Industry 4.0 – Time to reassess business plans

Deeptha Sreedhar

Deeptha Sreedhar

I’m a Chennai-based Writer and Journalist. I handle the Digital Content for Appearition. My super-cool colleagues design, innovate and create magic in Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality. I use this space to present their magic in text. When I am not editing or scouring for story ideas one bit before hell breaks loose, I enjoy reading crime-fiction books and watching similar television series, do a bit of experimental cooking and some travel to wherever my bank balance supports upon paying all bills.
Deeptha Sreedhar

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Mouli Ganguly, Member, Board of Advisors, talks on Industry 4.0, Digital Transformation and more:

  1. How has market reacted to digital transformation so far? What are some factors that seem to aid it/ factors that act as a barrier?

Introduction of computers in the 80s and internet in the 90s were digital transformations (DT). These transformations speed up existing process in their own way.

Currently, with Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Mixed Reality (MR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data etc, we are heading to the third wave in digital change. With this change, content reach has become faster and more specific to the user’s individual & specific context.

There is a question of what is the hype and what is the reality? The hype is often an expectation that Everything will turn digital from day one. But the reality is it takes a long, long time.

Digital disruption is when the whole user experience changes. When you look at the current technologies like AR-VR, you are in an immersive environment. Second thing that changes in a business is convenience. It gets faster and better. Take for instance YouTube, people are not wholly dependent on it for video services. We have now got other video streaming options. From being costly and time consuming to produce a video, now they’ve become so simple.  Within a span of five years, existing technologies have changed so much.

In the residential space, AR-VR is already there. If you look at smartphones or movies, almost every movie has a VR effect in it. Whereas in the enterprise phase, it is happening far more slowly due to change management issues. There are whole lot of processes, policies, rules that play out. These multi-factor influences act as barriers, at times.

Take a look at this scenario:

On a personal level, if you see a 3-D glass that you fancy, you just go ahead and buy it and try it and see. But in the enterprise phase, we cannot change what we do on a day-to-day basis, immediately. It is a gradual process to adapt changes and involves formal change management. Enterprises don’t have individual decisions like personal buyer choices. A new technology adaption must act in a certain business standard. In an enterprise space, one person cannot just act on it or start using something. There are other people involved. This is a huge barrier in adapting or initiating digital transformation.

  1. If you were to chart a blue-print for an enterprise’s digital transformation, what actions would it typically involve?

Adapting new technologies to businesses happen if there is a clear benefit. Unlike personal choices, a business cannot adapt a technology or a process without a defined benefit. There should be a strategy or a growth plan that cites the benefits.

Benefits can be divided into three: Either the customer or staff experience the product or service delivers is much superior leading to increased loyalty and willingness to adopt from them. Since organisations measure customer satisfaction, this is an inclusive environment.

Next one on the list is Product or process improvement. Take for instance claims processing in an Insurance company. It is quite difficult organising in person, especially if the person has availed trauma insurance. In digital world, you can have number of different tools from virtual assistance to people working in collaborative environments to remote diagnostics with tele-medicine, all of these improves the overall process.

Enterprises must include the market & customer in its product development. It is easier to create a digital product. One can quickly create a product and launch it and test it as a POC (proof of concept), before scaling up or canning it altogether.  Therefore, the whole product cycle in the market is faster than before. Through failure, you learn, Fail fast and fail without incurring a high cost or brand damage and you will innovate with successful offerings.

Finally comes the cost reduction factor. Basically, several things drive digital adaption. You grow the experience, generate customers, grow staff loyalty and therefore get more market opportunities. You get market opportunities to get new products by reducing the cycle time to market, your process has changed, you change the format quickly. And as your cost reduces, you become more productive. This sort of drives some of the opportunity.

Now, what is the big risk that you face while doing so?

Benefits, use cases & training/change management needs are not clear. For instance, when we say I’ll improve the claims processing experience in an insurance company, one needs to clearly articulate what is the use case. What is the customer roadmap of journey? How the customer uses the new digitised transformational services that you provide. Then one has to map it all the way. At each point you have to state what is different. How or where will I be delivering this serviceand  how will the business be using it. It is not a technology or process issue. Business must very clearly define the benefits they will get.

Now, how do you do it?

Firstly, create a simple proof of concept. And these concepts have been around for a long time, but very, very quickly you spin something up, like Appearition is doing at the moment, we can create an experience for the customer to show them the actual benefits very quickly.

The next thing that comes is change management. You have to say, if we are going to do things differently, digital is to be applied on a day to day basis, how do you make sure that when either our customers or suppliers or staff use it, how’d they be trained, accept it and use it. And most importantly, everybody in the eco-system, i.e. the staff, customers, suppliers should be able to deal with the change. This change management leads to a fully functional prototype. Proof of concepts at a very low price, say 30-50k dollars, roughly, you show them how it is done, from there we move to a fully functional prototype. From the prototype, we get a use case development.

In our design we use tools like machine learning, artificial intelligence, data from Internet of things and analytics to continually improve the experience.

The last one, which must be designed in terms of the blueprint, is integration. Every organisation has a whole lot of legacies. Because, nobody is working in vacuum. The new systems have to interwork with the legacy in most cases. This becomes a difficult, costly & cumbersome process.

3. What are some of the opportunities and risks that enterprises will face whilst adapting it?

Whatever digital services one provides, one must draw the data from those existing legacies. One of the elements to add to the risk is realisation. Because, sometimes, some firms do not have a clear strategy on how they want to go digital. They just dump and start an initiative without a strategy. So, if you get an application up and running, it will look very nice and appealing to whoever designed it and they will think this will change the world. But if there is no change management to support it, the customers, the staff are not wedded to it. It hasn’t been well thought through.

 

Follow this space for Part-2 of this interview.