In my conversations with customers over the past year, including multinational beverage distributors, consumer electronic behemoths, and aerospace giants, digital transformation has been a significant priority. This was, of course, as expected.
According to one report, companies in the U.S. will spend over $250 million on digital transformation efforts this year. That number is expected to grow to over $470 million by 2024.
One difference that separates digital transformation initiatives from previous enterprise IT projects is the broad swath of technologies under its banner. Cloud. IoT. AI. Big Data.
Without question, since it is such a broad topic, digital transformation will remain a priority in the coming year. You’ll soon read article after article “predicting” that technologies under the digital transformation umbrella will stay hot. They all will. However, the focus in 2020 will shift from what is being used to how it is being used. Maximizing what is already in place will become the priority.
Here are six factors organizations need to consider to get the most out of digital transformation efforts in the new year.
The CIO is dead. Long live the CIO. The role of the chief information officer is in the midst of a significant transformation. Fifteen years ago, the CIO had a seat at the table, playing a leading role in enterprise technology decisions. Since then, the CIO has moved into more of a technical support role and away from the decision-making table. To maximize digital transformation efforts, the role of the CIO must be reborn. The new CIO requires new skills and leadership qualities. The CIO must become the decision-maker on major aspects of digital transformation including precisely how the organization will handle the data and technology that connects people, machines, and processes in real-time.
Cartography is key. While the new CIO may use Waze to get to the office, it won’t help much once they get there. In many companies, especially those with multiple facilities, the CIO is currently in the dark on the current complete inventory of digital transformation resources. Like SaaS initiatives before them, digital transformation projects entered the enterprise one at a time, department by department, lacking any central control. New organizational maps will be created to show what you have, where it is, what it’s measuring, and what is connected to it. A focus in 2020 will be mapping and understanding current assets and building digital models that maximize what you already have.
Understand what’s trending and why. We’re not talking Twitter here, and there won’t be any hashtags. By its very nature, digital transformation efforts produce massive amounts of data. Data from machines. Users. Customers. Transactions. Organizations will start to realize the value of analyzing paradata from these systems. This will require new dashboards to determine the trends in technology infrastructures that would have otherwise gone unnoticed and what can be done to capitalize on those trends.
Data isn’t the new oil. Or is it? Since the dawn of digital transformation, pundits have positioned data as the world's most valuable natural resource, dethroning oil of that distinction. Like oil, to be useful data needs to be refined. Also, like oil, data has become a commodity. The difference is, unlike oil, data today is extraordinarily inexpensive and very easy to get. A problem most have never experienced with oil, organizations today are drowning in too much data. A key imperative for 2020 is to focus on acquiring and connecting the right data needed for very specific digital transformation initiatives. It’s about quality over quantity.
Know the protocols. With digital transformation, no enterprise can succeed by living solely inside the four walls of a confined data center. Data is shared with employees, customers, partners, suppliers, and other third parties. As with the volumes of data, there's no shortage of ways to connect otherwise disparate parties. The new year will bring a renewed focus on common integration protocols. Choosing the right set of common protocols is as crucial as obtaining the right data.
Please pass the wrench. Organizations will look to give teams, including software engineers, industrial engineers, and UX designers, what they need to succeed. Increasingly, organizations are moving away from pre-packaged solutions and toward getting the right tools to help teams build dashboards that provide actionable insights into data. With the right tools providing a better understanding of the data, quick modifications that yield tremendous results can be made.
Digital transformation is a journey, and most organizations are just starting to take their initial steps. The table is set for success. In 2020 they will focus on adapting solutions to meet very specific needs.
Elhay Farkash is CEO of Zira, a provider of cloud-based analytics products that make industrial manufacturing plants more efficient.
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