Software has become an integral part of our lives. It has all but eliminated paper; replaced physical and analogue supports; modified our habits; and multiplied communication tools. Today, digital tools are the primary way we interact with the world around us. But, despite the great changes in recent years and in particular those related to the Covid-19 global pandemic, digitalization has transformed our lives gradually, and is rarely perceived as a revolution.
Software is not a bubble
Even in the industrial field, digital transformation started on a similar path; for 15 years, the business world has been going through a deep and continuous change. So many transformations and breathtaking investments have been classified as speculative bubbles, or Hype Cycles, driven by disproportionate expectations of technological innovations and limitations. The reality of the situation is very different: quoting Marc Andreessen, the creator of the first web browser, software is not a bubble. Each new technology for digitalization links with previous technological innovations combinatorially, increasing the opportunities to:
- Generate new business models
- Accelerate the transformation of existing models
- Increase the efficiency of productive processes
This is one of the mechanisms that enables companies to innovate and consolidate their competitive advantage. It is not a sudden revolution, and results do not come from the adoption of a single, specific piece of technology. The constant and consistent application of digital transformation over time is the factor that determines its success. What appears to be a sudden industrial revolution is, in fact, the result of a slow and steady process that has reached critical mass and begun to produce increasingly noticeable results.
The success factors for digitalization
Digital strategy and business strategy are the key elements to successfully tackle digital transformation.
- Digital Strategy is the awareness and ability to incorporate digital innovation into the production process, identifying and leveraging the benefits it offers. To mitigate risk and get ahead of the fallibility inherent in the adoption of any new technology, it may be wise to engage the services of digital transformation professionals, so as to integrate their knowledge and experience with the best practices in the field of digitalization.
- Business strategy defines the sustainability and opportunity of the investment: in its most effective forms, one or more new business models made possible by digitalization can be identified. An easy example is the creation of a Data Market within the company’s value chain or ecosystem: data concerning processes, appropriately treated, can be purchased by partners, or direct or indirect customers, for various types of activities, from marketing to service.
Technology is not enough
In addition to defining digital and business strategies, corporate culture must also adapt to the new paradigms, keeping in mind that technological innovation is not a goal into itself, but a tool at the service of the company’s domain knowledge and business process.
Technology must be invisible: it must not generate distractions or create friction. It must simply run continuously, scale as opportunities identified by the business grow, adapt to the business process, interpret and absorb domain knowledge, and support the digital strategy defined by the business.
Making technology invisible is not easy, and this is one of the reasons why digitalization has struggled to deliver on its promises of adoption and growth. While it is now relatively easy to apply technologies such as IoT and machine learning in controlled situations like pilot projects or simple Proof of Concepts, it is not as easy to bring these solutions into production.
A typical example of these difficulties is IT / OT integration, i.e. the convergence of software and operations. The latter are traditionally linked to closed automation systems – those without open and standardized interfaces – and highly specialized systems, or even those completely missed by automation which are still managed by analogue or manual processes. IT / OT integration can be demonstrated through prototypes and demo implementation, but it is no mean feat to guarantee durability and reliability in real-world scenarios without sufficient experience, expertise, and the organisation and planning required to develop the software effectively.
What obstacles remain to be overcome?
The key to the success of a digital strategy is being able to overcome a number of obstacles such as:
- The convergence of IT / OT
- End-Of-Line management,
- Single-Sign-On and data access authorization,
- multi-tenancy and data protection,
- quality of collected data
- lifecycle management of data analysis models
With a systematic approach to digitalization, various technologies that have emerged in recent years can be coordinated and combined with those the most up-to-date to achieve a complete and harmonious system. Only in this way can innovation be built incrementally.
FlairBit team has been working in digital transformation for more than 15 years, and in that time has integrated and used all the technologies that make digital transformation possible today: web services and internet, Industrial Internet of Things, mobile, machine learning and artificial intelligence. The experience accumulated over the years is condensed into our product, Senseioty. Thanks to Senseioty, companies will be able to take advantage of the benefits of digitalization, measure their operational efficiency, improve their processes and devise new business models, and embark on a path that will keep them one step ahead of their competitors: the continuous adoption of new digital technologies, managed with solid strategy and expertise.