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Gartner’s View on the Connected Worker

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In Gartner’s most recent analysis of the digitization of manufacturing and then analysis of the evolution of the connected worker, Simon Jacobson and Dana Stiffler take a close look at the current trends and what is working for industry leaders. Here are some excerpts, please contact Gartner for a copy of the full report.

Intensified digitization and a manufacturing workforce struggling to adapt to new ways of working is a recipe for variability. This research helps supply chain and manufacturing operations leaders balance technology and workforce development when cultivating future factory workforces.

Key Findings

  • Digitization in factories is intensifying while operational know-how fades. This creates challenges for factory workers to embed new technologies into their daily work, impacting their daily experience and output, and creates challenges for manufacturers as people are critical to overall digital transformation in manufacturing operations.
  • Connected factory workers leverage various digital tools and data management techniques to improve and integrate their interactions with both physical and virtual surroundings while improving decision accuracy, proliferating knowledge and lessening variability.
  • A nascent market of platform and niche providers offering various technologies provides sample options for manufacturers but also raises concerns for uncoordinated, shadow and defensive technology acquisition. The risks are redundant functionality, unproven technologies and high integration costs.
  • Early connected factory worker successes are rooted in operational excellence and flexibility. More substantial benefits will appear when initiatives are part of a formal workforce development program aimed at nurturing a data-driven workforce capable of working collaboratively in and across sites and ecosystems.


  • Make your focus the creation of a“data-driven” culture in manufacturing operations by diligently avoiding scenarios where employee creativity and ingenuity are stifled.
  • Strike a balance between digital enablement and cultivating future competencies by framing your initiative as part of a broader manufacturing workforce development program.
  • Garner buy-in and eliminate bias by taking a “how to improve a day in the life” approach which involves and engages factory workers and creates pull from other sites.
  • Meet the diversity of skills, roles and jobs needed by developing a broad array of use cases anchored by standard work. This lays the foundation for automating non-value-added tasks and enabling data and tools to improve decision-making.

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