June 03, 2024

Shifting C-Suite Perspectives: Viewing Technology as a Strategic Asset, Not Just Task Automation 

Technology, despite all its digital wizardry, is just another machine. It is understandable that manufacturing executives have historically viewed software as another mechanical asset, not fundamentally different from a conveyor belt, sorting machine, or forklift. Executives traditionally add tech tools to solve a problem or add a capability, with the goal being not to maintain the status quo but to improve upon it.

This mindset does not view technology in a strategic or transformational way. It views technology as transactional—add X to get Y. That might have worked in the past. However, in manufacturing’s present and future, where technology increasingly differentiates one company from another and drives success or failure, the C-suite must think differently about technology. It may be able to push key metrics to previously unthinkable heights—but that is exactly the wrong context.

Technology can boost productivity, efficiency, quality, automation, and more. But that is just the beginning. Moreover, if the C-suite does not expand its thinking, and soon, those manufacturers will struggle to remain relevant and competitive for much longer.

A New Era of Technology

Unlike yesterday’s technology, which was largely about upgrading existing tasks, workflows, and processes, today’s technology offers manufacturers the potential to adopt new strategies, move into new markets, and rethink their whole business model.

That is because the current generation of technology emphasizes integration to link disconnected pieces together, plus automation to enable excellence at scale. Decision-makers now have unprecedented visibility and control even over complex manufacturing processes and lengthy global supply chains thanks to technologies that capture, store, and analyze endless data points. That data brings problems, solutions, and untapped opportunities into focus—but only at organizations where the C-Suite sees technology as a strategic asset.

Shifting Perspectives at the Top

Executives can be stubborn, and they tend to be confident in their opinions. Getting them to think differently is one challenge. Teaching them how to think correctly about a complicated subject like technology is another. It takes a careful approach to get the right message across, combined with a concise delivery to make an impression in the limited time that the C-suite, individually and collectively, has available to listen.

Keep the pitch tight by focusing on the strategic and business benefits of new technology rather than the technical specs. Read business publications to explore how real companies are using emerging technologies and reference industry analysts like Gartner for numbers to illustrate tech’s impact. Show the C-suite what is possible and then prove it is practical.

Making Permanent Changes

Convincing leadership to replace legacy software or authorize new tech investment is a step in the right direction, but it is not the same as a shift in perspective. The C-suite could return to an outdated mindset unless someone in the organization consistently encourages and enables leadership to see technology in new ways.s

One way to accomplish that is by assigning an individual to regularly update the C-suite about advancements in technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). More formally, designate someone to be a champion responsible for keeping the company on pace or ahead of the industry in terms of technology. Give them time with the C-suite and put some weight behind their recommendations. The most mature manufacturers rely on a Center of Excellence to function—a team of tech champions with the endorsement of the C-suite to keep the company at the head of the pack.

Executives have undergone a meaningful mindset shift—rather than just paying lip service to technology—when they show real curiosity about digital solutions. They give people time and space to voice their technology ideas; they fund conference trips to keep the company current; and they recruit for technology skills. Most importantly, the C-suite starts to see technology not as just one part of the strategy but as the driving force of the whole effort. It’s the most important strategic asset for the modern manufacturer. The modern executive will agree.

Turn New Perspectives into Real Progress with Guide Technologies

Even with the complete support of the C-suite, making strategic gains with new technology can be an elusive goal.

The team at Guide Technologies has decades of collective experience with manufacturing technology and the means to help with any or all stages in the tech lifecycle. From building a business case for new solutions to leading the selection, implementation, and optimization efforts, our team is here to make technology easier to adopt and transformative to deploy.

Ready to confidently embrace new technology?Let our team of experts be your guide. Contact us today.