9 November 2018

5 things everyone needs to understand about Digitalization

Working with Digital Journey Management for Siemens Power Services’, my clients are interested in winning in the digital age – so my first priority is really understanding the challenges our customers are facing today, and how Digital can help them achieve their business goals. That said, there are a lot of misconceptions about Digitalization, and during this journey we spend a lot of time and effort discussing and working with topics that are often overlooked or misunderstood as we seek to grow and scale our enterprises- here are my personal ‘Top 5 things we all need to understand about Digitalization’.

Define Digitalization, before defining your Digital Strategy

I hear a new definition for Digitalization from my clients every week; some of them are spot on, and others are vague. I have my own favorite definition, and I’m sure you have yours- and that’s OK– Digitalization looks different for everyone. The important thing is that there is alignment within your organization about what Digital will (and perhaps more importantly– won’t) do for you. A well executed Digital solution can create new value for your enterprise, but Digitalization is not a magic wand- do your research and consult with experts inside your organization, as your definition will inform your business and investment strategy, and keep your teams pointed in the right direction. One tip is to try to be as specific as possible in order to manage expectations.

It’s all about solving problems- not promoting technologies!

Before I can start talking about digital technologies with my clients, I ask them: ‘’what problem are you trying to solve?’’ This goes for every digital technology from AI to the IIoT to block-chain. Unlike more traditional B2B offerings, the Siemens digital portfolio is meant to be adapted to the customer challenge at hand, solve real-life problems and drive specific value. Off the shelf solutions are great when you have an off the shelf problem, but most of our customers have unique pain-points, specific to their processes, regions and markets. Take the time to listen, put yourself in the customer’s shoes and really understand what’s keeping them up at night. Understanding the problem you are trying to solve is vastly more important that keeping track of the digital landscape.

Understanding the problem you are trying to solve is … more important than keeping track of the digital landscape.

#02- Top 5 things everyone needs to understand about Digitalization

Digitalization and Change Management are two sides of the same coin

We have all been there- if only we had this tool, or this technology, all our problems would be solved. After you have identified the problem (congratulations!) and started to implement a new digital tool or process, you are still only half way home- new technology likely means new ways of working and digital technology more than any other often means a whole lot of change management. I have sat with clients that both appreciate and underappreciate the organizational and process changes that a new technology will lead to- and it is the latter group which needs to pay close attention to this topic. Change management is even more important to promote when it comes to digital, because digital technology can quickly end up leaving value on the table when it isn’t fully adopted by your organization. We experience this ‘value vacuum’ in different ways depending on when and where in the organization the adoption fails, but what is unique to digital, is that this technology has a tendency to grow and change over time. In the end, this means anticipating resistance, supporting your organizations as they experience change, and encouraging creativity to meet new challenges.

…digital technology can quickly end up leaving value on the table when it isn’t fully adopted by your organization.

John Ayotte

Data is good, experts are great- but data and experts are unstoppable

I would be amiss in writing a top 5 ‘’need to understand about digitalization’’ without mentioning the incredible symbiosis which is a good data set in the hands of a domain expert- they truly need each other to shine. Before you start your next digital endeavor, PLEASE consider your data requirements. All too often I meet with customers and business partners with incredible ambition but poorly maintained data. Prioritize your data!

Once we have graduated past data requirements, we need to interpret it and put it to use- this is where the Siemens expert comes in- Siemens works with our customers to match the right expert to the right problem, in order to leverage the most value from your data. The OEM understanding of our equipment is the basis for all of our business and our digital business is no exception. I always recommend bringing experts into client meetings, especially when we are consulting on a new digital collaboration. It is the interpretation of data, the application of our operational experience, and deep understanding our equipment that inevitably ends up getting the job done.

We have to move together- what success looks like in the Digital Age

This last one is really simple. When it comes to digital, we need to first be on the same page as our customers- we need to have a common understanding, language and expectations. We need to address real problems and challenges, not only technologies, to truly win and grow. We need to plan for change and understand the ways in which digital will impact our people and processes. We need to invest in our data, and apply domain knowledge to get the biggest impact out of our digital transformation. Most importantly, we need to do this together, in partnership with our customers- every step of the way. Even in the VOCA era, with rapidly evolving digital technologies and markets, success still looks the way it always has- like a partnership.

If you the reader have any additions you would like to make to this ‘Top 5’ list let me know! I am always eager to gain new perspectives and discuss Digital Transformation. Where are you in your Digital Journey? What’s in your Top 5?

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