At the end of November, we attended GE’s annual Minds and Machines conference in San Francisco. Lots of use cases were presented and exhibited throughout the conference, which showcased the journeys of early adopters towards digitization. It was evident from everything we saw, and the numerous conversations we had, that the question is no longer about whether digitization leads to better customer experience and higher productivity, but it is about how a company can achieve it, and how it is able to translate the customer journey in its own context.
The basic argument for digitization in industrial companies is to gain transformational improvements in productivity and substantially reduced unplanned downtime of assets. GE (along with a bunch of other companies such as Cisco) has been at the forefront of not only developing its capabilities in this area organically, but also in acquiring companies with complementary capabilities to accelerate and establish its position as a leader in this field. While a lot of the buzz around digitization in the industrial sector tends to be around use cases such as the predictive maintenance of highly capital-intensive assets (such as aircraft engines, turbines, etc.) one of the most interesting (and somewhat unexpected) insight for us was in seeing the vast array of business opportunities that can be captured even with the descriptive and diagnostics-related use cases. We saw numerous such use cases presented at the conference that have led to significant outcomes already, such as:
- Dashboards for remote monitoring of the health of several wind energy farms centrally
- Identifying anomalous operations in process plants remotely and executing remote diagnostics
- Identification of parts inventoried across businesses that had similar metallurgy and dimensions despite having different part numbers – leading to consolidation of inventory and lower working capital
- Creating fingerprints of machine parts over their lifetime, so that they can be replaced quickly when needed for repair
- Workflow and knowledge management systems presented to maintenance crew in a portable fashion, so they could consult manuals faster and comply with norms
This implies that, even if a medium-sized industrial company is, say, not on the bleeding edge of technology adoption, it doesn’t need to hunt for the big predictive and prescriptive use cases in order to start taking a few baby steps on its digitization journey. Even simple projects such as visualization of KPIs, collection of disparate datasets in one place, reporting of operational health, and basic diagnostics can create valuable insight for the company. These small and quick wins can provide a wealth of information to plant managers and business planners, thus enabling them to make better decisions. Of course, the larger effort for such a company is still in creation of the digital assets. This journey requires C-level buy-in, a cultural shift at all levels, a recognition that the shift will bring tremendous value, identification of the right platform, development of the road-map for the journey, and creation of the IT infrastructure.
While GE provides the technology, platform, consulting, and enterprise-grade apps for industrial companies to help optimize their supply chain, asset performance, capital and operating spend, Evalueserve can help the digitization of industrial companies through understanding the customer journey, identifying customer needs/gaps, and thus help prioritize between different digital products. We can also help with go-to-market research for the commercialization of a digital product. Further, our analytics-driven solutions, which are designed and delivered by our team of 400 data scientists working with our domain experts, have already delivered our industrial clients significant business outcomes in areas such as KPI visualization dashboards, future capacity planning, manufacturing cost optimization, pricing and discount optimization, product demand forecasting, spend analytics, logistics and network optimization, inventory optimization, operational planning support, capital asset resource allocation, and pre-emptive maintenance of assets. Finally, over the last 12-18 months, several industrial companies around the world have also engaged Evalueserve to help them solve a wide-variety of business problems like:
- Asia-related research – Understand the market landscape, competitive scenario, trends, projections, business models, regulatory scenario, and scouting for M&A targets in Asian countries
- Finding tactical growth avenues through customer data analytics – Customer segmentation; lifetime value determination; cross-sell / upsell recommendations; addressing undesired attrition; pricing optimization
- Innovation scouting – Help companies in their innovation journey by scouting for complementary and competing technologies, thus creating an archive of innovation ideas by beneficial attributes
- Adjacency identification – Identifying adjacent markets, channels, or products that can complement the current portfolio and model to create further avenues of growth
More details about Evalueserve’s broad portfolio of technology-enabled research and analytics services for various functions at industrial companies can be found here.