February 25, 2019
Find Hidden Synergy in Digital Transformation Projects
To maximize each project’s return on investment, make sure data doesn’t languish in departmental silos.
Digital transformation initiatives can make workers and processes much more efficient and productive. But are the actual initiatives as efficient and productive as they can be?
This isn’t a brain teaser. It’s about identifying ways to maximize each digital transformation project’s return on investment while minimizing its overhead costs.
Organizations often have multiple digital transformation projects running concurrently — and separately. So even when they have the IT department’s blessing and supervision, those projects exist in departmental fiefdoms. When digital transformation projects are managed separately, data can become siloed, and the organization could end up missing valuable opportunities for synergy. Although those initiatives might be successful on their own, they’re still not living up to their full potential in terms of organizationwide impact and savings.
Energy and Synergy
To understand how breaking down data silos can yield immense benefits, consider an organization that resides in a 15,000-square-foot office building. It’s probably spending about $30,000 annually on electricity and gas. Of that money, about 39 percent goes to lighting, while heating, ventilation and air conditioning take up another 28 percent.
To save money, the organization’s facilities department installs occupancy sensors, so lights and HVAC blowers automatically shut off in conference rooms when they’re not scheduled for meetings. This probably saves the organization 2 to 10 percent annually, although the Environmental Protection Agency says some organizations reduce energy consumption by as much as 60 percent through such efforts.
Saving money is great, but saving a lot more money is much better. For example, if the facilities team collaborated with other departments, such as the IT, audiovisual and security teams, which are responsible for a variety of systems such as videoconferencing, digital signage and video surveillance, the organization could then compare data from all these systems.
This would enable the organization’s leaders to more deeply understand room utilization. For example, the reservation system might show that most rooms are booked all day. But the occupancy sensors could reveal that half the time, they sit empty. Maybe it’s because participants chose to attend a meeting via a desktop videoconferencing system, or because the meeting was canceled.
Whatever the reason, the organization’s executives might conclude far fewer conference rooms are needed than originally estimated. Reducing the number of rooms saves not only on energy costs, but also on real estate, as well as AV equipment and services.
Smarter utilization of systems and data can achieve even greater efficiencies. For example, if the facilities team leverages the organization’s surveillance cameras and AV systems, it can gain an understanding of when people are in each room. This eliminates the need for — and expense of — installing occupancy sensors. Sharing data saves money that otherwise would be wasted when each department pursues digital transformation projects independently.
All Together Now
Those are just a few examples. My colleague, Chris Black, blogged about how municipalities and military bases are connecting their streetlights via mesh networks to maximize safety and energy savings. These mesh networks then enable additional digital transformation projects, such as pollution and parking sensors that can pinpoint locations for new garages or bus stops because too many vehicles are circling for too few spots.
These examples highlight why it’s crucial to select a partner that works with a wide variety of vendors and verticals. With those relationships and that experience, the partner can point to use cases and synergies that organizations frequently overlook. The ideal partner also can integrate disparate technologies from multiple vendors and then feed all their data into a platform, such as Cisco Systems’s Kinetic, that multiple departments can tap into to make smarter business decisions. In the end, everyone comes out ahead — and for a lot less money than if each department did everything on its own.