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The COVID-19 pandemic fast-tracked innovation and digital transformation across all industries, but few have been impacted as profoundly as manufacturing. Across the globe, manufacturers were forced to shift their shop-floor operations to meet the development and distribution needs of essential goods and services. Automotive manufacturers, for example, began producing ventilators for hospitals. Others focused on the development of PPE, including facemasks, latex gloves, and hand sanitizer.

These short-term experiences will have long-term impacts. The manufacturing industry was already trending toward a more digital, data-driven future — but that transformation was moving at a somewhat leisurely pace. The popular concept of Agile was once the end goal of a five-year plan for manufacturers. Now, agility has become crucial to short-term survival. Going forward, there will be a blurring of the lines between industry ecosystems as manufacturers and their third-party partners have more access to — and more use for — data than ever before.

Here at Cisco, we are primed to not only help our manufacturing customers navigate this new landscape but ultimately lead by example.

Decades of Manufacturing DNA

Unlike many of today’s emerging technology companies and software providers, Cisco has deep roots in traditional manufacturing — after all, we have decades of experience manufacturing networking hardware and infrastructure.

Our history in hardware, paired with Cisco’s more recent dominance in the software segment, lets us uniquely understand the needs of today’s manufacturers, helping them adjust and evolve amidst the pandemic. It also lets us help them plan and set benchmarks as they define future success.

This growth mindset fueled by transformation has led us to win multiple industry awards — including Enterprise Integration Technology Leadership and Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Analytics Leadership. Most recently, I had the honor of receiving the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Digital Transformation Leadership award.

Merging DX and CX

The “secret sauce” behind Cisco’s success in the manufacturing sector exists in the confluence of Digital Transformation (DX) and Customer Experience (CX). To be truly agile, strong DX investment is a must-have. Companies need to develop an infrastructure that supports cross-industry collaboration, data transparency among partners, real-time analytics and mobility across the entire supply chain, services at the edge, and more. Each step of the way can seem like a massive project in and of itself. On top of this, add an urgent need for enhanced security and an additional layer of AI and automation, and it’s easy to understand why some feel overwhelmed.

This year at Hannover Messe, Dan Wiggins, VP of Industry Solutions Group at Cisco, sat down with Domenic Tota, Executive Director of Global Infrastructure Engineering at Estēe Lauder, to discuss how they were able to leverage these technologies and Agile methodologies to build their factory of the future. Tota explained how security remained in the center of their entire DX journey. Estēe Lauder brought tens of thousands of sensors onto an IP network that needed to remain secure end to end — as bringing any industrial system onto an IP network increases the threat factor. Everything from advanced threat monitoring, high availability, and device communication were needed to ensure the project’s success.

Aside from the technological feats and massive digital investment required to make such a transformation successful, there’s also a crucial need for access to the right talent for the task. Building new platforms and integrating new technologies requires dedicated IT teams with very specialized skill sets. Many manufacturers don’t have the existing talent on hand or the resources to build dedicated teams in real time. Cisco’s CX services give these manufacturers access to Cisco experts who have the dedicated skills needed to complete any and all aspects of the DX journey.

During the discussion at Hannover Messe, Tota discussed how people remained central to the success of their smart manufacturing transformation. To ensure that their employees were best prepared to meet each project’s volatile shifts in demand, a clear governance model was needed to foster an environment of collaboration. Tota explained, “The technology is the easy part. It’s bringing people together that will make us successful.”

The entire session between Wiggins, Tota, and Bosch Executive Vice President & Chief Digital Officer of Mobility Solutions, Bernd Heinrichs is available on-demand:

Watch the keynote session in the Cisco Newsroom

On-Demand: Industrial Pioneers Bosch and Estée Lauder Discuss Industry 4.0 and What’s Ahead

A Trusted Partner

At Cisco, we’ve been recognized by NAM and other industry-leading organizations because we understand both the DX and CX sides of the innovation equation. We not only have strands of both traditional manufacturing and digital innovation in our corporate DNA, but we also have an award-winning team of CX experts who help simplify the DX journey. Our Customer Experience transformation ensures that we are structured internally and externally to enable and drive our customers’ success.

Our ambitions don’t stop here. We always seek to leverage our growing expertise in the software and services space, to bring new and emerging technologies to life on our shop floor and throughout the supply chain. Transformation and industry-leading experiences start at home. We’re excited for our manufacturing customers and partners to take this leap with us, setting the stage for what today’s manufacturers will be able to accomplish tomorrow.