Importance of a Digital Transformation strategy

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Written by
Michael Bird

Research from IDC states that ‘‘The demand for Digital Transformation is coming from customers and without responding to these demands you are in danger of starting to suffer financially and lose market share.’’

We have been using digital transformation in our businesses for decades whether it is using Microsoft word instead of pen and paper or replacing drawing boards with 2D or 3D software. One difference between then and now is that they predominately pointed solutions whereas now we have technology that can genuinely digitally transform your business by harnessing the data you already have.

Disconnected silos of data

Over several years most businesses build up numerous data silos whether they are financial databases and spreadsheets, manufacturing systems, MES, ERP, CRM etc. etc. Hopefully, the very valuable data in these silos are being generated by software applications that are specifically designed for the job at hand, but they are almost always islands of information crying out to be integrated into other areas of the business.

Don’t replace – Transform (Digital Transformation)

This data is the “right data” but it is not connected to the business efficiently. How many times have you wanted a financial report or information on manufacturing performance or levels of compliance… the list is endless. All the information is there somewhere but a huge amount of time is wasted gathering it together from numerous different sources. This is where consultants often recommend replacing different data authoring applications with new more functional ones. Nine times out of ten “more functionality” is not what is required. What IS required is allowing the business to use the data it has but take away the often complex authoring layer from the data consumer.

How to transform Digital Transformation?

This is often the toughest part, the first thing that you have to be is committed to digitally transforming your business as you will need to define the areas where the best improvements can be made and empower team members to ensure things get done. Once you have made the decision to transform you will need the tools to do so and this is where PTC Thingworx comes in, this IIoT platform can deliver a consistent easy-to-use “user interface” to any of your existing data. The ability to be able to construct a “mash-up (web page or application created by combining data or functionality from different sources.) containing data potentially from your ERP system, your Accounts package, your MES or a homegrown database or spreadsheet and not only display the information but use AI techniques to analyses this data and if required to write back into the original systems. All this can be done without the need to be able to use the original sometimes complex authoring packages that were used to create the data in the first place.

Do even more with what you have!

Now that you have uniform access to the department’s data within the business you can really start to use this data to understand your business even better. Previously the links between ERP, MES, and CRM, etc were cumbersome and difficult to maintain now with direct “live” access to the sources of information you can use AI techniques to predict failures and trends in the business.

Cost of Digital Transformation!

Many companies have felt the pain and cost of implementing business systems such as ERP and PLM etc. These are of course complex systems that help to drive the business forward by improving efficiency and as a lot of hard work has been done by implementing the numerous business systems already in place the cost of Digitally Transforming your business using ThingWorx is astonishingly cost-effective. Just pick several areas where it is just difficult and time-consuming to access data and within a matter of a few weeks, a solution can be in place. This can then act as a platform for continued transformation.

What’s next?

The scenario I have described here is the quickest and most cost-effective way of digitally transforming your business. This approach is taking advantage of what is known as SCO (Smart Connected Operations) – ” monitoring of a number of typically heterogeneous connected items to improve operations of the business”.

Another route to digital transformation is SCP (Smart Connected Products) – ” monitoring of products after they have been produced, sold and is now out “in-the-field”, typically being used by their customers.” this will require a little more thought to ensure your products have the sensors or capability to feedback the information you need to improve the product, user experience, customer satisfaction, product safety etc. but would be the perfect next step.

Don’t fall behind – our team of experts will get you well on your way to transforming digitally.
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