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From Aspirational to Practical: Making Digital Transformation a Reality

April 12, 2021

By Stuart Harris, Group President, Emerson Digital Transformation Business

Digital transformation is a common buzzword touching every aspect of the business world, but for many it remains only a vision, lacking a clear plan and confidence that the desired business results will be achieved. But digital transformation does not need to be a lofty and abstract idea. There are practical, proven approaches to make it a reality, and companies moving forward in this way are realizing value today.

At its core, digital transformation is using technology solutions to rethink processes, empower people and reach higher levels of performance. The best digital transformation initiatives are scalable, achievable and driven by a clear, identified business need.

We know because we see it every day. Emerson is working with customers across industries, helping develop and implement digital transformation initiatives to solve some of their most pressing operational challenges.

Emerson's leadership in this space has been recognized twice in as many months. We were grateful to be named IoT Breakthrough’s “Industrial IoT Company of the Year” for the third year in a row in January. Our Plantweb digital ecosystem has been named a finalist for the Edison Award’s Innovative Services category.

When you consider that digital transformation initiatives are expected to take large companies twice as long to implement and cost twice as much as anticipated, the need for the right partner becomes even more critical.

This right partner must bring a mix of deep industry knowledge and domain expertise, reliable and proven technology, and a nimble approach to the rapidly changing world of software and analytics. Emerson has been investing internally and through acquisitions to enhance and keep building our strong software and analytics portfolio.

We’ve been working with customers on digital transformation since before it had a name, and we’ve seen repeatedly how a practical approach – one that generates short-term wins with measurable gains that can be replicated for an enterprise-wide impact – is key to success in this evolving landscape.

But how do you take a concept as big as this and make it practical and actionable?

  • As with any project of any size, start with the goal in mind. While many digital transformation initiatives start with technology, the successful programs start with a clear business goal – know what you want to accomplish. An advanced digital ecosystem like Plantweb empowers companies to build incrementally, with targeted solutions to overcome known issues.

  • Put your data to work. With the right tools, a company’s vast array of operational information becomes powerful, informing more effective business decisions. Emerson’s operational analytics portfolio, the industry’s most comprehensive, enables companies to optimize their operations in the areas of safety, reliability, production, energy and emissions. Solutions range from easy-to-deploy analytics that immediately provide insights into asset health, to comprehensive software platforms that combine collaboration tools with AI and Machine Learning to solve even the most advanced operational challenges. Digital Twins of plants, pipelines and oil fields enable companies to simulate operations to optimize production, train operators and drive new levels of performance.

  • Empower your workforce. Today’s manufacturing roles require knowledge of technology, engineering and data science to guide organizations to success. Solutions like Plantweb technologies and services are equipping teams with the insights they need to make better, more informed decisions. Our applications are designed to facilitate work process changes and engage the workforce – a critical element in digital transformation.

  • Multiply your successes. Too often, companies undertake digital projects to solve a specific problem, without thinking about how to scale these solutions across their facility or enterprise. The big gains that are possible with digital transformation are typically the sum of dozens of initial wins that are effectively scaled and replicated. For example, a $50,000 annual benefit on an individual piece of equipment can be replicated to 1,000 assets across the enterprise to realize a $50 million annual benefit. This approach builds return on investment, maintains momentum and keeps digital transformation investments on track. 

As the industry continues to invest in digital transformation initiatives, it is critical that these deliver a timely return on investment and achieve the expected business benefits. Having a partner – one that can guide you on your digital transformation journey, bring the right technologies and services, and implement the solutions – can mean the difference between success and failure.