who will see them through the process and avoid unnecessary pain. Transformation is the reward of doing the challenging work.

The hardest part is getting started. To help with that, here are three steps you can start before Q4 is over to move your organization toward embracing IoT to thrive in the years ahead. 

1. Get Uncomfortably Curious. Who are the innovative leaders in your industry? What are they doing different? How did they do it? What was at risk for them? Asking these questions of those who are currently innovating can provide insights and reveal the blind spots as you begin your journey toward technology and digital innovation. Even if it’s uncomfortable to admit you’re not yet on the cutting edge, ask anyway. Also, get curious about others who are in adjacent industries who won’t see you as a competitor. They may be willing to share their transformation more freely. 

2. Address Resource Constraints. Specifically we’re talking about talent and budget. Manufacturing still lags in recognizing innovation as critical to business growth and worthy of the investment. When manufacturing facilities are located outside of innovation hubs and smart cities, it becomes even more difficult to recruit the right talent early in the transformation process. With these entrenched realities, advocating for a crawl-before-we-walk-before-we-run approach can open the door for outside experts and partners to guide you through the innovation process and investment necessities in a strategic manner.   

3. Make the Business Case. Every business that is now actively innovating was once in your shoes asking these same questions: Will this work? How long will it take? What will it cost?  Will we see a return on our investment? And, is there a need for it in the market? Making the case starts with sharing data you glean from talking with others who have figured out how to innovate and the barriers that need to be overcome (steps 1 and 2). But more than that, outlining what it will mean to your company in terms of transforming culture, products and the bottom line can help to move even the most entrenched company toward a path of innovation. Or perhaps you may be asking yourselves, what if we do nothing? Or, what does the future look like if we wait?

If you are attending Integr8, the Industry 4.0 Conference in November, you can get curious during the breakout session: Stories of Digital Transformation: Successful Transformation Case Studies. This session features leaders from Herman Miller, Whirlpool Corp., and Morey Corp. – all of whom have embraced IIoT and digital transformation as part of rethinking products. Come learn from and speak with leaders who have overcome the fear and perceived pain of innovating.

Keep this in mind: individuals who decide to lean into the exercise regimen and get results often are transformed for life and embrace new ways to live. The same can be said for companies that push through their fears. They become the organizations poised to succeed in the future.

About the Author

Kurt Dykema | Twisthink

Kurt Dykema is a founding partner and Director of Technology for Twisthink, a value-added partner helping manufacturing companies bring new products or services to life by leveraging strategic insights and applying intuitive design with technology. Connect with Kurt and his team at


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