Three Transformation Enablers at 3M: Data Analytics, Culture, and Prioritization

Author photo: Sharada Prahladrao
BySharada Prahladrao
Technology Trends

The second annual ARC Industrial Digital Transformation Top 25 report continues to highlight companies that are succeeding at integrating digital technology into all areas of business, fundamentally changing the way they operate and deliver value to customers. This year’s Top 25 companies include many who made the list last year, together with some new companies. Positions were reshuffled due to the changing business dynamics and weighting components of the analysis: financial indicators, transformation indicators, and collective community intelligence. Data analytics, culture, and prioritization are the three enablers driving a robust transformation effort within 3M and the company ranks #11 in this year’s report.

The last few years have been particularly challenging ones for industrial growth. We’ve been cornered from all sides: pandemics, political unrest, climate change, and macroeconomic uncertainty. The world as we knew it a few years ago has capsized and the boundaries of the new normal are constantly shifting and realigning. Digital transformation is now an imperative and digital transformation leaders can be found across many different industries, sharing common traits and visions, helping organizations overcome complex challenges to innovate and stay agile. Several key trends were identified in this report: importance of sustainability, actively seeking to scale solutions in multiple dimensions, benefits of focus and prioritization, empowering the operational front line, recognition that culture change is required, and active outreach to others.

ARC Advisory Group defines digital transformation as: “The integration of digital technology into all areas of business, fundamentally changing the way companies operate and deliver value to customers. The organization is typically charged to innovate and improve across multiple dimensions such as: digital/disruptive technologies, culture and leadership, operational agility, workforce engagement, customer experience, environmental, social and governance, and competitive performance.”

This is the eleventh in a series of blogs in the digital transformation space.


3M is a diverse company with a strong focus on innovation and a long history of scientific and technological achievements. The company has made considerable progress over the past year in Transformation Enablersbreaking down the silos between OT and IT. Together they have found ways to do more with less by integrating new technologies and processes on the production floor, resulting in measurable cost reductions. In 2021, leadership has made a $1 billion commitment to achieve carbon neutrality, reduce water use, improve water quality, and reduce use of plastics.

The company has four business groups, 22 operating divisions, 51 technology platforms and thousands of products sold in 200 countries. As part of internal operations, they have connected 240 plants, distribution centers and enabled capability to monitor the flow of products. The company used to operate autonomously in the local country subsidiary structure, but now their digital transformation efforts are driven more to alignment and standardization.

3M is utilizing several emerging technologies including artificial intelligence, Big Data and robotics, among others to streamline production, reduce costs, develop new products and services, and enhance supply chain efficiency. Data analytics, culture and prioritization are the three enablers driving a robust transformation effort within 3M.

Road Ahead

Digital transformation is a continuous journey and ARC will continue its research in all areas related to digital transformation. We want to learn more about what is working – and what isn’t – as companies pursue their unique digital transformation activities. A lot is happening both on the supplier and user sides, and we would like to know about the pitfalls and success stories. The  ARC Industrial Digital Transformation Top 25 report will be published on an annual basis. With this being our second year, your feedback is very important to us as we will continue to investigate new approaches and measures to adjust our methodology, identify successful digital transformation initiatives, and help the industry as a whole digitally transform. We are on this journey together!

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