Fearlessness — the true driver of digital transformation

Siemens Ltd

By Leonie Wong, Siemens Australia and New Zealand
Wednesday, 06 November, 2019

Fearlessness — the true driver of digital transformation

Digital transformation is a hard-hitting reality for most of us. On the face of it, the principles and applications are simple. Businesses need to adopt data and digital solutions for their processes and ensure engagement of people across the organisation with digital workflows.

But once you delve deeper, you realise that digital transformation is more than just replacing manual processes with digital processes — it’s a cultural shift and almost a reimagination of how you run your business to take advantage of the technology on offer.

The elements of the digital transformation process usually involve:

  • replacing siloed practices and single-point software solutions with integrated technology platforms that link end-to-end across the entire enterprise;
  • unifying separate sets of data and embedded data analytics into user interfaces and workflows to ensure that strategic and tactical decisions are driven by data-based insights;
  • increasing transparency through shared applications to improve accountability, accelerate processes and gain the agility to drive (or respond to) market disruption.

So why is it that some companies are facing challenges with adopting a digital transformation strategy?

I think it has a lot to do with mindset.

There are ‘leading edge’ companies that invent new products and introduce bold new ideas on a regular basis, but the reality is that not every company can be this. Most companies are ‘fast followers’ that can leverage the innovation of the leading-edge companies by picking and choosing innovations introduced into the marketplace and customise them in ways that make sense in their business. These organisations innovate in incremental steps as they quickly follow the innovators’ lead into new markets, leaving behind those who choose to do nothing. But sometimes even the smallest steps can seem like mountains.

For innovation to transform from ideas to reality, a company must foster technology and skills to drive behaviours that promote innovation. Technology is the facilitator to change, but it can’t be successful without the right aspirations to succeed.

Digital transformation sometimes feels like it’s easier said than done. Having a growth mindset towards how to constantly stay ahead of the game is exciting, but it can also be exhausting, compared to maintaining status quo, if the technology and processes aren’t keeping up with the people. It can also be challenging if there are too many barriers associated with costs, complexity and ageing infrastructure.

The need for technology to be accessible, scalable and easy to use is critical in allowing innovation to thrive. The barriers around security and safety also need to be overcome. One key area where I’m seeing change in this regard is in the usage of an industrial cloud-based platform together with a totally integrated factory automation architecture to generate, capture, store and visualise workflow. Technology is there to enable better decision-making through making quality data available in a timely manner. Ensuring good data is readily available helps progress agility so you can fail-forward and be fearless in your approach. Companies need to foster this fearlessness.

Fearlessness is required because digital transformation is not a template that can be copied: it is a unique evolution for each company that undergoes it. It is about selecting the right technology solution and coupling it with the great ideas to be found within your organisation — this is the key to unlocking your potential.

Leonie Wong looks after Business Development in the food and beverage sector for Siemens Australia and New Zealand. Leonie has a control system engineering background. She facilitates ideation and co-creation workshops to help translate the concepts of digitalisation and Industry 4.0 into actionable plans.

Image: ©stock.adobe.com/au/freshidea

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