Adoption of digital transformation strategies across organizations has accelerated in the wake of COVID-19, as end users are forced to become more competitive and deal with a changed work environment. Businesses have been restructured and new ways of collaborating and communicating have emerged. This was the main theme at the 25th ARC Industry Forum in February, which was hosted virtually for the very first time this year. Although the Forum could not be held in person this year, the digital platform provided us with a unique opportunity to access a wider global audience to interact and share information with.
On the second day of the Forum, a highly informative panel discussion on user experience in digital transformation followed keynote addresses by Herbert (Bert) Vander Elst, Senior Director of IT for Manufacturing and Supply Chain at GSK Vaccines and Ralph Rio, Vice President, Enterprise Software, ARC Advisory Group. ARC President and CEO Andy Chatha invited Eckard Eberle, CEO of Digital Industries Process Automation Division at Siemens, and Greg Vigil, Director of Industry Solutions at Microsoft to join the panel. The discussion centered on the theme of the Forum: Accelerating digital transformation in a post-COVID world. The discussion provided many good insights on how industry leading end users implement digital transformation initiatives in their organizations.
Accelerating Customers’ Successful Digital Transformation Journeys
Eckard Eberle of Siemens said that these are challenging but exciting times to be working in and that digitalization is speeding up processes for their customers. During the pandemic, work from home (WFH) became the norm, making remote connectivity and accessibility to plants and information essential. As teams began to collaborate virtually, efficiency levels improved, and Siemens was able to support and contribute to speeding up vaccine development processes at GSK Vaccines. Greg Vigil of Microsoft said that the company’s mission is to empower organizations and individuals to do more. Microsoft offers a broad platform, and Mr. Vigil outlined the capabilities of Microsoft’s dedicated team to help the manufacturing sector embark on digital transformation initiatives.
Lifecycle Management of Digital Twins
The current focus of GSK Vaccines is on research and development – a proof of concept based on novel technology (microfluidics). This is a nascent sector, so presently there is no long-term experience in maintaining digital twins, said Mr. Vander Elst. In a digital twin, data analytics is the key, and encompasses feature engineering, model management, refreshing models with new data, and more. Lifecyle management of digital twins is a continuous loop that must be controlled to take actionable decisions. Eckard Eberle added that there are two types of data – operational data and updated data from engineering. He spoke about deploying artificial intelligence (AI) in brownfield installations to gather data (often paper documentation) and bring it into the system to enhance efficiency. Ralph Rio interjected that the benefits of the digital twin should be continuous. Only then will end users support and maintain it.
End User Advice on Deploying Digital Twins
Mr. Vander Elst said that his advice to end users on deploying the digital twin would be, “focus on the value areas and start small and work in an agile way.” Ralph Rio recommended to start with small data, such as data for a particular piece of equipment, making it easier to develop the math algorithm or machine learning, and identify and fix bad data quality. This approach is right in most cases, said Mr. Eberle, “but sometimes the bigger picture is required.” In this context, he cited the example of a customer in the petrochemical sector who wanted a complete digital twin of all the processes involved to improve performance and quality outcome.
Digital Transformation Challenges for End Users
The digital transformation journey has its share of challenges for end users, explained Greg Vigil of Microsoft. Customers are advised to think big, start small, and go fast. The targeted business outcome is evaluated and then the technology is deployed.
Panelists emphasized that technology is only part of the equation. People, capability, willingness, process simplification, and adopting a multidisciplinary approach are also required. When work from home became the norm, the focus was on business continuity, connectivity, monitoring, and communicating. IT/OT integration is vital, and companies are making attempts to bridge the gaps. Earlier, there was fear about data privacy, acceptance, and other concerns, but now companies have realized the benefits of seamless integration. Integration between MES and ERP was also discussed.
ARC Advisory Group clients can view the complete report at ARC Client Portal
If you would like to buy this report or obtain information about how to become a client, please Contact Us
Keywords: ARC Industry Forum, Digital Transformation, Post-COVID, Panel Discussion, ARC Advisory Group.