How do we translate the technology investments we make into business value? In a CERAWeek 2019 panel, How Technology is Creating Business Value, Emerson president Mike Train offered perspectives from an automation technology point of view.
Mike opened his comments by advising to start with the business case before the technologies. Prioritize based on impact and the effort required to implement and manage change. Early successes with solid returns can enable scaling to tackle larger challenges. Look for opportunities in the key areas including safety, reliability, production, and energy & emissions.
One panelist mentioned the importance of cloud-based applications to foster collaboration among experts located in different locations, or outside the company with key suppliers. This collaboration process is much more difficult with applications spread out in silos in different servers in different locations.
Machine learning is one technology that is valuable to crunch through massive data sets, such as subsurface data and make information available for collaboration and decision making.
Mike spoke to the people side of advanced technology adoption. Collaboration is not something that necessarily spontaneously occurs, it needs to be fostered and reinforced. One example are the skillsets in Information Technology (IT) and Operations Technology (OT) are different, value, and require collaboration to realize the benefits in the technology investments, especially as it comes to process performance improvements.
While some approach digital transformation initiatives from a “big bang” perspective looking for large scale organizational changes, a more common approach is to identify specific business problems to solve and change incrementally over time.
Change management is one of the most important competencies to navigate the change in work processes that are required to fully extract the value from the investments made in digital transformation.
Some examples of change management actions include involving cross functional teams in defining the workflows, communicating and promoting of early successes, and developing and deploying curriculum and training to upskill employees affected by the changes.