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Digital Transformation
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Digital Transformation is Incomplete Without the Connected Worker

Digital Transformation is Incomplete Without the Connected Worker

Data, analysis, and visualization provide a network effect that empowers empirical decision-making for long-term enterprise sustainability.

By Ravi Gopinath - is Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Cloud Officer at AVEVA.

Ever since silver ore was discovered there in 1859, a continual influx of visitors to Carson City, Nev.—and the demand on public works that comes with this rush—has challenged city officials. Today, preventing any disruption of utility services means the Carson City Public Works Department must monitor and manage utilities across three counties.

To keep up with demand, for several years the city has used an intelligent and intuitive connected infrastructure system that can remotely calibrate and seamlessly switch up service responses to meet demand for transportation, power, and water systems. Using mobile devices, connected workers—field staff, engineers, and operators—can access critical key performance indicator (KPI) data and process information from the field, often in real time. A virtual representation of city resources on employees’ handsets helps them anticipate problems and take preventive action.

With its connected workers already using remote, integrated solutions, Carson City’s operations presaged the widespread workplace changes unfolding around the globe in response to the pandemic.

Today’s Connected Worker

The connected worker, integrated into the workplace environment by advanced networking technologies, is the human representation of digital transformation, interpreting networked data inputs collected from across an organizational grid to provide context, insight, and guidance that improves decision-making across the value chain: optimizing assembly-line operations, making inventory-adjustment decisions, fine-tuning heavy machinery.

Nearly half of all industrial organizations expect operational data to grow more than 15% over 12 months, according to IDC’s 2020 Worldwide IT/OT Convergence Survey.

When driven by data, decision-making is quicker and offers less room for error than decisions made without the benefit of this information. The connected decision-maker doesn’t need to be a domain expert—data-analytics platforms can shortlist optimum and empirically sound actions to support the best possible business outcomes.

The development ties into a dynamic shift in workplace demographics. With skilled specialists and knowledge experts aging out of the workforce, as OECD data indicates, the digital natives of Generations Y and Z possess an intuitive understanding of technology but may not have amassed the specialized engineering capabilities and experiential knowledge these industries demand. Cloud-based connected-workplace technology bridges the experiential knowledge gap across the shop floor, across generations, and across the globe.

Consequently, with digital assets fast becoming the backbone of industrial organizations, today’s connected worker accesses data and collaborates with disparate teams across time zones and geographies to unlock value in a radically different way.

Strategies to empower the connected worker

With the connected worker key to digital transformation, C-suite leaders must strategize on empowering their workforce across three dimensions:

  1. Creating and managing information: Moore’s Law, named after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, holds that the number of transistors per silicon chip doubles after two years. Put another way, computers double in power and halve in relative cost every two years. There’s no equivalent law for data. The amount of data organizations collect is still growing exponentially, and companies are measuring and accessing more details than ever before. Overlaying data that measures physical activity with artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms can give the workforce access to an ever-expanding library of digital artifacts: data that would require considerable time and resources for humans to collect and catalogue.
  2. Analyzing big data for actionable insights: When effectively managed, automation software can help your organization sort disparate data and transform it into immediately actionable insights. Its algorithms can simplify the once labor-intensive process of identifying patterns that lead to the most sustainable and profitable courses of action—so even novice connected workers can make data-driven decisions. This nexus of information, AI, and human insight defines Performance Intelligence, the strategic concept developed by AVEVA to explain how the combination of industrial data management and software unlocks success in today’s operating environment. It’s worth noting here that no matter to what extent industries deploy automation, they will only succeed in serving their purpose of sustainably delivering goods and services with humans at the helm. There will always be pilots on the flight deck.
  3. Using intelligence visualization for quicker decisions: Ever since the advent of handheld computers, human beings have become increasingly very visual animals. It isn’t enough just to read a manual or study a textbook, a YouTube video is a much more effective way to learn about a new concept. The new generation of digital natives that represent today’s connected worker don’t just want access to the information and insight, they want to see it presented in a simple, easy-to-understand way. AVEVA achieves this visualization by way of technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and immersive reality. Once the connected worker can virtually live the experience, so to speak, the data-driven decision-making process becomes quicker and easier, and sustainable decisions become second nature.

Data, analytics, and visualization form the essential toolkit for the connected worker. When these three elements come together, as the Carson City Public Works Department has shown, digital teams can collaborate quickly and more effectively while delivering a competitive advantage in the pandemic-era business cycle and beyond. Connected workers are already indispensable for industrial organizations, and the right digital toolkit will empower them to make the most of their new digitally transformed workplaces.

Source: Harvard Business Review

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