For many, the grand idea of the American Dream is epitomized in the rapid economic growth that occurred in the middle of the twentieth century. Mainstream industries such as manufacturing, oil and gas, and telecom established themselves as havens for blue-collar workers. The country ran on real, raw materials, not information and digital assets. At least, that's how the narrative often goes. Even telecom was largely built on analog solutions and rotary phones.
"The industry giants of the 20th century are becoming the technology titans of the new millennium."
This vision of a perfect economy grounded in raw materials with clear value may be a bit overly optimistic, but it does point to a clear situation many of the economic systems that underpin where the world is today were built on the back of these classic industries.
Whether or not we should be striving to recreate the vision of yesteryear isn't necessarily important for the manufacturing, oil and gas, and telecom sectors. Organizations in these industries, like always, face their fair share of challenges and possibilities. However, they also share a common thread they are increasingly dependent on digital technologies to get the job done. Those General Electric commercials you see where people say they got a job working with GE only to reveal they are programmers or AI designers aren't an exaggeration.
The industry giants of the 20th century are becoming the technology titans of the new millennium.
Let's look at each of these sectors in more detail and consider just how much digital technologies are impacting them.
The IoT has become a disruptive force in the manufacturing sector, pushing organizations to gain greater transparency into every facet of operations through connected devices. Zebra Technologies found that the number of fully connected factories will double between 2017 and 2022, creating an operational climate in which 88 percent of manufacturers polled in the study said they expect revenue growth through the period. Manufacturers are moving quickly to develop connected factories in part because they need greater operational visibility and flexibility to keep up with changing customer demands. The study found that:
Digital transformation is giving manufacturers an opportunity to put a new focus on quality, and emerging connected technologies underpin this progress.
While the manufacturing sector is rapidly moving toward maturation when it comes to digital technologies, the oil and gas industry is still getting going. However, a Deloitte study found that current conditions in the sector are pushing companies to embrace digital. At this point, most oil and gas businesses clearly understand the benefits of greater connectivity and digital maturity. The challenging nature of the process has held them back. These barriers are disappearing however, as the news source explained that organizations are:
According to Deloitte, digital transformation offers a path to operational efficiency and lean operations, helping businesses stabilize expenses and revenues even as demand and price parameters in the industry change.
Telecom providers are in a somewhat unique position when it comes to digital transformation. The World Economic Forum explained that telecoms are simultaneously emerging as key enablers for digital technologies in other industries while also facing pressure to adapt and adjust themselves. For telecom, the move to invest in new technology takes the form of a few major developments, according to the WEF, including:
While telecoms play a big part in fueling digital transformation, they are also facing a period of disruption as they work to keep up with emerging market demands.
As businesses in these classic sectors adjust to digital technologies, they need solutions that allow them to operate more flexibly. The problem is they can't simply latch on to the latest tech fad or startup that is gaining traction. The established nature of these industries means that companies face serious regulatory pressure, security threats and operational complexity that must be addressed.
Application development platforms featuring business process management tools are emerging as essential digital transformation enablers for companies facing such challenges. The platform offers a secure hub for data integration and low-code app development, streamlining application creation and customization. From there, advanced role management tools simplify user authentication and data protection. Modern solutions, such as Appian, offer the blend of flexibility and stability that businesses need in the emerging digital marketplace.
Appian is a software company that automates business processes. The Appian Platform includes everything you need to design, automate, and optimize even the most complex processes, from start to finish. The world's most innovative organizations trust Appian to improve their workflows, unify data, and optimize operations—resulting in better growth and superior customer experiences.