Rethink: The Manufacturing Leadership Council Summit kicked off on October 27, for the first time as a virtual event since its inception. MLC Co-Founder, Vice President and Executive Director David Brousell kicked off the event with remarks focused on the immense disruption that manufacturing has faced during a challenging year – and the ways that digital technology has helped organizations rise to the occasion.

Brousell cited MLC’s own research that demonstrated how the ability to adapt to rapid change was clearly linked to an organization’s digital maturity. In May, 67% of respondents to an MLC poll said digital technologies were important to their ability to respond to the crisis, whether it was shifting production lines, enabling remote capabilities, or mitigating supply chain disruptions.

Also noted were the challenges to developing a digital-first organization, including the mind-numbing volume of data that manufacturers can now acquire – everything from equipment utilization to product lifecycle to customer satisfaction. While acquiring that data is the first step, it is essential to have the ability to organize that data, rely on its accuracy, and make decisions based on that information. As an industry, many manufacturers still struggle to achieve this level of digital mastery.

Additionally, executive leadership is now tasked not just with needing traditional business skills but also digital acumen – an area where many find themselves still lagging.

“Perceptions change as a greater sense of urgency comes on,” Brousell said. “It seems the digital revolution is no longer in the future, but it is now.”