A Greater Return on Digital Transformation Investments

by , | Apr 9, 2021 | Digital Transformation, Industrial IoT, Operational Excellence

Todd Walden

Author and Blogger

Digital transformation is about more than connecting to devices in the field. Today, we look to technology to redefine the way we work. Digital transformation and a connected workforce help us improve management and control of operations.

The intersection of operations and technology was a core focus of IIoT World’s Manufacturing Day. In one panel, Accelerate ROI from your Digital Investments, Emerson’s Mani Nambiar, vice president of product management for digital transformation, joined other industry experts to share thoughts and strategies for making the most of digital investments.

More successful digital transformation

Organizations undertaking a successful digital transformation initiative typically have clear goals in mind from the very beginning. Mani highlighted that though there are many areas of focus, a few particularly common ones stand out:

  • Reliability
  • Safety
  • Production optimization
  • Emissions and energy management
  • Sustainability
  • Workforce empowerment

For one manufacturer in Singapore facing energy challenges, starting with a goal in mind was key. The company focused on improving steam consumption to save money and reduce energy use. Mani explained,

They found the sensors, the deployment, the analytics, all end to end. They followed up later and that was the solution to the problem they had. Starting with the problem in mind is really the big, important step for digital transformation.

Success drives real results

Johna Johnson, CEO of Nemertes Research, shared a recent study that supported this idea. According to her research, organizations focusing on generating new revenue, reducing costs, or improving processes saw significant benefits from digital transformation initiatives. The most successful groups saw roughly $100 million in revenue if they were focused on revenue generation, $7 million less in cost if focused on cost reduction, or 60% process improvement. Johna summarized,

Our definition is either new money, saved money, or better processes.

Targeting measurable results

Mani shared how this metrics mindset applied to the race to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine. Digital transformation was an essential enabler for the record vaccine delivery schedule in 2020. These teams were able to use digital transformation, Mani explained, because

they’re looking at it with a clear mindset, with a clear goal in mind with a commitment to make it happen all the way from the top. They want to see it through from the raw material all the way to the patient.

One of the key strategies COVID vaccine teams used was to partner with automation experts to ensure they could use the same software from the lab all the way through to manufacturing. Moreover, they used their automation partner’s expertise to help apply analytics on top of their automation and bring that information all the way to the enterprise level. Mani emphasized,

Connectivity. That’s the biggest challenge for customers who aren’t successful. When you’re unable to pull all your data from underlying systems and sensors all the way to the enterprise level, you’re not going to put the analytics to the best use. You’re not going to contextualize and use the data holistically.

The IT/OT convergence

The presenters also shared the importance of generating buy in from IT for OT projects. Even though the problem statement for most digital transformation projects is going to come from OT, it is important to bring IT in from the very beginning. Mani explained,

When you architect and deliver your solution, they’re there as a partner, not as another department…So you can cross the gaps and augment the workforce effectively in delivering those digital transformation solutions.

Partner for success

Mani recommended Emerson’s four-step plan to successful digital transformation:

  1. Start with a goal in mind
  2. Get the most out of the data
  3. Empower your people
  4. Multiply your success

Emerson experts have deep experience with every stage of digital transformation projects across a wide range of industries. By partnering with Emerson early in digital transformation initiatives, organizations can help ensure their strategies are targeted to deliver measurable results.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.