An Operational Guide to Digital Transformation for People in a Hurry
If you ever find yourself struggling to digitally transform your organization, business units, divisions, processes, assets & people, you might consider using the architecture of distributed #IoT software systems as your guide.
I know you’ve been converting things like documents, photos, sounds, numbers, blueprints & measurements from the physical world into the digital world for decades so I won’t belabor this point – you’re going to keep doing that.
From now on, you’re going to create everything digitally first. That means you’re using a computer with a screen, and maybe even a mouse. Okay, I won’t hold it against you if you still scribble notes on airplane drink napkins or draw pictures of early designs on the back of paper place mats.
Also, don’t confuse this endeavor with the business process re-engineering projects of the 1990s. You’re not doing a straight port of your manual processes to digital equivalents. Just because Steve Jobs liked skeuomorphism doesn’t mean your digital processes should reflect the old way of doing things.
Determine every way employees, assets, processes, departments & business units interact with each other as well as how they interact with customers, partners & suppliers in order to digitally convert those interfaces into APIs.
Yes, I want you to create RESTful APIs for every one of those interactions. These are your Digital Threads. Oh, and make sure you version them because an organization is always learning and evolving.
You need to model the properties, artifacts, behaviors, history & events that business units, departments, processes, assets & employees respond to in order to create compound Digital Twins to complete your Digitalization.
Why “compound” digital twins? Because we’re not just talking about atoms here. We’re describing the complex and oftentimes hierarchical relationships that look more like molecules. The human body has important subsystems like the heart, lungs and brain. Your organization is no different.
Your Digital Twins will run in a distributed platform that manages the Digital Threads connecting employees, assets, processes, departments, business units, customers, partners & suppliers.
At this point, your Digital Transformation should be in beta stage & your organization, with all its components, should come to life as a Digital Organism that probably still needs to be debugged.
Notice how I just fast-forwarded through a multi-month or multi-year process? Becoming a Digital Organization is going to take a while so be patient.
An important takeaway is that you’ve now digitally documented how every last aspect of how your enterprise operates. No more reliance on tribal knowledge & the company memory issues you have due to employee turnover are solved.
Everything is made into software & connected via Digital Threads streaming over 5G at a level no one has ever imagined. Digital Twins will collaborate with people & each other via APIs, apps & analytics to run your business.
Terms like CI/CD & DevOps will take on new meaning as they’re used to upgrade some or all of the business as developers make improvements. Scaling your business won’t necessarily mean hiring new employees anymore.
Instead, scaling might mean adding containers to a Cloud Native infrastructure. This probably sounds as weird as the first time you heard you had to write a job description for code performing Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
As your digitally transformed organization matures, you’ll be able to determine which functions are best handled by Digital Twins & which ones require human creativity, dexterity, or other unique abilities.
A new level of disruptive automation will sweep through. Don’t go dystopian on me. Like all the preceding industrial revolutions, Industry 4.0 will create more jobs than it eliminates. Lifelong education is the key.
This process is a large mountain to climb & I’m sure you’ve heard hundreds of examples of what it means from other analysts. My definition is a bit more revolutionary because you shouldn’t half-ass something this transformative.
You’re probably wondering, what’s the payoff in making digital transformation a reality? Hyper-efficiency, cost savings, a better customer experience, no more role confusion, no more lost organizational knowledge, & increased revenue via digital scaling.
I hope this synopsis has been helpful jump start to digitally transforming your organization & how it operates with people, processes, machines & connected intelligence.