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The digital transformation – easier said than done
“Digital transformation” is the integration of IT into all areas of a business. Companies have been using IT tools for decades, but the idea of migrating the entire business onto the cloud quickly becomes incredibly complex. Companies have seen the need to modernise since the early 2000s, but the process has not become any easier over the past 20 years. A McKinsey Global Survey on digital transformations in 2018 found that the organisations of more than eight in ten respondents had undertaken such efforts in the past five years, but less than 30% had succeeded.
These costly failures can set a business back many years, so how do you ensure that the digital transformation is successful?
Integrating workers in the digital age
To ensure a successful digital transformation, companies must make sure they are distinguishing between “automisation” and “digitisation” and that the role of people is not reduced, but rather enhanced.
Ensuring that workers are kept at the heart of the process is vital. Manufacturing is a prime example of an industry that can benefit from this approach – it stands on the edge of a fourth industrial revolution and has increasingly been incorporating technology into its operations. People are still needed, however, to maintain and develop the technology that constitutes this digitised process, and technology can be used to make them more efficient and productive.
The Hitachi approach uses advanced analytic technologies to identify the source of productivity problems amongst the human workforce, thus giving a better understanding of the industry and how to make it more productive. At a Japanese tool builder, this approach is being used to increase productivity and cut production lead times by 50%. In other industries, the technology can be used to improve circumstances for workers – examples include video conferencing and project management software, which both allow for more efficient collaboration. This is also being used in the Italian digital manufacturing project, IoTrain, which aims to bring the benefits of the digital transformation to Hitachi Rail. Amongst its benefits, it provides better operational efficiency and supports decision making.
Leaders of the digital transformation
The person leading a company’s workforce is also important. Results indicate that when companies are successful in the transformation, they are more likely to have had digital-savvy leaders in place. Training our leaders of the future in these skills is also therefore clearly very important. Hitachi’s Young Leaders Initiative is designed to identify and nurture the best young talent across Asia and encourage them to become future leaders. This year’s 15th edition of the programme was themed “Digital Transformation for a Sustainable Future”, and was designed to give delegates an insight into using digital technology to address development challenges.
It is easy to be dazzled by new technology which promises to fix all business challenges. However, the most vital component is the people at the heart of a business transformation.