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Inspectioneering Journal

Digital Transformation in 5 Guided Steps

By Nasrin Azari, President at Floodlight Software. This article appears in the September/October 2020 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.
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Introduction

According to a recent survey from Deloitte University Press (Deloitte Review, issue 22) on Achieving Digital Maturity, the top three biggest mistakes leaders make concerning the digital transformation of their companies are: 

  1. Lack of understanding of digital trends and the impact on the company
  2. Lack of strategic direction
  3. Organizational resistance to change

Deloitte goes on to conclude, “creating an effective strategy and linking it to overall business objectives remains one of the biggest challenges standing in the way of increasing a company’s digital maturity.”

Digital transformation is something that you know you need; something that will make your business better and your customers happier. But the execution—getting to that end state where all the magic happens—is intimidating. It’s a lot of work, seems incredibly time-consuming, and what if it’s more trouble than it’s worth?

This article presents a practical guide through the execution of a digital transformation, breaking it down into five easy-to-digest steps. It will explain what digital transformation means and will help you understand the benefits you can achieve, as well as the challenges that may arise. For demonstration purposes, we have used an Inspection Company as an example, but these concepts can be applied to any organization.

What Does ‘Digital Transformation’ Mean?

As a starting point, it’s important to understand what digital transformation is and how it applies to industrial inspection companies. Here are two good definitions:

“Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers. It's also a cultural change that requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment, and get comfortable with failure. (The Enterprisers Project) 

“Digital transformation marks a radical rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people and processes to fundamentally change business performance, says George Westerman, MIT principal research scientist and author of Leading Digital: Turning Technology Into Business Transformation. Digital transformation, which Westerman says should be led by the CEO, requires cross-departmental collaboration in pairing business-focused philosophies with rapid application development models. (CIO.com) 

The thing that makes digital transformation intimidating is that it’s big and broad. It is change and requires acceptance by the entire organization. It should be initiated/led by the CEO, supported by management, and adopted by the rest of the organization, at all levels. 

Before delving deeper, there are two things to keep top of mind: 

  1. Successfully navigating through a transformation requires being open to new ways of operating. You should encourage the exploration of new ideas and question the status quo.
  2. Digital technologies are evolving all the time. What’s available today is much more robust than what was available ten years ago. And ten years from now, there will be new technologies that surpass what we are thinking about today. Although a “digital transformation” sounds like a one-and-done process, it’s actually an ongoing effort that starts with creating a digital foundation that is flexible and built to support future changes, allowing you to add new functionality to expand your capabilities as needed.

For inspection companies, digital transformation today means doing away with paper forms, collecting results and data using a mobile device, and exploring smart, connected systems that can communicate with each other to drive action or expand a wealth of information. It means automatically capturing data from Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) devices and continuous monitoring systems. It means creating a searchable central data repository that serves as a source for advanced analytics. It means removing as much human error in the inspection process as possible and making faster and better business decisions. It means more uptime, safer operations, and a longer life of industrial equipment.

When considering all its long-term potential, digital transformation can feel difficult and overwhelming. But it’s not necessary to try to transform your business all at once. Creating a flexible foundation that supports growth and change will both prepare you for an uncertain future and will enable you to adopt changes in bite-sized, manageable pieces.

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