Digital Transformation is the latest new term in the wake of Big Data, IoT, AR and Industry 4.0, but how much of it is actually new? We are only at the start of this evolution and there are going to be many new technology failures.

The key with this new technology wave is to navigate into the storm head on before the tsunami of new tech arrives and we are blindsided.

OT and IT Convergence

One thing remains constant amidst the change; OT partners can deliver the foundation technology stack and the customized solution to accelerate and de-risk this digital transformation journey. And journey it is, as this is not a new this is Business Process Reengineering (BPR) spoken of 2 decades ago but now the technology has finally caught up with the ideas.

OT and IT Convergence as a theme has dissipated by the emergence of specific business solutions that demand this integrated approach anyway. In some respects, new applications are being developed which bridge between IT/OT without consideration of the traditional separation of business systems.

Automation Alley Industry 4.0 Report (Finding 5 of 5): “Don’t underestimate the “people factor.” This will be your greatest asset as well as your greatest hindrance to success.

Change management isn’t a commissioning activity, it starts right from the beginning for any project. There are promoters and detractors in every organisation including the service provider and end user. Begin early with the people factor helps create certainty around how the business is going to change, who is the champion and when activities are due to be completed. Technology projects always have hiccups, so planning for that and planning who is going to manage the hiccups is key to have a the right posture which caters for products updating mid stream or not working just as the glossy brochure said they would.

Change Management is Key to appropriate selection and configuration of new Apps.

Change Management is particularly important with Digital Transformation because the organisation footprint is much wider than the traditional OT user group. Requirements management, training people, and helping stakeholders understand impacts on existing methodologies are all important to the whole of business.  Some people get excited and want more and more too fast! Even running too fast can empty an organisation of its energy reserves required for they home straight.

Industry 4.0, Big Data and Analytics, IoT and AI are changing business performance. Companies are developing new mindsets in terms of data, knowledge, product lifecycle, business lifecycle and go to market strategies, just to name a few. The use of IIoT’s connectedness as a technology is so enormous that businesses are having a hard time assessing its impact on their decision-making process and still working out new ways to view, consume and sell or value their data.

Technology solutions are increasingly complex and there is a sense of having to read the fine print. Even for those who do this every day, it requires complete commitment to learning technology and staying current.

History Never Repeats?

20 years ago the big drive was to unify disparate systems. Many vendors have during this time offer their agnositic solution, one brand and less issue approach. This very valid solution concept has worked for many large organisations but does not suit everyone. IIoT and the clould have challenged some of these fundamental proprietary interconnectivity models. Today we are seeing organisation incorporating modern and more open standard interfaces. Keeping in mind that this big end and total enterprise wide model is not the agile approach many are taking with IIoT. Trials and testing specific stand alone applications are common practice now as organisations grapple with how to get started with “digitisation”. Without realising it, if we do not consider these silo projects and how they are to roll into the enterprise fully at some point, we are inadvertently rolling out disparate systems using standalone IoT solutions. In some ways we are leaping forward on the domestic front where we don’t care if we have 20 applications to run our home entertainment needs, but creating some new problems to solve on the commercial front by creating islands of disparate technologies. With the threat of less skilled people available who can truly architect enterprise solutions, we should be more cautious today about repeating what we did 20 years ago and spent a decade undoing.

Most certainly we have the technology to do just about anything in terms of business process reengineering, what we also desperately need is a way to have people a part of this in such a way that the solutions are for the greater good of the entire organisation and are not “uninstalled” as quickly as the App advocates change jobs. Not wanting this to be a negative statement, the real point is Applications have a much shorter lifecycle and that should be planned for. Subscription supports more frequent application churn and less dependency on single vendors, however IT and engineering costs remain unchanged. There is a risk that for business applications this high IT and engineering cost can be repeated more often if the technology is recycled with every great new idea is presented to the market place. At the end of the day, it is still about empowering people to enjoy performing their roles. We appear to have reached appoint where technology is cool, not something to be afraid of and now more informed decisions are being made using real time intelligence that can be relied upon with confidence. Digital Transformation occurs for organisations who connect people with technology with the bigger picture in mind.