The Existential Threat of Digital Business Transformation

By John McDonald VP of Strategy and Go To Market at Arrayworks

There are four technologies that have changed the way and speed at which businesses and governments differentiate, compete, and eliminate their competition.  

  • Cloud Computing
  • Big Data
  • IoT
  • Artificial Intelligence

The benefits of these technologies individually are significant, but when properly combined and leveraged, provide exponential gains. They can lower operating costs, provide valuable customer insights, drive real-time predictive capabilities to maximize opportunities, drive innovation, and improve products and services.   

However, too many organizations have delayed or paused their digital transformation initiatives because no identifiable benefits were achieved during early project deployments. This typically happens for one or several of the following reasons: 

  • Success was not clearly defined and projects did not start with the end in mind  
  • Projects were not assigned a clear owner 
  • The project was not part of a broader well-defined transformation strategy  
  • Internal competing projects canceled each other out 
  • Technical debt hampered transformation initiatives 
  • Transformation fatigue – it is unknown how the project benefits individual teams, team members, and the entire organization 
  • No roadmap forward to provide guidance and keep  the project on course 
  • The project took longer than expected and lost critical operational support 
  • No buy-in from key stakeholders  

It is not surprising that so many digital transformation projects end up on the rocks and are eventually scrapped altogether. Whether its poor execution, lack of leadership, or too much legacy debt making these projects so hard, one thing is clear, the status quo is not working. Failure to embrace the digital transformation challenge will eventually result in loss of market share, loss of jobs and loss of the business itself.   

Consider Creating a  Cross-Organizational Center of Excellence to Guide Strategy, Investment, and Continual Improvement 

In order to achieve significant and lasting Return on Digital Transformation Investments (RODTI), a broad, cross-silo strategy driven from a centralized operating group and supported at the highest executive levels is needed. To support this effort, many organizations are establishing independent digital transformation Centers of Excellence (CoE’s), empowered to identify projects and select which technologies are appropriate for investment.  The CoE works with selected project leaders from across the organization to ensure that a comprehensive approach is in place. CoE’s must also educate and share the broader organization goals with all stakeholders in order to align transformation efforts with these enterprise-wide initiatives. Additionally, the CoE is charged with ensuring that all new technology investments are aligned to the overall transformation strategy and are compatible with previous foundational transformation technology investments. The goal is to maximize the chances of long-term RODTI’s by eliminating unnecessary and redundant technology investments and continually building upon previous successes.   

A Digital Hub Strategy – Necessary to Achieving Sustainable RODTI 

A platform strategy lays the foundation on which organizations can innovate, test, refine and scale successful digital transformation initiatives. Platforms provide the central and unified digital Hub to incorporate data, orchestrate information and deliver the real-time situational awareness needed to understand and respond appropriately to opportunities and threats. These opportunities and threats would otherwise remain unseen for months, if not years, while the data was spread out over multiple legacy reporting or operational solutions.  

While a platform strategy can enable organizations to create a robust digital Hub, the Hub is only as powerful as the data it orchestrates and the insights it provides.  A Digital Twin of the Organization (DTO) supports a robust digital Hub by providing a new and more adaptable approach to creating digital entity models to represent every facet of the organization.  People, places, documents, data, processes, sensors and “things” are digitally represented as they exist in the real world.  Once these digital doppelgangers have been created, relationships can be defined, actions can be initiated, real-time situational awareness can be achieved, and informed decisions can be made.  

Use Case: Digital Twin to Optimize Supply Chains 

A digital twin of the supply chain enables organizations to digitally represent the entire value chain of a product. From  raw materials and suppliers, to  customer sales data, product BOM’s and associated inventories, data typically held captive to the CRM, ERP, PLM and inventory management systems, every facet is represented. The data from these disparate systems is incorporated along with real-time edge data depicting the status and condition of the product including how it’s being used in the field and how it’s being impacted by changing usage and environmental conditions.  By combing all this previously independent data and meta-data sets for analysis, organizations can quickly uncover troves of valuable insights, allowing them to become predictive about their factories and the products they sell. A robust DTO like this enables a real-time integrated cross-organization awareness not achievable with traditional solutions.  The results are significant improvements in operational efficiencies and improvements in product delivery and services that are driven by actual usage and environmental data. 

As Aristotle said some 2371 years ago – “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” 

While it may sound difficult to achieve, with the advances in cloud hosting options, big data, the ever-increasing deployment of sensors to both equipment and products, and game changing advances in AI, achieving significant and quantifiable transformation is within reach. 

A Digital Twin of the Organization provides the “whole”, that ultimately unleashes the combined powers of these transformative technologies.  

Getting started 

The Arrayworks Transformation Acceleration Platform (TAP+), provides an advanced low-code application platform that allows for the rapid creation of digital twins through robust digital representation and adaptable entity models.  This allows organizations to gain actionable insights from across the entire value chain.  We then define the relationships and rules needed to control and orchestrate appropriate responses to events across the digital ecosystem.  

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