MTForecast Recap: Manufacturing & Data

Last week I had the chance to go to Cleveland, the Rock and Roll Capital of the World and this year’s home of MTForecast from the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT). The theme of the conference was “Visualizing the future” and there was a lot of chatter around industry trends and data within the manufacturing economy.

My head was certainly all about data and its connections to manufacturing.

Here are my three takeaways:

1. House of the Rising Data

In my first presentation at the conference, “Turning Data into Intelligence Through BI & AI,” I went through how to use data to make important business decisions. From the Q&A after, I could tell people were interested in how to leverage the data they are already accumulating.

My advice: Make data widely available—don’t let it get caught up in silos. In addition, make sure your data is coming from a centralized location (everyone is pulling data from one place) and you are all using a standardized language (for example, everyone agrees on the definition of customer). Combine this with data models instead of data tables, and you will be able to focus on what the data is telling you, instead of getting bogged down by the data itself.

2. Takin’ Care of Business with the Future Workforce

People are curious on how to grow or reskill their workforce during a digital transformation—but this raises a lot of questions. For example, as manufacturing prepares for Industrial Revolution 4.0—how will you make sure you are implementing software with high team adoptions rates? And, taking that one step further, how do you know if you have had an unsuccessful adoption, or perhaps just performance issues with your workforce?

My take: Make sure you implement adoption training and engage all staff in a digital transformation—it will then become clear whether you are dealing with faulty software or faulty employees.

3. How to Keep on Rockin’ (with tech) in the Free World

We hear it all the time: Is everybody as far behind as us? Truth is, when it comes to technology, everyone is always behind all the time. That’s the best part and the beast part of technology. People are thinking other industries are so much further ahead than they are, but the reality is, everyone is trying to figure out what’s going on with the advances of technology and how it can help grow their business, avoid disruption, and gain a competitive edge.

What to do: Get a partner. There are people whose job it is to help you navigate to the constant changing world of technology. But before you implement a software or even engage a consultant, make sure they are the right fit not only for your industry, but also for your specific business. Ask questions—and be wary of any “instant solution.” Navigating a digital transformation is complex—find partners that understand the complexity in relation to your business.

About Tim

Tim Kulp took an unconventional path to his tech career, so it makes sense that his tech career is anything but conventional. A homegrown Maryland boy, Tim has always been captivated by what makes us uniquely human: art, religion, storytelling. These are the things he studied in college before “a series of coincidences led to an accident,” his first IT job.

Now, whether working with startups, global brands, advertisers or healthcare providers, he pushes clients to find the technology that makes them more creative, more productive, more human. As our VP of Innovation & Strategy, he’s known throughout the Mid-Atlantic as the guy who makes tech people-centric.

When Tim isn’t working or spending time with his family, he’s still working. Honing his storytelling craft, mentoring up-and-coming professionals, or reading up on game design and theory. That’s how it is when your job is also your calling. In the era of artificial intelligence, Tim’s crusade to make us more human can’t be confined to business hours.