By: Ben Pring
If you’re a music fan, you probably know the name Clive Davis. If you’re not though – and heaven help you – Clive Davis is one of the most successful music producers and record industry executives of all time. He’s worked with a who’s who of rock and pop musicians, from Janis Joplin to Rod Stewart to Whitney Houston, over the last 50 years. Now 85, he’s still in the game as the chief creative officer of Sony Music Entertainment. By any measure of success and longevity in what is, after all, an extremely precarious and fickle business, Davis has earned his place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
What, you may be wondering though, does the archetypal A&R man have to do with “digital transformation?” Well, let me explain …
The “digital” alarm bell has been going off (literally and figuratively) now for over 20 years. The transition to the cloud, the slow decline of ERP, the rise of Google and Apple and Amazon, the primacy of “consumer IT,” the move to Agile and containers, the awakening to the power of data, the importance of design thinking – none of these are new. And yet, in the second half of 2017, many, many organizations still struggle to master them, let alone leverage them, to thrive in markets changing all around them faster than ever.
The question is, why? In my humble opinion, it’s because the executives running these organizations don’t think like Clive Davis.
It’s Not About You
Clive Davis’s success can be attributed, in no small measure, to his ability to separate his own personal tastes from those of the market. As an octogenarian, Davis probably favors Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett when he’s doing the dishes or mowing the lawn (as if). But when he’s working, he’s listening like an 18-year-old and can hear the magic in Lil Uzi Vert or Rex Orange County – music that to his contemporaries must sound like the aural equivalent of a dislocated shoulder. Or at least the decline and fall of Western civilization.
Davis recognizes that he is not the target audience, that the music is not aimed at him and has nothing to say to him. He knows he wouldn’t buy the music. But yet, he can still make judgments about its quality and its commercial appeal. And he can do this precisely because he knows the music isn’t being made for him.
This is the mistake that is hampering so many executives in so many businesses facing the onslaught of change being rendered by digital technology. They don’t personally like the new generation of technology and technology mediated solutions, and they don’t appreciate that the new technology/solutions aren’t aimed at them.
Twitter is ridiculous. Facebook is for egotistical blowhards. What even is Snap? Why do my kids spend so much time on it? Social media is destroying a generation. We can’t do this transaction online because of the threat of hackers. Pokémon Go? Give me a break. Virtual reality? What are these guys on? The cloud? But we’ve got a data center. Monetize our customer’s data? Why? Isn’t that illegal? How does this Slack thing even work? What’s wrong with e-mail?
How to Love What You Don’t Love
To the average 50-year-old, running an insurance company, a bank, an airline, a retailer, contemporary technology, contemporary business approaches and contemporary norms are the commercial equivalent of Lil Uzi Vert – terrible, ugly, ridiculous, not nearly as good as the things we listened to, aka, the technology solutions we built and used.
These executives fail to see they are not the target audience. That new solutions shouldn’t be built for their contemporaries but for their kids. They fail to separate their own personal tastes from the tastes of where the market is going.
Doing this – separating your own personal judgments from those of the market – is terribly hard (hence why so few executives can do it). It’s tough for people who have ascended slippery career ladders to admit they don’t know something. It’s tough for them to even contemplate that they are “aging out,” that they are no longer “hip to the hop,” in touch, on fleek. But mostly, it’s hard to admit – privately to yourself, let alone publically to your staff/boss/board – that you’re no longer that interested in something and that you don’t really like X or Y.
To truly grasp the promise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, you’ve got to really love it, and everything about it. Or, if you can’t, you’ve got to surround yourself with people who do. In Clive Davis’s case, this means A&R people who trawl the clubs and SoundCloud and YouTube and Spotify and SXSW. In your case, it could be a youth mentor or a digital whisperer you trust in the industry.
So next time you’re in a meeting with your team trying to inch forward with your digital transformation initiative, remember to think like Clive Davis. It’s not about you – it’s about the next generation and the stupid things they’re interested in. Play your Sinatra or Costello or Counting Crows tunes all you like at home. But don’t pretend that, now that you have the turntable (aka the digital transformation budget), the kids are going to dig what you all say. They ain’t lit with that.
This article originally appeared on the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work site.
Cognizant (Nasdaq: CTSH) is dedicated to helping the world’s leading companies build stronger businesses — helping them go from doing digital to being digital.
Improving working conditions with blockchain
Blockchain is more often spoken about as an external tool for businesses to help secure supply chain. In a new pilot, blockchain is to be used to help improve health and safety within the workplace – at a Levi Strauss factory.
The testing out of blockchain as an internal health and safety auditing tool is being run as a collaboration between Harvard University’s public health graduate school, U.S. think-tank New America and the U.S. denim jeans company Levi Strauss & Co. The three have declared a project to design, build and operate a blockhain-based system for health and safety at work.
The new technology will be designed to augment outside auditors of factory health and safety with a system that will allow factory workers to self-report issues of concern. The factories that will test out the technology are based in Mexico, where three manufacturing sites in total employ 5,000 workers.
Mexico’s regulations for health and safety laws are exclusively federal in content. Under this legislation employers must obey standards, maintain safety programs, maintain compliance systems, ensure proper equipment and hazardous substance control. However, the level of safety is often subject to criticism (as with the International Labor Organization), such as in terms of accident rates and occupational illnesses like respiratory diseases.
The new project is designed to provide an alternate avenue for worker health and safety to be addressed, outside of periodic audit, and the mechanism enables a U.S. based company to ensure that clothes manufactured for the U.S. market are produced under conditions that are safe for workers.
The aim of the scheme is to input an annual worker survey on the blockchain. Once inputted the company’s site-based managers will be unable to alter it, and the findings will be made available to the workforce. The findings will be available for Mexican authorities to review as well as U.S.-based Levi Strauss managers. The blockchain will be provided by ConsenSys, the blockchain company founded by Joseph Lubin, once of Ethereum.
Tesla wants its factory workers to wear futuristic augmented reality glasses on the assembly line
- Tesla patent filings reveal plans for augmented reality glasses to assist with manufacturing.
- Factory employees has previously used Google Glass in its factory as recently as 2016.
To cut down on the number of fit and finish issues — like the “significant inconsistencies” found by UBS— Tesla employees on the assembly line could soon use augmented reality glasses similar to Google Glass to help with car production, according to new patent filings.
Last week, Tesla filed two augmented reality patents that outline a futuristic vision for the relationship between humans and robots when it comes to manufacturing. The “smart glasses” would double as safety glasses, and would help workers identify places for joints, spot welds, and more, the filings say.
Here’s how it works:
And here’s the specific technical jargon outlining the invention (emphasis ours):
The AR device captures a live view of an object of interest, for example, a view of one or more automotive parts. The AR device determines the location of the device as well as the location and type of the object of interest. For example, the AR device identifies that the object of interest is a right hand front shock tower of a vehicle. The AR device then overlays data corresponding to features of the object of interest, such as mechanical joints, interfaces with other parts, thickness of e-coating, etc. on top of the view of the object of interest. Examples of the joint features include spot welds, self-pierced rivets, laser welds, structural adhesive, and sealers, among others. As the user moves around the object, the view of the object from the perspective of the AR device and the overlaid data of the detected features adjust accordingly.
As Electrek points out, Tesla has previously been employing Google Glass Enterprise as early as 2016, though it’s not clear how long it was in use.
Tesla has a tricky relationship with robotics in its factory. In April, CEO Elon Musk admitted its Fremont, California factory had relied too heavily on automated processes. Those comments, to CBS This Morning, came after criticism from a Bernstein analyst who said “We believe Tesla has been too ambitious with automation on the Model 3 line.”
Still, the company seems to be hoping for a more harmonious relationship between human and machine this time around.
“Applying computer vision and augmented reality tools to the manufacturing process can significantly increase the speed and efficiency related to manufacturing and in particular to the manufacturing of automobile parts and vehicles,” the patent application reads.
This article was originally published on Business Insider. Copyright 2018.
Dow Chemical envisions the future of manufacturing
Dow Chemical, one of the world’s biggest chemical producers, is taking a leadership role in the digital transformation of its industry.
Despite its foundation in the pure science of chemistry, the chemicals manufacturing industry doesn’t exactly conjure high-tech images when people think of what goes into making chemical products.
And yet, the chemicals industry is poised to be the poster child for the very high-tech Industry 4.0 revolution, which takes existing manufacturing processes, and infuses them with digital DNA, thanks to the IIoT.
Dow Chemical, one of the world’s biggest chemical producers, is already taking a leadership role in the digital transformation of its industry. “We have significant amounts of data from our instrumentation and process sensors to use with the new analytics and deep-learning technologies,” Billy Bardin, Dow’s Global Operations Technology Center director, told Chemical Engineering.
Dow, like many other chemical companies, has been using sensor tech for decades, but the IIoT represents an entirely new model for how data from these sensors becomes part of the company’s end-to-end process. Not only does the IIoT offer optimization of the production process, it can improve efficiency, while reducing both energy consumption, and operational cost.
Safety — a key consideration given the stakes — can also be improved. Many chemical producers, including Dow, are still manufacturing at facilities that date back 50 years or more. Modernizing these plants is a constant effort, but with the advent of the IIoT, gains in situational awareness accompany the gains in efficiency and productivity.
Recently, the company enlisted the help of Schneider Electric to digitize its Carrollton, KY processing plant, giving teams better data visibility for pumps, valves and motors. The roadmap also includes the addition of Schneider’s HART devices to enable operations and maintenance teams to remotely view equipment health or thresholds for valves in order to manage them better, according to Automation World. The improvements in preventative maintenance this data enables are key to better employee safety, as well as protecting the environment.
Better efficiency, cost savings, and greater safety? Strong arguments for better chemistry through digitization.
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