Demystifying Digital Transformation

Digital TransformationDigital transformation can have a profound impact on business performance but knowing which technology investments will truly move the needle isn’t always easy for companies. In fact, when it comes to implementing digital transformation projects, manufacturers and producers across industries are feeling a lot of uncertainty and anxiety – and it’s not entirely unfounded. Consider that less than 30% of digital transformation efforts are succeeding, according to research by McKinsey. What’s more, only 16% of respondents said their organizations’ digital transformation initiatives have successfully improved performance while equipping them to sustain changes in the long term. This isn’t how digital transformation is supposed to work. Part of the issue is that many companies lack a focused plan for their digital transformation initiatives. Research shows that while 90% of companies recognize the need for a clearly defined roadmap, only 20% have one in place. And without a plan to translate vision into reality, digital transformation efforts can stagnate, if not outright fail. Research by Gartner indicates that through 2021, digital transformation initiatives, on average, are expected to take large traditional enterprises twice as long and cost twice as much as anticipated.  

Compounding the problem, new Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions seem to hit the market every day with bigger, bolder claims being made by an increasing number of vendors – but with little support for those claims in the form of real customer examples with quantified results. For manufacturers and producers looking to find practical solutions, it’s just more noise and more uncertainty. 

Digital transformation doesn’t have to be complex. The right approach can ensure technology investments deliver the results that matter with confidence, ease and speed. How can you be sure you’re avoiding the hype around digital transformation and making sound technology investments that truly move the needle?  

There are four basic tenets of an approach that can help you confidently determine what technology investments to make, easily implement targeted solutions, and quickly get results from those solutions. 

  1. Start with a goal in mind – Start by identifying your most pressing operational challenges; those areas that are well recognized as opportunities for improvement and where there will likely be a quick return on investment. By contrast, do not start with a list of IIoT technologies to apply, in the hope that your operations teams will find something useful to do with them. Focus on the many familiar but nagging operational issues that rob operational performance. Determine your specific problem areas and then apply proven, scalable and secure IIoT solutions that will directly address those issues. This ensures the solutions you implement are directly linked to the outcomes you want to achieve. 
  2. Get the most from your data – Before you can take the actions that drive improvement, you need the right data, and you need to make sense of it. Most companies already generate lots of data, but there are usually important gaps as well.  Easy-to-install, cost-effective sensors can supplement existing measurement technologies to capture data that will serve as the basis for new insights. You’ll want to apply the appropriate level of operational analytics – intuitive, user-friendly software with embedded domain expertise that can quickly analyze data and provide actionable recommendations. Avoid generic analytics tools and instead deploy solutions that are designed to directly address your challenges.  
  3. Empower your people – IIoT technologies can dramatically change work practices for the better, but if these practices aren’t embraced and adopted by your personnel, success is unlikely to happen. The key here is empowering each worker to do their jobs more effectively. This is accomplished with technologies and services that help personnel shift from routine activities like data collection to more value-added activities based on collaboration and business-critical decision-making. Digital transformation empowers personnel across the organization to optimize performance. 
  4. Multiply your successes – Applying proven solutions to specific problems can result in immediate benefits, and it’s an effective way to start your digital transformation journey, but once you’ve demonstrated success and seen ROI for a given project, think bigger. Greater gains come from scaling a proven success across your facility or across the whole enterprise.  

Learn Emerson’s approach to digital transformation that can help you achieve real, measurable results and avoid common missteps in this on-demand webinar Digital Transformation: Delivering Results with Confidence, Ease and Speed – featuring Emerson CTO Peter Zornio and President of Operational Certainty Solutions Nathan Pettus.