SOMETIMES IT’S THE little things that deliver the powerful messages. I started to write this editorial about the findings in the Analytics That Matter in 2020 eBook research produced by LNS Research at lnsresearch. com. The day I was writing this also happened to be the opening day of the AVEVA World digital conference. As I listened to the speakers and made my way through the eBook, little things kept jumping out at me. I noted them and share some of them here to help you with your digital transformation. The overriding message from both sources is that companies that are not seriously involved in digital-transformation projects are rapidly falling behind and not likely to catch up.
The LNS Research publication differentiates companies that are implementing digital/industrial-transformation programs (followers) from those that are leaders. Leaders demonstrate to the company and peers that they are realizing value from the transformation investments. The percentage of leaders has risen from 28% in 2019 to 37% in 2020, i.e., transformation is accelerating quickly across industry.
Supply-chain management has become critical and there’s a significant effort to regionalize and localize supply chains. There is also an accelerated investment in digital transformation and artificial intelligence with more transformation happening in the past few months than prior to the pandemic. Manufacturers in every factory are moving to automate wherever they can. Many online/remote systems and functions will remain in place after the pandemic—paraphrased from Caglayan Arkan, Vice President of Manufacturing Industry at Microsoft, speaking at the AVEVA conference.
The LNS study also addressed the supply-chain issue: “It is not just about having multiple potential suppliers but, more importantly, the culture of relationships—working together to build long-term resilience rather than the typically combative relationships we often see today between suppliers and clients. Post-COVID-19, we would bet on industrial-transformation leaders because they are concerned about company culture—a prerequisite to supply-chain collaboration.”
Implementation of digital-twin technologies is rapidly coming to the forefront. According to Jaime Ortiz, Construction and Completions Manager for Shell, presenting at the AVEVA conference, benefits of the technology that they’ve experienced in constructing a new plant outside of Pittsburgh included dynamic-simulation studies, process-design verification, and virtual commissioning. He described knowing that they had 150 items on a punch list. When they ran the digital-twin system, it identified 4,500 items that needed attention. It’s not hard to imagine the cost savings they will realize by fixing those items before the plant goes live.
In the LNS research, which focuses heavily on analytics, we’re told that industrial-transformation leaders track many more metrics than followers. The only two cases where followers lead are reactive metrics: workplace injuries and unplanned downtime. Leaders are just as good at those metrics but have less need to track them. Rather, they focus on proactive metrics that they can control in advance of trouble.
None of this transformation happens or is effective without a well-planned cloud data-management strategy. How important is it? ARC Advisory Group’s Craig Resnick, at the AVEVA conference, made the definitive statement: “If you don’t have a cloud strategy, you will not have the flexibility and agility to maintain competitive advantage in the new normal.”