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August 15, 2017

Global Manufacturing Trends and Other Stories You May Have Missed

Have you ever heard the phrase "driveway moments"? The term was coined by NPR to describe those stories you can't leave. You pull into the driveway, put the car in park and just sit there until the story is over — it's that compelling. 

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A few stories that I read the past few weeks fall into that category. If I was listening to the radio and got home before the end, I'd stay in the car 'til these were finished. But the good news is you don't have to sit in your car. You can click on the links anytime you have a couple minutes for a good read. The topics range from global manufacturing trends you'd best not ignore to how city planning can teach you about leading your company's digital transformation. We've even included a video about how to talk to a robot — and how not to.

Hope you find these stories as interesting as we did.

What Will Keep Us Human in the Age of AI?

The expansion of AI is simultaneously exciting and alarming. Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking both implore scientists and business leaders to slow down the rush to AI adoption, but others pooh-pooh their warnings and say full steam ahead. As with so many things, the answer lies between the extremes. This thoughtful piece written by William H. Saito with the World Economic Forum asks the question: What will keep us human in the age of AI? I don’t want to spoil it, but the answer may surprise you.

Three Trends in Manufacturing

We read an awful lot about technology in the form of IoT or robotics in manufacturing, but not as much about the three topics discussed in this article in Industry Week. Stephen Gold, president and CEO of the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) writes that “global labor scarcities and population concentrations will provoke a rethinking on production and supply chains.” Gold says keep your eyes of three things: technology, urbanization and a focusing on the growth potential of what many believe could be the next hot manufacturing region.

The Importance of Supply Chain Diversity

Don't be fooled by the title. This isn't another story about the importance of maintaining redundant suppliers. In this case, the 'diversity' has to do with the diversity of the people in that supply chain. So, what would you say if I told you that the greater the diversity of your suppliers — with respect to gender or race and ethnicity — the higher your profits? You might scoff, but a 2015 report by McKinsey found that "companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry means.” This comprehensive story by Oliver Pickup at Raconteur explores this timely and provocative topic.

Learning About Digital Transformation from Urban Infrastructure Models

You know your company could do better with integrating digital technology into operations but the switch is time-consuming and change is so...hard. This Harvard Business Review article suggests a model of digital transformation is right in front of us. Using three very different cities as examples, the article's author Paul Beswick says that companies, "chart a course to improve their digital capabilities by learning from major cities, which have confronted challenges on an even larger scale." Digital transformation is almost always difficult and expensive, but learning to think like a city planner can help.

Companion Robots Are Here. Just Don't Fall In Love With Them.

In addition to a link to a fifth article, we're also sharing the accompanying video, courtesy of WIRED magazine. Have you thought about how we’re going to interact with robot helpers both at work or at home? This video examines the relationship between humans and robots, discussing the need to set expectations in the way we interact with robot in our lives and the vitally important component of human emotion.

 

To read more on these topics, check out these previous posts:

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Filed Under: Manufacturing, Robotics, supply chain