June 29, 2021 - What exactly do we mean when we say ‘digital transformation?’ Is it simply taking an analog business, adding a bunch of sensors to machinery and then sending the resulting data to the cloud?
Certainly that could qualify as a digital transformation. But it’s not a very robust transformation and it’s not likely to return much on your investment.
Instead, we can think of ‘digital transformation’ in terms of its discrete parts. Each of them builds on one another and progressively yields more value to the business. With that in mind, here’s a breakdown of the technologies that typically comprise a digital transformation for a business:
We’d be remiss if we didn’t note that the remote connectivity is the backbone for the Internet of Things.
For that reason and more, remote connectivity is first on our list. Think of it as the basic wiring and foundation that precedes everything else. On the hardware side, this might be a set of sensors placed in strategic positions to collect physical data such as temperature or pressure. Or, it might be a software package installed on an on-prem server where it collects information about the network, the server software, the hardware components and more.
In either set up, you’ve achieved the goal of collecting data from devices or infrastructure operating out in the field. With this data flowing back to a centralized location (most likely in the cloud), we’re able to view the information and use it for reports. Later on, we’ll also manipulate the information in other ways to gain more insights.
Our connectivity set up should allow for information to flow two ways: from the devices to the cloud and then back down from the cloud to the devices. The latter will open the way for remote management of our devices. Remote management can perform actions such as pushing a software update to all of our devices operating in the field.
Or, let’s say you need screenshots of all your digital signs. You can do that from a central location by sending a remote command to all of your digital signs asking for a screenshot. Sounds easy right? It’s certainly easier than sending a person out to all of those locations and taking screenshots manually.
Speaking of doing things manually, it’s not always the most efficient way to perform tasks. Under certain circumstances, it’s much better for tasks to be performed automatically. For example, if the data coming in through your remote connectivity indicates a problem with a hardware component, it would be better to have a repair ticket logged and assigned automatically rather than waiting for someone to do that manually.
Automation can be a powerful weapon and a great automation tool can improve all sorts of business operations to make them more efficient. In most cases, the software can be customized to handle almost every common situation a business wants to automate.
As we mentioned earlier, the data supplied by remote connectivity can be manipulated to gain business insights. This commonly falls under the umbrella of analytics, which uses applied mathematics to discover patterns and meaningful relationships in data.
With this new knowledge, a business can often predict certain outcomes given a certain set of variables. In turn, this can help drive decisions going forward and lead to improvements in whatever area is being studied. The cycle repeats itself as new data comes in and more insights are gleaned.
While it has regularly made appearances in science fiction, artificial intelligence is now becoming more and more common in the real world. In fact, many executives are starting to incorporate it into their business plans and for good reason: it’s an incredible tool that’s being used for everything from fraud prevention to health care diagnostics to supply chain optimization.
Think of artificial intelligence is the next step in analytics because it requires less human interaction. A true artificial intelligence engine should run autonomously, digesting data and then offering insights based on what it learns. In addition, an artificial intelligence program can help reduce human errors and, just as in the case of analytics, produce better outcomes as time goes by.
Coming Soon to a Digital Transformation Near You
While many of the items on this list have been talked about for many years, their adoption is accelerating as more and more businesses discover the benefits of digital transformations.
With the right planning and, in some cases, the right technology partner, these technologies can usher in a host of improvements in operations, productivity and customer satisfaction.