Faculty: Business and Law
22 July 2019
For every $1 spent on IT up to $9 needs to be spent on organisational change . How can a company invest that money wisely?
There a number of drivers and obstacles to new technology investments. Chief among these is the need for manufacturers to invest in new technologies that reduce production costs and improve the quality of work, products and services. However, firms often have difficulty assessing the implications of adopting advanced manufacturing 4.0 technologies. The financial repercussions of getting technology investments wrong can be substantial. For each $1 spent on IT, for example, up to $9 needs to be spent on IT-related ‘intangible assets’ – that is improvements in human capital, processes, work practices, management and so forth (Brinjolfsson and Macafee 2014). In other words, it is not the technology per se that brings savings but rather the accompanying organizational change that goes with it. A useful tool to help with the required analysis is benefits identification; a facilitated workshop process based on the principles of benefits realization and developed by Professor Chris Ivory and Dr Lewis Walsh from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge for an Interreg funded project, Grow-In 4.0.
As part of the project, the academics held a ‘train the trainer’ session. The new Benefits Identification process was tested with a group of companies and support agencies in Gent, Belgium. The structured workshop environment (following TOP principles) helps firms to assess the impact of current/potential technology investments, not only in terms of their likely benefits and dis-benefits, but also the wider business changes that need to take place for that investment’s value to be maximised.
The workshop session in question focussed on the introduction of a warehouse robot. The insights gained revealed multiple direct and indirect benefits to adopting such technology (such as more meaningful data collection, further automation opportunities and increased workplace safety) as well as specifying the organisational changes the imagined company would need to make in order to fully exploit the technology and reduce its likely negative impacts.
For more information about the Benefits Identification tool, or more generally the GrowIn 4.0 project, contact Dr. Lewis Walsh (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Prof. Chris Ivory (Chris.email@example.com).