Escaping from digital transformation pilot purgatory

All too often, initiatives get stuck in a pilot phase. In order to achieve success, firms need to address both strategic and execution related barriers

JP Provencher
By JP Provencher on 24 November 2020
Escaping from digital transformation pilot purgatory

In our conversations with customers, analysts and partners, it is clear that companies are accelerating investments in digital transformation. Early movers and adopters have realised significant benefits. In a report by the World Economic Forum, lighthouse implementations from at-scale deployments yielded double digit improvements to the key performance indicators that were driving those projects – things like factory output, inventory levels and lead time.

The current business environment is making these initiatives more critical. In the face of the global pandemic, companies that focus on improving efficiency or using digital transformation to drive cost improvements, stand to improve their competitive advantage as this ‘new normal’ emerges. However, many are not realising the benefits fast enough. Instead, three­quarters of digital transformation projects get stuck in ‘pilot purgatory’, thus failing to deliver the desired transformation. 

Companies get stuck in pilot purgatory due to a number of factors. It might be that initial pilots are technology-led rather than value-led. As a result, there is a lack of clarity to financial impact of these investments. Complex legacy environments are also a problem, since a multitude of controller types, systems and software creates implementation complexity across sites. As if this wasn’t enough, poor access to data makes information difficult to access and contextualise.  

Companies need to take a different approach to align initiatives to business impact and break through pilot purgatory – one that quickly collects and contextualises information, works with your existing tools, leverages domain expertise to accelerate time to value and is enabled by a modern infrastructure.

Announced in July, Factory Insights as a Service addresses both the strategic and execution-related barriers that cause companies to get stuck in pilot purgatory. This software-as-a-service solution enables manufacturers to achieve unprecedented impact, speed and scale with their digital transformation initiatives. It offers industrial customers a leaner, accelerated approach that vastly reduces the effort associated with setup, integration and validation for the top factory digital transformation use cases.

Factory Insights as a Service includes key product components from PTC and Rockwell Automation’s FactoryTalk InnovationSuite and leverages domain expertise gathered from hundreds of implementations. It uses Microsoft’s cloud, the industrial internet of things (IoT) and edge services including Azure IoT Hub and Azure IoT Edge, enabling manufacturers to rapidly connect individual sites and implement projects across their enterprise network. In as little as three months, companies can build a digital transformation foundation: providing insights to performance, assets, and the workforce. As a result, companies can improve time to value and scale digital transformation across the enterprise. 

JP Provencher is vice president for manufacturing strategy and solutions at PTC

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This article was originally published in the Autumn 2020 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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