Digital transformation is ultimately about culture

Strategy and Digital Transformation
January 31, 2017
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If you as a talented executive find your head spinning with hundreds of options to digitize your operations, here is a pointer. A decade ago, popularized technology innovation migrated from redesigning salt shakers and door handles to tackling the industrial world. Along the way, autonomous vehicles, knowledge hubs and collaboration centers entered our work space and occupied much of our thinking time. That was a decade ago.

On the other side of this story is the future made up of artificial intelligence, machine learning with real time information piped from our cloud based data lakes in an all-harmonious, well aligned system that gives us friction-free automated production outcomes. Today, we are somewhere between these two points in time – and we could rightfully ask, “where is that?”

The roadmap to a fully digitized operation consists of a fundamental change in the culture and operating model of the company. It is not about acquiring the latest technology – although Wi-Fi, sensors, mobile, data visualization and collaboration centers are key ingredients (as well as perhaps cloud and data lakes.) In referring to culture, we mean “the way we do things here.” Adapting your company’s culture to the new digital reality is therefore an imperative.

To make digitization work in your operation, we revert to the fundamentals of work execution. Production is a function of People, Process and Technology – get these right and the operation can change with clarity and purpose. Miss one of the components, and management soon leans harder on their technology team to produce more (unachievable) magic.

In a digital operation, people behave differently and they follow different business processes. If they do not, all the technology introduced cannot deliver the sought-after safety, production and financial benefits. Perhaps the toughest maze to navigate in this new digital operating environment is the redefinition of decision rights. With an ever- increasing amount of production data being available to all, many traditional decisions and decision rights fade away. We believe that a keener eye on the work behaviors and active decisions that are made during a production shift will clarify much of what we must redefine to rapidly digitize operations.