Are Digital Transformation Initiatives Stalling?

In this edition of the Field Service News Think Tank Sessions, our focus was on digging deeper into a finding within a recent FSN Research study that revealed that 57% of field service companies surveyed stated that while they were able to access asset data, they felt they were not leveraging that data effectively.

 

As always in our Think Tank sessions, this initial starting point for the discussion led down many interesting avenues of debate, all of which are summarised in the executive briefing report currently available for a limited time on our forever-free FSN FREE subscription tier.

 

In this feature based on a section of that report, we shall look at how the data uncovered by FSN Research tallies well with several other data sources when it comes to the success rates of data-led digital transformation projects, and we discuss why the lion’s share of such projects appear to be failing.

 

When the conversation within field service turns to the value of asset data, invariably, we talk about digital transformation projects. However, the reality is that the overwhelming majority of such projects appear to be taking longer than anticipated and, at worst, failing. Multiple respected data sources indicate that this is the case – but why? And perhaps more importantly, how can we ensure that our organisations don’t become another statistic in the negative column?

 

As Sumair Dutta, Senior Director, Product Marketing – Customer and Market Insight, ServiceMax, explained.

 

“Some research done by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) showed that roughly only 30% of digital initiatives met their objectives and goals. Some of the reasons for these failures are because these initiatives are being undertaken at an enterprise scale, yet different business units and how they execute such projects remain siloed.

 

“So while each organisation is on the surface driving towards a set of digital outcomes, there is no true unity between the different business units.

 

“One of the concepts we have been exploring for some time now is that of ‘asset data gravity’, which is where the data that is captured from a machine, from whichever source, be it manual or automated, can then be shared and collaborated on across the organisation with different business functions. Could this be the lever that can drive some of these initiatives forward? Can asset data used in this way be the unifying thread across departments for digital transformation projects?

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“There are definitely, some more mature organisations that are doing a really good job of sharing and collaborating on that data in this way. However, there are equally a number of companies who continue to run to the silos. The critical question is why?” - Sumair Dutta, ServiceMax

“There are definitely, some more mature organisations that are doing a really good job of sharing and collaborating on that data in this way. However, there are equally a number of companies who continue to run to the silos. The critical question is why?” Dutta added.

 

There are, of course, several potential reasons this could be the case with any problem of this size; as Dutta alluded to, certainly the significant discrepancy between the scope and vision of the projects from an executive level across the whole enterprise and the reality of execution at the departmental level is often a major factor.

 

Indeed, the perspectives we adopt when viewing not only the over-arching aims of such data-led digital transformation projects but also their execution is something that needs to be tackled, argued Mark Homer, Managing Partner, Field Service Associates.

 

“One of the challenges is we always come from the operational side of the discussion when it comes to asset data, rather than from the corporate perspective that data is an asset – i.e. we don’t prioritise an economic understanding regarding the value of data.

 

“The issue is the way a lot of these transactional systems are explained, ultimately becomes the problem itself. This is because the sponsorship tends to be seen at the departmental or operational levels. Field service is something of an orchestration layer, it touches many parts of the business, so it has a genuine stake in many camps. However, the organisations that seem to have got to grips with this issue, the ones that really understand what data they have and how they’re going to use it, tend to look at the organisation as a whole or even the eco-system as a whole – so not just their organisation, but also its supply chain and its partners.

 

“I wonder whether that’s the point we should start at. Is data is an economic asset? I don’t think we really look at this question enough in terms of how we can see the inherent economic value of the data. If we did, perhaps then organisations would put the necessary resources and adopt the right enterprise strategies to truly benefit from the data they generate.”

 

Another factor that we must consider is that with an exponential increase in the data being generated, if we attempt digital transformation with outdated thinking and processes around how we manage and utilise data, then we are inevitably going to run into problems if not today, then in the not too distant future.

 

 

"I believe that as an industry, we need to start thinking about how to create multi-tenant environments..." - Rajat Kakar, Quickworks

This is at least the perspective of Rajat Kakar, Managing Director, QuickWork EMEA.

 

“To add to the data point that Sumair highlighted regarding the BCG study, there are a couple of other reports that show similar success rates in digital transformation projects.

 

“There is a McKinsey report that shows that around 70% of digital transformation projects will fail.

 

“There’s was also similar commentary from Gartner report which again showed that around 70 to 75% of such projects are failing. So it certainly does appear that there is a consensus amongst the major analysts on this point. It is therefore definitely one that needs to be considered especially when we factor in that currently almost the whole of the field service sector and indeed, the whole of industry at large, is investing very heavily in digital transformation.”

 

“As Chris [Hird] referenced in the introduction to today’s session, the current level of data generated this year is estimated to be 64.3 Zettabytes of data. In just three years, by 2025, that is predicted to more than double to 150 Zettabytes.

 

“That is an unbelievable amount of data, and we need to be able to deal with it, we need to be able to manage it, and we need to be able to run with it in a much smarter way. Data is absolutely going to be central to all industries and all economies, it already is, but the question we need to address is ‘are we prepared to handle and maximise the benefit of such huge increases in the volume of data?’

 

“I believe that as an industry, we need to start thinking about how to create multi-tenant environments.

 

“What a multi-tenant environment means is that, for example, in a set up where you have three systems, you have one area where data is coming from, and this data is then shared to a community of other devices or systems where the data is being sent.

 

“If we extrapolate this to an eco-system where fourteen systems are under the peer-to-peer connection, you would traditionally need ninety-one connections. In a multi-tenant space, you only need fourteen connections. This is why I think there needs to be a considered discussion around multi-tenant data solutions that make the process of managing data less demanding in terms of costs and compute resources.

 

“This might be one way of trying to tackle the business unit siloes often seen as a barrier to success for some companies regarding their effective use of data.”

 

As is often the case with the Field Service News Think Tank Sessions, there may be multiple ideas put forward as to how we can improve as an industry, each with its merits and potential hurdles to overcome. However, one thing is clear, and the group was able to find a consensus. While the focus on digital transformation across our industry is admirable, if we are to improve the success rates of such projects looking forward, we need to adapt our thinking.

 

If you wish to read more from the group on how we can approach this from a variety of angles, then download the full executive briefing now (available for a limited period on our forever free subscription tier FSN FREE)

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Data usage note: By accessing this content you consent to the contact details submitted when you registered as a subscriber to fieldservicenews.com to be shared with the listed sponsor of this premium content ServiceMax who may contact you for legitimate business reasons to discuss the content of this briefing report.

 


 

Many thanks to our Think Tank members present during this session. 

 

  • Sumair Dutta, Senior Director, Product Marketing – Customer and Market Insight, ServiceMax
  • Mark Homer, Managing Partner, Field Service Associates
  • Rajat Kakar, Managing Director, QuickWork EMEA
  • Chris Hird, Editor, Field Service News
  • Dave Hart, Managing Partner, Field Service Associates
  • Daniel Kingham, Vice President and Head of Service Innovation and Design, Elekta
  • Mark Homer, Managing Partner, Field Service Associates
  • Mark Wilding, VP Global Customer Transformation, ServiceMax
  • Terence Horsman, COO, Orca Service Technologies/MCFT
  • Clinten van der Merwe, EMEA Service Director, Smiths Detection

 


 

All members of the Field Service Think Tanks are speaking from their own personal opinions which are not necessarily reflective of the organisations they work for. 

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