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Inductive Automation’s Jennifer Faylor wrote on the company’s blog some thoughts from last fall’s Community Conference about digital transformation tips. She notes that digital transformation is “unignorable”. Yep. Even I write about it, even though I think that it’s something that began many years ago and will continue indefinitely.

Despite the abundance of companies forging ahead with plans to digitally transform, there are some that remain a little lost in the weeds. And for those that are already navigating Digital Transformation adeptly, staying on the cutting edge of best practices is indispensable, to ensure you continue to create top-notch solutions.

Following is her compilation of tips.

1. Think Big, Start Small, and Act Fast

“When you start thinking about Digital Transformation, think big, start small, and act fast. … And the big one, I think, most people overlook is actually the acting fast. They get too caught up, or they think about this as a traditional, large, single-entity monolithic project or initiative, instead of a whole bunch of small, iterative, flexible, agile approaches to transforming the company.” – Jeff Winter, Industry Executive for Manufacturing with Microsoft

2. Prepare for Expanding Scopes

“A lot of times with these types of projects, as they expand, as the interest in it grows, the scope of the project grows. So really [it’s important] to define what our core objective is that we want to accomplish, once we meet that objective, add on additional features to it. Sometimes it seems like with these projects, they can balloon almost too quickly. If we can keep it focused on a couple of specific objectives and meet those, then we can take that and build upon it.” – Nate Kay, Engineering Manager at MartinCSI

3. Show How Easy It Can Be

“I think a big thing for Digital Transformation is oftentime clients are very shocked by how easy it is to implement some of the Digital Transformation concepts … and I think we need to continue to push customers to do things like proof of concepts, or really just see a demo for what their system could be. I personally think that the SQL Bridge Module is the most powerful tool, and that customers have been using bad tools for so long that they just don’t realize how simple it can be to capture data and do things like eliminate that manual report that they’ve been filling out for 15 years.” – Elizabeth Hill Reed, Project Engineer, DMC, Inc.

4. Flip the Process From “Push” to “Pull”

“As soon as you do the first line and you prove the data is real regardless of what the preconceived notions are of what the data should be, you turn from a push process, where ‘We’re from central office and we’re here to help,’ to a pull process, ‘I have a problem with another line, can you guys do what you did on that line over on this line?’ So as soon as that coin flips, you’re golden.” – Dan Stauft, Director of Operational Technology, SugarCreek

5. Follow the “4 Rights”

“[Get] the right data to the right people in the right place at the right time.” – Steve Chapman, Partner, Barry-Wehmiller Design Group

6. Embrace Your Role as an Educator

“As an integrator you’re also an educator, in terms of especially today in the space where you do have IT, OT … those are two different levels that for years hadn’t really talked to one another and don’t really know each other’s world. And so now they’re being forced to communicate with each other, and we’ve got to try to help educate them on what’s important to each other and why.” – Mike Ficchi, Senior Controls Engineer, Multi-Dimensional Integration (MDI)

7. Empower People on the Ground

“And the idea is, is that if you work with people on the ground rather than just [sending them] a memo, to say that we’re going to be putting in this system, speak with the people first, get their opinion, and ask them for input because now you’ve empowered them, now they’re part of that solution, and they feel like this solution is going to help them produce better, not this is just going to be some measuring stick as an excuse to get rid of people.” – Craig Resnick, Vice President, Consulting, ARC Advisory Group

8. Add Extra Value to Everything You Do

“For everything you do, give a little bit of value-added. Something new, something that they haven’t thought of, but something that’s going to give them information that they didn’t have before, or control of something, or view of something, or some new data that you’ve merged two bits of information to produce new data, data that they didn’t have before. And they will love that.” – Chris Taylor, Managing Director, BIJC Ltd

9. Remember: It’s a Journey, Not a Destination

“This process is a journey and not a destination. If you can help everyone involved understand that … ‘This is new, and you know what we’re going to celebrate the wins, we’re going to get better from the losses,’ because both of those things will happen on a journey. You have the highs, you have the lows, but if we all understand, ‘Hey, we’re marching towards this common end goal,’ setting those mental parameters is extremely beneficial when we’re trying to attempt and create really any kind of change, not just Digital Transformation.” – Reese Tyson, Ignition Team Lead, Flexware Innovation

10. Accept That the Solution is “Becoming”

“One very important lesson that we learned last year and have discussed a lot internally is that any solution is never really done. It continues to develop in different directions as new business needs arise with the clients, and we’ve learned the hard way that we have to stop talking about the delivery and instead accept that it’s only a delivery, one of many. And somewhere along the road, we realized that there’s a term for this, it’s the thinker Kevin Kelly who actually coined this, ‘becoming.’ So, things are just becoming, the solution is becoming, it’s never ending as such, it’s just becoming.” – Jan Madsen, Founder, Enuda AB

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