With digital transformation of people established as the next big thing, the question is, what will the implications be for businesses? There are two main impacts that I see coming from the digital transformation of people. The first entails how companies reduce risk and prevent losses – defense. The second covers how companies can use digital transformation of people to improve their efficiency and improve operations – offense.
This blog will cover the first aspect. Industrial companies must handle a variety of risk, from cybersecurity, to asset failure, environmental risk, financial risk and safety risks. Digital transformation of people provides the expertise and the data to tackle and defend these challenges.
The first main implication is that cybersecurity becomes an even greater challenge that must be actively met with the digital transformation of people. Traditionally, the main targets for unauthorized access were systems, or products. Now, while systems and products are definitely targeted, cybersecurity practices have improved such that it is relatively difficult for criminals and unauthorized users to access these systems. It’s much simpler now to target the people involved in the system. It doesn’t matter how strong your firewall is if an employee simply puts an unidentified USB stick into their computer.
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Some of the most high-profile breaches have occurred not from a complex hack, but through targeting the people involved. John Podesta, manager of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, clicked on a phishing email, which allowed a hacker to breach security. A similar risk is present for every employee at an industrial organization. Malicious actors could be as varied as criminals, unscrupulous competitors or foreign agents.
The digital transformation of people means that there will be more potential points of entry – mobile devices, wearables, laptops, etc – but also a newly sophisticated workforce. Thorough education of the workforce will help to establish cybersecurity best practices – such as not storing passwords on Post-it notes on computer screens – making it more difficult for unauthorized users to target employees. On the solutions side, expect to see secure-by-design and open solutions becoming the norm – with the digital transformation of people, cybersecurity is as foundational now as basic operational safety.
The amount of data provided by the digital transformation of people will provide a huge boost to operators’ real-time visibility. This information, properly contextualized, will give operators more information about the operational state of their assets. Providing more data for advanced analytics such as predictive maintenance and condition-based maintenance systems to analyze, and thereby increasing the accuracy of these systems. By doing so, digital transformation of people reduces the risk of asset failure, operational failure and process failure. In turn, the reduced risk here means that financial risk, regulatory risk and safety risk are also reduced. More information, read more accurately, makes it possible to reduce risk.
Digital transformation of people will dramatically help companies improve their cybersecurity and reduce the risk of failure. My next blog post will cover how digital transformation of people helps improve efficiencies and create new opportunities.