As mentioned in my previous blog IT/OT Convergence Part 2, the journey towards realizing the benefits of the connected enterprise is a complex one. The first step is adopting and implementing open IT standards throughout the enterprise from the top floor to the shop floor to increase connectivity and interoperability. But there is a lot more to do to ensure the transformation from a connected enterprise to the productive, profitable and sustainable enterprise. There are many intermediate steps that organizations must pass through along this transformation process. I have summarized this process in the diagram below.
One of the key transformations that an organization must undertake is the leap from the connected enterprise to the intelligent enterprise. This journey involves turning the vast amounts of data available from the connected enterprise into useable information and consequently into knowledge, awareness, insight and ultimately intelligence. This journey requires the enterprise to undertake both a technical and cultural transformation.
Technical transformation involves the implementation of the right tools and applications that can deliver the results required and will impact all levels of the enterprise from process control systems, operations and supply chain management through to enterprise systems. For many this may represent a significant change from what currently exists in the organization.
One of the first significant challenges for the technical transformation comes from having to manage large volumes of both structured and unstructured data from the many different data sources across the enterprise. A lot of companies are turning to cloud based solutions to manage this situation. The cloud offers a way for companies to store large volumes of data which is readily accessible as required. This leads to the next significant challenges for the technical transformation – how to use the data.
Simply collecting vast amounts of data won’t enable companies to move from the connected enterprise to the intelligent enterprise. Companies need to analyze the data they have in order to create the insight and knowledge about their operations. There are many different ways to analyze data and no single technique will deliver all of the results. Therefore, as part of the technical transformation, companies need to establish or expand the team of people whose job is to analyze the data in conjunction with company objectives, market conditions etc, to develop the insight and knowledge required by others in order to help them make the best decisions. This crosses over with the other major company transformation – cultural transformation.
Cultural transformation is equally important as technical transformation in the move from the connected enterprise to the intelligent enterprise as significant organizational changes will be required to ensure successful outcomes. As just mentioned, the establishment or expansion of new roles and departments is required. These new additions can be seen as fanciful and not essential to the traditional way of running the company. As such, significant work needs to be undertaken to blend the Big Data strategy into the cultural fabric of the organization. This begins by ensuring that not only do senior management support the strategy but are consistently talking about it as part of their regular company communications. Following on from this, the use of the Big Strategy needs to become part of how people undertake their daily roles. If it is left to one side as an additional tool, chances are that most people will not change from how they do things today. Many people will view this new system as another way for management to judge their performance and not as a tool to help them succeed. Therefore the organization needs to reduce the potential resistance by using communication and training strategies as well as looking to modify KPI’s and objectives to ensure that individuals, teams or departments fully engage the use of the Big Data strategy as part of their normal operations.
Significant transformational change is required in order for companies to move from the connected enterprise to the intelligent enterprise. As mentioned these transformations occur not only with technology but also with company culture. Blending these two together isn’t easy and there will be setbacks along the way however the results generated from the Big Data strategy will be worth the effort and help organizations to become productive, sustainable and profitable enterprises.