3 Key Findings on How Industries Utilize Digitalization

What is the value that technology brings to you and your organization, and how do you measure the success of investing in these technologies? As the leader of EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS, this is one of the most important discussions I can have with customers. Understanding digital transformation—its value-add and promise of energy efficiency—is imperative when an organization considers its stake in future technology investments. And for many industries, technical capabilities and operations were put to the test by the Covid-19 pandemic. The impact was resounding. It was another reminder that, as executive leaders, I feel we must always have our finger on the pulse. What are our options, and how will we choose the right one? What do we have to gain by enabling distributed control system (DCS) technologies?

To get an objective answer to those questions, Schneider Electric recently commissioned independent research firm Omdia to survey today’s digital transformation landscape, also known as digitalization.

Omdia’s analysts surveyed 250 participants globally. Comprised of IT, operational, and corporate managers, respondents made up a range of segments, including water and wastewater, energies and chemicals, refining, pulp and paper, and power generation. Additionally, those surveyed had a wide range of company sizes from<1,000 to >100,000.

Of those surveyed, 94 percent felt that their operations would be positively impacted by digitalization two or three years after making the transformation. Over half of those leaders expect the impact to be considerable.

During the pandemic, many companies that underwent some form of digital transformation managed to introduce remote monitoring and operations while legacy systems were put to the test. With a greater sense of data-driven operational efficiency in place, such early adopters could maintain performance metrics in those challenging first two years of the pandemic. Fortunately, the survey also revealed that underprepared companies have since taken a deeper dive into the value-add solutions that digital transformation offers, investing in the lifecycle of their facilities.

3 Takeaways from an Industry-driven Survey

The Covid-19 pandemic gave to a quick rise in companies scaling digitalization. Over 50 percent of survey respondents mentioned deploying digitalization as a cost management driver across multiple facilities, while 25 percent had done so in at least one facility. Many expect their investment in digitalization will begin to significantly impact their operations within a couple of years.

The study also showed an increase in digitalization across the supply chain to gain a competitive edge while enabling a more responsive system to demand fluctuations and supply chain disruptions.

The Omdia study made it clear that this is a very exciting time for building future-proof solutions. Here are three other key takeaways from the survey worth considering for your own organization:

1. Opportunity vs. Capability

There is a strong acceptance among organizations that digital transformation is required for their industrial enterprise. However, there is a hesitancy to make step-change improvements, to technologies such as a distributed control system, due to cost and opportunity lost during the transition.

Schneider Electric is fully equipped to support organizations through their digital transformation journey. From training services to migration roadmap sessions, we help manage the design and implementation of solutions that reduce the disruption to operations and minimize downtime resulting in the least operational and financial impact.

2. Criticality of Working Cross-Department

Many leaders worry that by adopting new digital tools, they will jeopardize veteran staff. Additionally, uncertainty arises around the different role responsibilities in the core function of the digitalization rollout.

People are your number one asset. Communication is key in establishing clear ownership and avoiding combative duplication of effort or misalignment. Schneider Electric helps establish a shared business model and digital training to result in effective productivity and prompt leaders to drive the reorganizational shift with their existing core teams.

3. Vendor Confidence and Expectations

Industrial customers show a clear understanding of what they need from control system vendors, like interoperability, but come at it from different perspectives of deploying digitalization. Some take a traditional systems approach versus one more aligned to step-change, future-proof solutions.

Our experts come from various fields and have a firm understanding of which fundamental solutions are required. Entering the world of vendor-agnostic solutions can feel like a large undertaking, but we remove complexities and provide innovative technologies to modernize your legacy control systems. We work closely with our customers to co-innovate the DCS technologies of the future.

Future-Proofed Systems

These are exciting times. Digital transformation is rapidly being seen for its true potential: the ability for organizations to simultaneously optimize their energy efficiency while improving operational performance and profits.

Cost management aside, digitalization is critical to driving business strategy and innovation. We have seen how distributed control systems help businesses achieve their initiatives, and this recent survey, which I encourage you to read at your leisure, is a good indication of where the DCS technologies of the future are heading.

Feel free to continue the conversation with your Schneider Electric representative, and keep an eye out for my next blog in this series about digital transformation readiness.

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