What’s really holding back your digital transformation? Technology or people?
At last week’s AVEVA World Summit I had the pleasure of hosting a panel entitled Tomorrow’s Technology. With a focus on how digital transformation can be leveraged to maximise return on capital and improve profitability – it was interesting to hear how some of our customers are already doing just that.
What was common across the presentations from Mike Lomman from Roy Hill, Nicola Rossi from Enel, and Johnny Howze of Southern Company – was that they started on the journey by focusing on change management, the cultural shift, and the altered work practices that they wanted to drive. While they all come from different industries and different perspectives, they each recognised that to change their businesses, they had to adopt a new mindset, a new culture – across the entire business. And it started with providing their people with the space to think about what the future could look like.
This really became apparent during the Q&A session when they were all asked whether it was the readiness of the technology or of the workforce itself that was most challenging in applying digital transformation initiatives. Everyone agreed that largely the technology was already available – think cloud, predictive analytics, enterprise manufacturing intelligence, AR/VR – but that really changing work practices only comes by having your people truly engaged in the process and rethinking what’s possible.
Technology is simply an enabler for this paradigm shift. It enables people to approach traditional problems with a new thought process. And it enables that richness of experience to be systematised for better performance.
As Mike put it “we started with the question – how would you build a control room to mine the moon?”. This allowed the team at Roy Hill to really think broadly about the business and to hone in on the true challenges, and address and anticipate each obstacle along the way. The result? Roy Hill is one of only two mega projects to have been delivered on scope, on time and on budget. It was the fastest ramp up to full production in a mining project in the last 20 years and it finished 6 months ahead of plan!
"Discover how Roy Hill have used digital transformation to drive performance across their entire value chain"
Jumping over to the Power industry – and Johnny Howze from Southern Company – we learned about a very different problem. Johnny is Plant Manager for Plant Scherer, one of the largest coal power plants in the United States. His focus was entirely on how they could improve existing operations and find innovative solutions to create value, particularly in their generating facilities. With a goal of getting information to anyone, anywhere in 3 to 5 minutes – one of the steps he implemented was the introduction of a technology office to assist in the transformation. One of the other (and much simpler) applications of this thought process was in setting up a technology whiteboard: having a white board front and centre in their operations allowed anyone to put forward ideas that would improve their day to day processes. This allowed the entire team to participate and take ownership of driving the transformation. It also helped drive adoption of these new work practices since in many cases the suggestions were put forth by the teams themselves.
These are some simple but effective ideas that you can utilise in your businesses today to help the cultural shift necessary to truly embrace the benefits of digital transformation. Combine this approach and methodology with the adoption of key technologies – such as cloud technologies– and you can be well on your way to success.
Discover more in the ‘Why cloud, why now’ eBook.
Rob McGreevy is the Head of Corporate Strategy.