Manufacturers favor digital workplace transformation—a reader responds

November 22, 2017 - 01:15pm
Manufacturers favor digital workplace transformation—a reader responds
Digital workplace transformation rebuttal

My Nov. 20 blog post titled "Manufacturers favor a digital workplace transformation but hold tight to their wallets" generated an insightful response from Jesse Z. Melton, owner of Harpers Ferry Toolworks, who commented:

The digital workplace transformation article is in dire need of another perspective, at the least. I would go so far as to say the article and white paper deserves a full-blown rebuttal.

I came out of the enterprise technology sector and I think Dan Chalk from NTT Data Services probably did too, but somehow managed to jump forward in time and missed everything since 2003. That's not a random date. That's the beginning of the last great Paperless Office Era.

My monthly print edition of CTE is a pretty solid indicator that the paperless office remains a mythical land that even the biggest champions of the idea never reached, regardless of the budget percentages they burned on that altar. If I still had a Jazz drive, I would dig up the PowerPoint files that Dan Chalk clearly still has access to. Specifically, those from Xerox and Adobe, which were entirely indistinguishable from the white paper from NTT.

Timelines based on fixed percentages were another central element in the paperless office transition. Even back then we knew that was a silly concept. It was a Gartneresque chunk of gibberish, but the industry went along with it because it was aimed at the venture capital sector, which had universally cold feet after the billions driven away in Webvan and shipped out by

The guy who mentored me in bigger business had this great comment that I still hold as a core part of my business philosophy. "People use percentages to hide things and solid numbers when they want to impress." This article is built entirely on Chalk's percentages, which serve to add a greasy shine to the same "less-than-optimal" shiny objects he decries in others.

What he's pushing is a group of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) concepts proven fundamentally flawed nearly two decades ago. Just because manufacturing is slow to adopt new technologies doesn't mean manufacturers have to suffer through the same bloody and expensive lessons that cost other industries billions. The lessons have already been bought and paid for and are publicly available. Manufacturing just has to take the time to look at them.

Related Glossary Terms

  • land


    Part of the tool body that remains after the flutes are cut.



Alan holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Including his 20 years at CTE, Alan has more than 30 years of trade journalism experience.


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