I’ve written before about the value that the cloud and the IIoT are bringing to industrial companies right now. As transformative as current developments are, if anything I’m more excited about the future. This is why the next few posts will cover what comes next in digital transformation.
Today’s topic stems from a conversation I had with a colleague at our annual Sales and Marketing Conference. She asked me what the next big thing in digital transformation would be. I said that we’ve seen two stages of digital transformation, and are about to see the third. First was the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT was the digital transformation of physical equipment – assets such as pumps, air compressors and turbines. The second step was the digital transformation of processes, as companies digitized their operations, inventory management, asset management, and anything that had to do with how they did work.
So, what’s next? I believe the next step is digital transformation of people – the workforce and how we schedule, manage and perform work; how we train, operate and collaborate across traditional domains or organizational boundaries. What do I mean by that?
There are at least two main elements to the digital transformation of people. First, a culture of digital transformation, and second, people as points of digital transformation. To date the focus has been on the technology, but the true benefits will come when people have fully adopted these technologies into their work practices and decision making. The next transformation will come when they – staff, contractors, 3rd parties – have truly digested and institutionalized these new ways of operating. Companies who understand how to implement the digital transformation of people will be able to discover new efficiencies, unlock new business models and fundamentally change how they leverage their workforce both today and in to the future.
See how a cloud solution facilitates the digital transformation of people!
A Culture of Digital Transformation
Technology is a tool. It’s value is derived after it’s applied and returns are realized. It’s obvious but often forgotten. The tech itself also depends on the people who install, maintain and operate or use it. Similarly, truly instituting digital transformation requires more than purchasing a solution and installing it. It’s necessary that your employees be not only trained on how to use the system, but involved in the creation and definition of it; and about the value of lateral and outside-the-box thinking that often goes on in the real world. Breaking down the silos where the data is stored is critical, but it won’t do much good if your employees still think in silos.
Encourage a culture of inquisitiveness and exploration to drive employees to think outside traditional functions and their typical areas of focus (i.e. Maintenance teams considering operational implications; quality teams thinking about impact of production throughput). Build a holistic continuous improvement mindset and empower your staff to think about what’s good for the entire business – not just their patch of grass. This allows employees to fully take advantage of the opportunities digital transformation offers.
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People as Points of Digital Transformation
The second, and more interesting aspect, is people as points of digital transformation. The number of mobile devices globally has exploded. These devices become an extension of the workforce in many ways. Companies can leverage these mobile devices by taking advantage of mobile operator rounds to completely digitally transform how they do work. Cloud and mobile access capabilities also make it easy for employees to access valuable data wherever they are in the field, no matter what device they have. It also allows for information to be easily combined across sites, systems and sources. This makes it easy to perform process and production centerlining and improvements.
See the benefits of accessing your data anytime, anywhere from the cloud!
This range of mobile capabilities means that employees themselves are serving dual functions. They are both data collectors, and active participants. Going forward, integration with AR/MR technology as well as potential partnerships with social media providers will soon make it easier than ever for companies to map their assets almost entirely through their employees and their interactions. This second level of data will have a profound impact on companies, as this additional contextual data will provide valuable insight on operations, and the low cost of implementation means previously uncovered areas will have an influx of data.
The digital transformation of people will have a profound impact on operations in the future. Keep an eye on this space for future blog posts on what digital transformation of people means for businesses.