The Need to Achieve Quick Wins with Digital Transformation
Organizations should approach the adoption of transformative technologies with a simple mantra in mind: Think big, act small, move fast.
- by Calvin Hennick
- Business and technology journalist | October 22, 2018
Digital transformation is on the radar for nearly every organization in every industry. Business leaders see the adoption of transformative technologies as a key element to support their effectiveness and competitiveness in the future. But many organizations are still in the earliest stages of their digital transformation efforts, and some leaders struggle to even define the term itself.
Digital transformation should be thought of as a journey, rather than a destination. Before an organization can begin its digital transformation, it must establish the goals it hopes to achieve through the process, and then build a strategy to achieve those goals. One helpful mantra for organizations pursuing digital transformation is: Think big, act small, move fast. Thinking big means setting a long-term vision for achieving ambitious goals. Moving fast entails building upon lessons from early efforts to tackle progressively larger and more transformative projects that will fulfill the think-big strategic vision.
But everything starts with acting small: taking manageable, concrete steps to put modernization into action — often through the implementation of proven technologies that will help reduce the perceived risk of digital transformation for skeptical internal stakeholders. It’s critical that these initial, small steps help an organization achieve concrete, measurable business value. Then, with these quick wins in hand, business and IT leaders can rally their organization around continued transformation efforts.
These real-world examples help to illustrate how organizations can take relatively small — and safe — steps to set their digital transformation efforts on the right track.
Making Time Work for Manufacturing
The maxim time is money may be truer in manufacturing than in any other industry. For example, a single hour of unexpected downtime can cost an auto manufacturer $1.3 million in production losses. And if unexpected downtime is a chronic problem, the losses can be even larger, as unreliable productivity can lead to clients taking their business elsewhere. IoT can maximize uptime by catching hidden problems before they result in equipment failure, helping to keep factories humming.
A typical system puts IoT sensors on equipment to measure such things as voltage fluctuations, temperature, vibration and other factors. This data is then fed into a platform for real-time monitoring and analytics. In addition to providing real-time alerts, IoT can help manufacturing companies build a historical database that shows which pumps, motors and other equipment are highly reliable, and which are prone to breakdowns — information that helps companies make decisions about future purchases. Energy monitoring is another area where IoT investments can pay rapid dividends for manufacturers.
Competitive Advantages for Retail
Brick-and-mortar stores must deliver a superior customer experience to compete with online retailers that offer one-click shopping, often at lower prices. One of their main competitive advantages is their staff, who can answer questions and offer opinions for shoppers. Many stores are improving the efficiency of their floor employees by equipping them with mobile devices that provide product and inventory information and often tie into point-of-sale systems.
Stores are using IoT technologies to improve their inventory management — an investment that can prevent lost sales and unhappy customers due to stock shortages. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, 41 percent of shoppers want stores to provide interactive shelves that give product information, and 36 percent are interested in in-store tablets that show a larger offering of products to purchase.
Revving Up the Energy Industry
Gas, oil and utility companies are using data in new ways to improve decision-making, as well as to simplify reporting and other tasks. For instance, the North Dakota energy supplier Basin Electric Power Cooperative is automating its reporting processes with IBM Cognos solutions, resulting in 85 percent time savings and allowing staff to focus on critical activities. Houston-based CenterPoint Energy utilizes HPE technology to support its smart grid, which allows the organization to read power meters remotely and analyze the data to prevent and respond to outages.
The use cases for different digital transformation projects vary widely from industry to industry. Some use cases, such as location tracking or smart buildings, have the potential to span many industries. But, for many organizations in different sectors, early digital transformation efforts have one essential element in common: They’re able to provide tangible value today.
To learn more about the important steps your organization should take to put its digital transformation plans into action, read the CDW white paper “How to Accelerate Digital Transformation.”