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Digital Transformation Is a C-Suite Discussion

April 14, 2021

By Lal Karsanbhai, CEO, Emerson

Every field of work has its own language and vernacular, but “digital transformation” is a phrase that cuts across industries. From energy to manufacturing to retail, leaders are evaluating digital transformation – sometimes warily – to understand the promise of this buzz phrase and what it might mean for their business.

While it’s easy to think digital = technology and filter digital transformation initiatives to the IT department, this is a missed opportunity for organizations. While technology is certainly a critical part of digital transformation, it’s just one piece of a larger ecosystem that must pull in both people and processes to truly be successful.

At its core, digital transformation is simply using technology solutions to rethink business process and performance – an issue that is close to the heart of every C-suite. And like any other business-focused solution, digital transformation must be driven by strategy – not by chasing the latest technology.

The true benefit of digital transformation is what it empowers: relevant time data and smart analytics that drive business value. Data is a critical currency that enables leaders to make business decisions with the best, most current information. Digital transformation takes existing data as well as insights from new sensors and makes them actionable, giving plant managers the power to detect issues before they arise, to mitigate problems and optimize operations.

This same data can show trends and critical insights to help business leaders improve productivity, safety and reliability in not just one plant but across an entire enterprise. This ability to realize returns across multiple facilities is why the best digital transformation projects are scalable, achievable and driven by a clear, identified business need that inspires further exploration on the right approach to achieve the organization’s goals.

Despite the business returns that come from strategic initiatives to address persistent business problems, many digital transformation initiatives come together in the opposite way. Organizations may see an exciting new technology and make a purchase, working backward to find a problem this technology may help address.

But this approach to starting is rarely successful. Digital technology isn’t just (or even primarily) a technology investment: It’s a cultural shift that must be propelled by business strategy that combines both information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) to develop and implement.

There’s little surprise that where to start is a common sticking point for customers. With so much conversation surrounding the topic, it’s hard to know when, where and how to jump into the race. Organizations need a partner, a guide to show them the way forward and the bumps to avoid.

That’s why Emerson introduced our new Digital Transformation business. As our customers have reorganized to encourage collaboration and revisit work processes among key functions critical for digital transformation, Emerson has done the same. Our new group brings together critical resources to help manufacturers develop and implement practical digital transformation strategies that deliver Top Quartile performance.

Emerson’s new organization combines existing expertise in consulting, project execution, smart sensor technologies, data management and analytics – all part of Emerson’s Plantweb digital ecosystem. The organization will help customers not only establish a clear vision for digital transformation, but also execute with confidence and realize measurable results at each step of their journey.

With the promise of digital transformation, industries are in a pivotal and exciting time. Emerson is committed to remaining a strong partner to our customers as we forge a path to the digital future. This new business is an important step in that journey.