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Digital transformation: So, you've transformed. Now what?

Digital transformation is still proving to be one of 2019’s most popular buzzwords, not only because of how essential it is for businesses, but because of where it’s still poised to go and its potential impact.

According to IDC, companies are predicted to spend $1.7 trillion on digital transformation by the end of 2019, a 42% increase from 2017. Organizations of all sizes and from a variety of industries are all still working to digitize their business operations. But the shift in culture toward increased digitization is proving to be easier said than done.

Many companies are starting to realize that the promise of running operations faster, easier and cheaper is being outshined by the need to drive real business value throughout the organization. In fact, less than 30% of digital transformation initiatives have been successful. So, how can companies find value or drive ROI from their digitization efforts?

The answer lies in the data. Organizations are no longer surprised by the capability to track utilization rates, energy consumption or other data feeds. Instead they are starting to realize that they can use these insights to make their people, resources and assets not only more efficient, but also more productive. Let’s take a deeper dive into how businesses can effectively draw value from their digital transformation implementation to begin seeing the benefits of a connected ecosystem.

Finding the business value

Change is always a challenge, and the large-scale shift toward full digitization across industries that we have seen in recent years has been no exception. Once companies have undergone their digital transformations and turned their organization into complex, connected technology systems, the process doesn’t stop there. These ecosystems now need to work to synthesize data collected from the various systems. This all helps ease the burden on facility staff and creates new value for building owners that never existed before, including new revenue streams.

For example, let’s look at a 30-floor office building that recently underwent a digital transformation and created a “living” building that can learn, advance and evolve. With this living building, a building owner or manager can now track energy consumption at a more granular level, down to each individual floor, and provide actions or insights into how that floor can better optimize their environment. This could be anything from dimming the lights in areas that are not being used to even setting up a timer or schedule for each floor to only run the lights during business hours. Multiply that level of optimization across all 30 floors and the building owner is not only increasing the sustainability level of the building, but also significantly reducing costs on energy bills.

These building owners and managers want their properties to work for them, for their occupants and for the businesses they house. This new standard should not be limited to simple building management, but stretched to achieving full optimization across systems because a more comfortable and controlled environment results in increased reliability and profit.

Investing in your workforce

In any industry, a skilled and engaged workforce is key to achieving an organization’s goals. This has held true during the process of digital transformation. Digitization is improving not just the function of equipment, but also the structure and needs of organizations when it comes to acquiring talent and building their management teams. As businesses go through digital transformations, they must invest not just in additions to their management teams, but also in robust talent recruitment and development at all levels to ensure long-lasting productivity and success. To prove this point, a seamless move through the process of digital transformation is over three times more likely when organizations invest adequately in digital talent.

Let’s go back to the example of the 30-floor office building. The building itself is optimized with the latest technology, but let’s talk about who is responsible for the performance of that technology for a moment. The facility manager no longer has to manually track usage, freeing up a lot of time to focus on key matters and learn to optimize the building’s energy performance in all kinds of new ways. The managers themselves, however, must be appropriately trained to work with new technologies for optimization, reporting and maintenance. This takes investment and time. For a successful digital transformation, it must be a high priority of businesses to invest in not just new technologies, but in the people or partner who will manage them for maximum productivity.

Where do we go from here?

In terms of the future of digitization, generating more awareness around the value that digital transformations can provide for organizations will lead to increased adoption of these systems. A building is no longer just a place to do business, but has become critical to how business is conducted. Understanding and embracing technology and its resulting data is key to this shift, as is having a skilled workforce able to effectively utilize and manage these systems.

It will be important for companies offering digital management systems to ensure that they are not only able to be implemented in new construction projects, but are capable of being retrofitted to work with existing building systems, no matter the industry. Being able to adapt to different needs for implementation of smart, vendor-agnostic technologies to meet customers where they are is what will, in the end, ensure long-term success.

Digital transformation will also have far reaching implications for the future of the workforce. Training humans to effectively work with new technologies so that both can perform at their best will take upfront investment if a business wishes to see its digital transformation succeed and get the best return on their investment.

Managers and building owners are beginning to see ROIs made from their smart building systems and can demonstrate the real advantages of optimization from the insights provided. As this awareness spreads, more organizations will continue to follow suit and learn how to fully use their new technology ecosystems and reap the rewards.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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