Digital transformation success under Industry 4.0: A strategic guideline for manufacturing SMEs

Author Identifier

Mohammad Iranmanesh

ORCID : 0000-0001-6964-6238

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management




School of Business and Law




Ghobakhloo, M., & Iranmanesh, M. (2021). Digital transformation success under Industry 4.0: A strategic guideline for manufacturing SMEs. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 32(8), 1533-1556.. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMTM-11-2020-0455


Purpose The digital transformation under Industry 4.0 is complex and resource-intensive, making a strategic digitalization guideline vital to small and medium-sized enterprises' success in the Industry 4.0 transition. The present study aims to provide manufacturing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a guideline for digital transformation success under Industry 4.0. Design/methodology/approach The study first performed a content-centric literature review to identify digital transformation success determinants. The study further implemented interpretive structural modeling to extract the order at which the success determinants should be present to facilitate the SMEs’ digital transformation success optimally. The interpretive model and interpretive logic knowledge base matrix were also used for developing the digital transformation guideline. Findings Eleven success determinants are vital to SMEs’ digital transformation efforts. For example, results revealed that external support for digitalization is the first step in ensuring digital transformation success among SMEs, while operations technology readiness is the most inaccessible success determinant. Research limitations/implications The study highlights the degree of importance of the 11 success determinants identified, which magnifies each determinant's strategic priority based on its driving power and dependence power. Theorizing the dependent variable of “digital transformation success” and quantitatively measuring the extent to which each success determinant contributes to explaining “digital transformation success” offers an exciting opportunity for future research. Practical implications Digital transformation success phenomenon within the Industry 4.0 context is significantly different from the digitalization success concept within the traditional literature. The digital transformation under Industry 4.0 is immensely resource-intensive and complex. Smaller manufacturers must have specific capabilities such as change management and digitalization strategic planning capability to reach a certain degree of information, digital, operations and cyber maturity. Originality/value The digital transformation success guide developed in the study describes each success determinants' functionality in relation to other determinants and explains how they might contribute to the digital transformation success within the manufacturing sector. This guide enables smaller manufacturers to better understand the concept of manufacturing digital transformation under Industry 4.0 and devise robust strategies to steer their digital transformation process effectively.



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