How to Begin Your Hazardous Area Operation’s Digital Transformation - A conversation with OSIsoft’s Lance Fountaine
Aegex recently hosted Lance Fountaine, principal advisor for business transformation at OSIsoft, for our Aegex monthly webinar to discuss best practices for digital transformation in global enterprises, including those operating hazardous locations. Key takeaways from his presentation include:
- ‘Digital transformation’ offers tremendous value opportunity and competitive differentiation
- The ‘customer journey’ requires a comprehensive strategy that is aligned with existing company objectives, strategic initiatives and operating practices
- Ongoing success is driven incrementally through continuous improvement that effectively leverages people, process and technology
Aegex CEO Thomas Ventulett added that the first step in digital transformation could be running applications on an intrinsically safe tablet in a plant. Companies have seen up to 70% gains in productivity from doing this, as it leverages the power of software and saves time, plus validates data and holds field workers accountable. An intrinsically safe tablet with appropriate software becomes, then, the first step in digital transformation, changing how organizations operate.
Aegex followed up with Fountaine to get some additional thoughts on these audience questions:
- Q: If an organization has not already started their digital transformation, how far would you anticipate they are behind leaders in their respective industries?
A: I believe that many traditional industry and manufacturing organizations are just now getting started. The early adopters were IT, media, professional services and finance / business organizations. Without a doubt, the journey is much more complex in enterprises with a significant volume of process data. Even with this fact, however, a majority of industry and manufacturing companies are now starting to move forward with digital initiatives.
- Q. What do you see as the largest initial barrier to adoption of new technologies necessary for transformation?
A: In my opinion, the largest initial barrier is often the lack of a clearly defined problem to solve or opportunity to pursue. In many cases, the technology is being promoted and pursued by the IT-OT leadership and not by the business or operations. This lack of alignment can lead to funding and support challenges, as well as difficulties in capturing and communicating related success. Based on my experience, it is best to start with a clear set of business objectives and strategic initiatives as the justification for any technology investment. The technology should be recognized as the enabler and not the end solution.
- Q. Do you see IT (information technology) or OT (operations technology) driving digital transformation?
A: The way I would answer is that is “yes.” I see IT and OT driving digital transformation. The days of maintaining a separation between those has to end. It’s absolutely a requirement. Both sides have to own it and come together with common objectives. I see that challenge in many organizations. There just isn’t a good working relationship, and that has to change. Both sides have something to learn from each other. IT has to learn about the world of real time. OT has to learn about life cycle management and governance and security. They have to become partners in this.
- Q. Do we push IT or OT to do this digital transformation?
A: Both. They have to become partners. Both have a key role to play. The best success will come from working together. The best organizations are overcoming that hurdle.
- Q. Can people contact you directly?
A: Yes, there’s no problem for participants to reach out at their convenience. I’ve had the somewhat unique experience of being on the customer side and the technology provider side of this. There isn’t one answer. The best companies learn who their trusted advisors are, and together they take on this journey. We want to be our customers’ and partners’ trusted advisor. We will continue to seek opportunities to drive those opportunities and those relationships. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
for more information about how our intrinsically safe tablets and IoT solutions, along with our partner applications, are helping drive digital transformation in hazardous industries.