Digitisation vs Automation

In the world of Industry 4.0, digitisation and automation are buzzwords that are widely used. However, there seems to be a misconception between these two terms. Digitisation refers to doing things with a computer instead of doing them in an analogue way. Automation, on the other hand, refers to a process that is fully or partially automatic. It is important to note that just because a process is digitised does not mean it is automated.

In the printing industry, for example, instead of manual imposition, foil cutting and other analogue processes, these processes can be carried out digitally thanks to digitisation. However, this does not necessarily mean that the process is automated. There are still many digital processes that are fully manual, semi-automatic, or fully automatic.

Another misconception is the one between workflow and automation. Many people think that a workflow means they have automated almost all their processes. However, a workflow is not ‘automation’. A piece of workflow-software can automate certain things, but not everything.

It is important to understand that a workflow is not just ‘a piece of software’, but rather the entire process from the customer’s intention to the final printed order. Automation therefore involves connecting all these different elements and making the whole process as automated as possible.

Many people have tried automation before and it has not worked for them. This is often caused by poor implementation. Purchasing a product or technology does not solve anything. It is the implementation of the product that brings a solution to the problem. Unfortunately, poor implementation is often due to a lack of strategic focus, the right technical profiles, and resources.

Successful implementation of automation requires a strategic focus involving management and the entire company. The right resources should be allocated and the whole process should be seen as an ongoing focus rather than a one-off integration project. In addition, the implementation should be handled by the right technical profiles, with knowledge of APIs and scripts, for requirements definition, project management, and change management. Furthermore, clear industry knowledge, expertise in digital strategy, and impact on business models are key to a successful project.

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