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Event summary produced by The Globe and Mail Events team. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

What opportunities and challenges do Canadian manufacturers face on the path to digital transformation? The Globe and Mail hosted a webcast on June 23 to bring manufacturers and technology experts together to discuss why and how industrial businesses might embrace digital tools such as artificial intelligence (A.I.) and automation.

Missed the live event or would like to view it again? Scroll down to the video player, below.

Rita Trichur, senior business writer and columnist with The Globe and Mail moderated the webcast, and opened with an interview with Christy Michalak, director of advanced manufacturing development programs with Next Generation Manufacturing (NGen), one of Canada’s innovation superclusters.

Ms. Michalak provided an overview of Industry 4.0 and discussed why technology adoption is so important to Canadian manufacturing competitiveness. She also provided strategies for manufacturers to get started with digital transformation and to access support and funding.

Following the interview Ms. Trichur moderated a panel of manufacturers and technology experts, who provided examples of digital transformation and discussed how to navigate common challenges such as knowing where to begin and tapping into skilled talent. The panel included the following speakers:

  • Peter Coffee, vice-president of strategic research with Salesforce. Mr. Coffee discussed how digital transformation is not about using technology to do the same activities faster or better; it’s about innovating products, services and customer experiences. He provided examples of manufacturers using digital transformation to open up new revenue streams and markets.
  • Marylin Ma, CEO of AIXEL. Ms. Ma is a tech entrepreneur focused on applying artificial intelligence in manufacturing, to optimize tasks such as product quality inspection in industries including food production. Using a ‘plug-and-play’ approach makes it less intimidating for manufacturers to decide to implement A.I., she said.
  • Irene Sterian, director of technology and innovation with Celestica; and president and CEO of REMAP Network. Ms. Sterian advised manufacturers who haven’t started with digital transformation to begin by putting sensors on equipment. She is also involved in the development of a standard for manufacturers to measure their progress with digital transformation.
  • Jason Falbo, chief technology officer with Mircom Group of Companies. Mr. Falbo works with a mid-sized manufacturing company that embarked on digital transformation following a cyberattack that took the business offline. He relayed how technology adoption has made the company more secure and created new revenue streams such as subscription and online services. Mircom has evolved from a supplier of hardware to a smart building company as a result of digital transformation, he said.

Event Playback | Manufacturing Disrupted: Embracing the digital imperative

The Globe and Mail presented the webcast with sponsor support from Salesforce.

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