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Smart *—How will this tuxedo look while I do the worm?

March 7, 2023
Pushing the boundaries of digitalization.

To listen to this episode of the Remaking Industry podcast, click here. 


The breadth of topics that make up the concept of digitalization is astounding.

We recently ran a Smart Industry feature about using artificial intelligence to bargain shop for manufacturing supplies. Clipping coupons is going high-tech.  

We have explored the tax ramifications of automation initiatives, smart controls for cow-milking carousels, and how COVID proved to be a boon for small-town airports.

We regularly run interesting features on educational programs for the modern manufacturing worker, particularly since so many industrial executives bemoan the loss of skilled labor. A few have admitted that their factory workers, once properly trained on cutting-edge technologies, abandon manufacturing altogether for roles at tech companies. “Thanks for the training. I quit!”   

So what does this all mean?

Well, this trend—whether you call it Industry 4.0 or digital transformation or digitalization or whatever—is multifaceted. It contains multitudes, to paraphrase Walt Whitman completely out of context. And this digitally driven trend constantly evolves, deepens, snowballs in complexity just as its solutions and tools become simpler and more mainstreamed. Heck…calling it a trend is probably dismissive.

Personally, I love the diversity of ideas in this space. It keeps my work interesting. I marvel at the novel applications and digital solutions that emerge on a daily basis—these disparate solutions and the process optimizations they create spotlight the benefits of Industry 4.0 and are cause for optimism about the future of industry. This is a deep pool and more swimmers dive in every day.  

That said, I regularly receive pitches for story ideas that exist outside of our wide area of focus. Just today I was pitched an article about how China’s aggression in Taiwan might affect infrastructure security here in the US. Interesting, for sure, but not the right fit.

Another publicist’s pitch was for a story about how Men’s Wearhouse is partnering with a company called Snap's Magic Mirror to provide shoppers with an interactive and innovative formal-wear-browsing experience featuring something called Try-on Technology. “Powered by industry-leading AR Image technology, the apparel try-on solution repurposes existing product photography to render a try-on experience that visually moves on the customer to give them the feeling that the experience is realistic and personalized.”

First: I love the phrase “apparel try-on solution.” Kudos to the marketing rep who came up with that doozy.

Second: I respect that the “try-on experience” enables the virtual clothes to virtually move with the potential wearer, simulating how that baby-blue tuxedo will look while the prom-goer performs the worm across the dancefloor in the gymnasium.

Digital transformation has come of age, it seems.

I passed on both of these pitches—the China aggression piece is too speculative and the AR tuxedo piece is too silly. But story ideas like this highlight how vast and varied the concept of digitalization really is, particularly in this era of transformation.

Back when I was prepping for my prom in the early 90s, Taiwan sovereignty wasn’t making headlines, I had to try on my tuxedo in front of an analog mirror, and had you asked me what digitalization meant, I’d have thought it was some new break-dance move I’d be seeing at the dance that night.

Chris McNamara, Smart Industry editor in chief 

*To listen to this episode of the Remaking Industry podcast, click here.