Productivity, profitability and efficiency many have been at the centre of how companies are managed for the past 30 years, but, increasingly, all companies - from start-ups to global giants - now pay attention to business sustainability.
But, what does business sustainability actually mean and how can it be achieved? John Kitchingman, managing director – EuroNorth for Dassault Systèmes, took to the main stage at Manufacturing Leaders’ Summit 2019 to offer some guidance.
Companies of all sizes are facing unprecedented levels of disruption. Political uncertainty, fast-changing consumer preferences, an ageing workforce, the omnipresence of technology, these are just some of the factors forcing leaders to rethink their strategies to ensure business sustainability.
“Companies that don’t transform run the risk of falling by the wayside,” warned Kitchingman.
So, how do businesses select the right initiatives, manage change and seize opportunities?
These were the types of questions Dassault Systèmes set out to answer when it launched a strategic, multi-level programme to capture and distil the insights and experience of some of the brightest corporate minds at the forefront of global business.
Earlier this year, more than 100 leaders from multiple industries, together with senior academics, government officials and policy-makers gathered for Dassault Systèmes’ inaugural Business Sustainability event.
The mission was to identify the principle that will guide companies towards business sustainability.
“Through a combination of research and live events, workforce development, product and/or service innovation, and digital transformation were highlighted as the most important factors to achieving long-term business sustainability,” Kitchingman said.
“When asked to identify the main challenges to implementing initiatives to transform their businesses, the leaders highlighted changing culture, processes, organisation and technology, followed by collaborating and communicating across the organisation.”
The leaders then created a checklist of practical guidelines that organisations can use in their journey towards business sustainability.
- Challenge investors to support sustainable futures and not just short-term gains
- Build in flexibility and speed to market
- Harness experimentation, failure and simulation and/or the virtual world to adapt products to the new rate of change
- Foster a business culture that is open to change
- Leverage AI and data to drive a new way of thinking and competitive advantage
- Drive constant change as the new norm across your business, strategies and technology
- Lifelong learning at the core of the workforce now and of the future – nothing is constant but change and their ability to adapt is the primary skill for sustainability
- Collaborate across industries, organisations and boundaries
- Cultivate your corporate memory as well as knowledge and know-how
But what do these findings mean in practical terms for manufacturing companies?
Dassault Systèmes has defined three pillars that enable companies to achieve sustainable manufacturing, create value and grow as a business.
People – the workforce of now and of the future
“Tomorrow’s most successful and sustainable companies will be those that empower their people to do work and build innovation with the best knowledge and know-how,” Kitchingman said.
“Capturing knowledge and know-how from today’s workforce provides the inspiration for future workers. It’s about connecting the dots between people, ideas and data inside and outside a company and having this know-how readily available on demand.”
“By optimising processes companies can reduce the burden of manufacturing unique customer experiences while simultaneously reducing waste in material, time, and energy,” Kitchingman continued.
“Industry 4.0 strategies such as automation and sensors on the shop floor offer some productivity gains but tomorrows leaders need to solve the production puzzle by leveraging the digital world to master production complexity, diversity and speed.
“With digitalisation and a 3DEXPERIENCE twin you can model, optimise and simulate manufacturing to identify problems before they become a reality and ensure operations run efficiently.”
Value Network Orchestration
“In the past, the world of manufacturing has been modelled on OEM’s and Tier 1 suppliers; but to achieve a true value network, it’s necessary to foster transparency, visibility and collaboration across all suppliers of all sizes,” Kitchingman concluded.
“With this kind of value network in place, companies can coordinate multiple actors, connecting them quickly and efficiently. A value network like this can only be realised by use of a unified business platform that drives collaboration through a common approach for connecting and utilising information and resources.”