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Don’t delay digital. To solve today’s challenges, industrial companies need a new set of skills. 

Gone are the days when industrial companies could rely purely on engineering skills. 

Today, they also need teams with digital skills to solve complex challenges — not just during the manufacturing process, but across the design and service stages of their business. 

To help understand which skills you should focus on, and the tangible impact they’ll have, we sat down with Hervé Garnousset, Expleo’s Chief Technology Officer.   

Read on to learn about the digital skills manufacturers often struggle with, how Expleo’s training can help, the critical skills to focus on in the next ten years, and more.  

view of a city

What digital skills are your customers most struggling with right now? And how could that create problems in their organisation?

One example that comes to mind is DevOps. This is basically an agile approach to software development that combines development (Dev) with operations (Ops). 

The value of this approach is it allows companies to test, iterate, and get products to market faster. From experience, a lot of companies don’t have this capability and depend on traditional, linear software development, which is much slower.  

Companies also have vast amounts of operational data available to them. But commonly find it hard to extract (and share) meaningful insights from that information across their business. Often, that’s because they lack expertise in areas such as data management and AI. 

Cybersecurity is also a big digital skill many organisations struggle with. That’s a major problem given how cyber-attacks are becoming more frequent and sophisticated.

Can you give an example of how Expleo’s expertise has helped an organisation solve a problem that was holding them back?

We recently worked with a car manufacturer that was struggling with their Order-to-Delivery process. Once a car had been produced, they were manually checking it against the customer order to make sure there were no discrepancies — and carrying out various compliance checks too. 

This process took around five minutes per vehicle, so it was pretty time-consuming. 

To help with that, we developed an application that uses cameras to take images of every vehicle at the end of their production line. So now, using AI-based visual inspection approaches, a process that took five minutes takes just a few seconds.  

We know Expleo has an academy that offers digital training. Can you tell us why it was initially created and how it’s helped your customers?

The Expleo Academy was launched back in 1986 to train our own people, but we quickly expanded it to support our customers. Today, we have around 16,000 courses — and we place a lot of emphasis on delivering digital skills to engineering teams in areas like data, security, and software development. 

To illustrate how our training can be beneficial, we’ve been running quality inspection training for a customer. We’ve been teaching their staff and providers on how to run precise and compliant quality inspections on their assembly lines. Without the right skills, that was obviously something they were struggling with. 

The training we’ve delivered has made a real difference to this process. So much so, that the customer has since asked us to define the training programme for the rest of their employees. 

You employ a lot of digital experts straight out of academia. And then give them the engineering skills they need. What’s the thinking behind this recruitment approach, and how does it benefit your customers?

At the moment, we’re hiring a lot of mathematicians and people from computer science backgrounds, right up to PhD level. Their skill sets are now particularly valuable to help with the rising complexity of AI, which is playing an increasingly central role in our customers’ operations.  

The truth is, our customers need to overcome a lot of complex technical challenges. And that requires having a diverse set of skills in their business. They need technologists with digital agility, and also people grounded in business operations. But more than that, these different teams need to understand each other’s world, so they can work together. 

That’s where our training is helpful. By training people from business to technology, and technology to business, we can help organisations build strong cross-functional teams that are more collaborative and able to find solutions to problems faster.

What digital skills should manufacturers prioritise in the next ten years? And what are the risks of not investing in these areas now?

As I mentioned earlier, cybersecurity skills will be key. In the past, cyber-attacks were mainly targeted at IT systems. But as organisations build more connected, software-driven environments, their OT systems will also become vulnerable.  

AI is also something our customers need to prepare for, because it’s going to drastically change how things are done today.  

For instance, jobs that are done manually across the industrial value chain, such as validation, compliance, and aftersales, they’ll all be automated thanks to next-generation AIs. And this is a trend that will accelerate quicker than many people expect. 

Our customers need to train their personnel in this technology to avoid falling behind — and to ensure they can collect, catalogue, and share valuable data across their organisation. 

Equip your teams with the skills they need now.

At Expleo, we’ve combined our long-standing engineering heritage with unrivalled digital recruitment and training. And that means our Digital Engineers have the skills needed to solve the specific challenges you’re facing right now. 

With our Expleo Academy, we can also embed in-demand digital skills across your organisation, empowering your people to deliver long-lasting change.  

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