The word “digitalisation” has been used since the early seventies. First it was about IT and automation, then came the internet and e-business, later the mobile internet, social media and so on. Through all this, the message has always been that the world will change radically.
One of the latest new developments on the digital front is the industrial internet. Consumer business has already been impacted heavily, and now it’s time for manufacturing to also go digital. Without going any deeper into the definitions, the industrial internet comprises several relatively new technologies, such as augmented reality, software robotics, 3D printing, wearable computing, the Internet of Things, autonomous robots, cloud computing and big data, to mention a few.
All of these technologies are evolving very rapidly, and when applied alone or together, the results can be amazing. It is easy to picture a whole new reality of intelligent robots performing complicated tasks, drones flying in the air making express deliveries to customers, on-line data visualised on eye glasses for performing maintenance operations, spare parts printed with 3D printers on-demand, cargo moving on the road and sea without drivers, just to mention a few conservative scenarios.
If we compare what is possible and where we actually are today in the paper business, current operating models and business processes have never been further away from what would be possible if digital opportunities were fully exploited. If we built the paper industry from the scratch today, I believe it would look very different.
Does this mean that one day the paper industry will be something completely different from what it is today? Maybe, or maybe not: nobody knows yet. The technology is definitely ready to fundamentally change the way we work, but what about the other factors?
The evolution of our industry will probably be rather evolutionary and step-wise, but there are surely areas where we want to invest all possible efforts to exploit digital opportunities as fast as possible. These are related to customers and our internal efficiency.
We at UPM want to be efficient, easy and fast to deal with to our customers. When dealing with us, customers should experience not only product value but also maximal service value. The digital service channel provided by our Customer Online solution has been a key vehicle for improving customer value. We want to build and sustain strong customer relationships, and new digital technologies provide us with the best personal and digital service channels for doing this.
Internal efficiency is at the core of all UPM’s operations. From the corporate point of view, new digital technologies can shape our ways of working in a more efficient direction. We are the leading provider of graphic papers globally, and we wish to retain that position. We thus see digitalisation as offering us the tools to improve our operations in areas such as production and supply chain towards higher cost efficiency.
The paper industry can benefit a great deal from digitalisation. What comes around, goes around. The modern world relies on technology, so not utilising it today would end up harming us tomorrow.