Just a short while ago, technologies were used in a limited number of public spheres. In today’s world, technologies are connecting people, things and businesses in all aspects of our lives. Once it began, this process has gained tremendous momentum and continues to do so.
Digital transformation is the incorporation of new digital solutions into all human activities. It profoundly changes the traditional models and creates a completely new ecosystem on our planet in which every object can be smart and connected to the global web. There are not only technical aspects of digital transformation, as most of us may think. Digital transformation also causes a cultural shift, because it changes the way people think.
Industry 4.0 and Smart Factories
The industrial society came out of the Industrial Revolution and has already passed three stages of development. First came mechanization with water- and steam-powered machines that replaced much of the manual work. During the second period — with electricity and the assembly line invention — mass production was invented and gained traction quickly. The advent of computers marked the beginning of the third stage of development when production robots began to replace human workers. Today, we are entering a new industrial age — Industry 4.0. In this era, we see how computers, robotics and machines are remotely connected together with the help of complicated algorithms and technologies, and perform various tasks either without human operators or with their minimal input.
Industry 4.0 creates the so-called “smart factory.” This is an enterprise in which cyber-physical systems are deployed in physical production processes in order to control them, make decentralized decisions, cooperate with each other and communicate with people remotely. The Internet of Things is one of the many digital transformation technologies implemented in smart factories. Digital technologies provide significant quality, time, resource and cost advantages.
According to Capgemini, smart factories are going to enable a sevenfold increase in overall manufacturing productivity by 2022. They have the potential to add $500B to $1.5T in value to the global economy in five years. Seventy-six percent of manufacturers either have a smart factory initiative that already exists, or are working on creating one.
Principles for Digital Transformation
The merging of technical, virtual and business processes creates a new type of systems and companies. They are considered Industry 4.0 and possess such properties as:
- Interoperability (machines, sensors and people are connected and can communicate)
- Information transparency (the system creates a virtual copy of the physical world, so the information is accessible to all team members)
- Technical assistance (robotics have the ability to make decisions, solve problems, support or replace humans while performing difficult tasks)
- Decentralized decision-making (the system is able to make simple decisions on its own)
To create such a company, you need to create your digital transformation strategy. Use the following principles:
- Focus on customers: the customer should be in the center of everything you do; before launching or modifying service, you should clearly understand what your existing and potential customers need.
- Collaborate and work across silos: create a cross-functional team instead of separating the team into isolated groups; this works best when sharing is fast and cooperative.
- Develop digital thinking across the whole organization: encourage staff to think digitally and suggest changes at all levels for better efficiency, because technologies for digital business transformation can’t be implemented in only one department.
Technologies for Digital Transformation
Let’s talk about 12 technology tools for digital transformation. Transformation of different industries requires different technologies depending on their specifications, goals and users. One tool can be applied in one specific industry, another tool suits a few different industries. We’ve roughly grouped the top technologies according to their purpose.
If your business is aimed at consumption, you should be available for your customers 24/7. Digital technologies facilitate communication and interaction between users and producers, help them find and receive information quickly, and keep them engaged and always connected.
1. Social media platforms
Social media is one of the best tools to surpass your competition and reach a wider audience. Today, it is a must for any company to have an active online presence on major social networks in order to become a recognizable brand in the market. Facebook, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Instagram, Skype, Viber, and many other social media platforms engage millions of potential and current customers around the world, erasing geographical boundaries.
2. Mobile/web applications
Web or mobile apps are developed for the sake of users’ convenience. Any application can be easily integrated with existing systems and quickly extended. Thanks to applications, a solution can be rapidly disseminated and become extremely popular.
3. User-generated content
User-generated content (UGC) is the phenomenon in which users promote a brand or a product themselves via blog posts, tweets, pictures, videos, etc. UGC is a powerful marketing tool for customer-orientated businesses in the tremendous world of the Internet. A great example of the UGC campaign was conducted by Coca-Cola.
4. Wearables & IoT
These are technology capabilities for the digital transformation of our homes, offices and daily life. Many people today own a couple of smart gadgets and cannot live without them. The wearables market is in its early stages of development and is dominated by health, activity tracking and interacting devices. The Internet of Things is going to expand at a fast rate in the near future.
5. Digital walls
Digital walls are interactive, customizable, multi-sensory displays of big sizes. They provide various kinds of information (educational, entertainment, branding, advertising). Digital walls are located in high-traffic areas (airports, shopping malls, amusement parks) in order to draw the attention of potential clients.
The IT industry needs digital transformation to perform more efficient software development and to enhance data security.
6. Cloud computing
It does not need to be said that the cloud is now mainstream for many enterprises. Remote data storage facilitates different processes and provides definite competitive advantages. Actually, the cloud is the foundation of digital transformation, as it offers the necessary speed and scale for this process. Cloud computing enables the IT industry to develop, deploy, deliver and scale quickly.
7. Big Data analytics
Specialized systems and software drive the process of Big Data analytics. It is the examination of huge data sets in order to find out market trends, correlations, customer preferences and other underlying trends. Complex algorithms process data and generate meaningful information. IT specialists use this technology to help enterprises be more informed and make decisions with the use of the most up-to-date information. Big Data analytics consists of 6Cs:
- Connection (sensor and networks)
- Cloud (computing and data on demand)
- Cyber (model & memory)
- Content/context (meaning and correlation)
- Community (sharing & collaboration)
- Customization (personalization and value)
8. Open-source software
The term “open-source” means that software is designed for public access and everyone can access it and share it. Programmers can inspect, modify and improve the program by adding some features or fixing parts that malfunction. Community-generated software follows the principles of open exchange, rapid prototyping, transparency and collaborative development. Open-source software is a great tool for a quick digital transformation.
9. Artificial intelligence
People mostly associate artificial intelligence (AI) with human-like robots. They do exist, of course, but AI is much more than that. Autonomous vehicles, weapons, searching systems, security systems, personal assistants (e.g. SIRI) — all these developments refer to artificial intelligence. Today, there exists narrow AI that may outperform humans at some specific tasks (e.g. solving the equation, playing chess, driving a car). In the future, researchers are planning to create strong AI that will be able to exceed humans at nearly all cognitive tasks.
For the Physical World
By the physical world, we mean production and manufacturing, logistics, medical care, service industry and so on. Organizations involved in these activities don’t operate purely in the world of information. They interact with reality. But they are still highly connected with digital technologies, and they undergo this transformation. So, the real world is being influenced by these technologies.
10. 3D printing
This technology is actively used in manufacturing to produce ordinary three-dimensional objects using computer control. A 3D-printer is able to create a great variety of things — from small household goods to vehicles, prosthetic devices, and even food. 3D printing is an incredibly useful technology that can be applied in various areas.
11. Driverless vehicles
In the near future, we may definitely see driverless cars in our cities. By now, the leading automobile companies such as BMW, Audi, Ford and General Motors are developing autonomous cars and are already carrying out tests on the streets and highways. All that a human needs to do is set a destination. Then the software calculates the route and starts driving. While en route, it monitors the space around the car, creates a dynamic map of the current environment with the help of video cameras in the streets and inside the car, and calculates the distance to obstacles. Still, the human is able to take control of the vehicle. Such a car with embedded software is a promising solution that will be able to eliminate accidents caused by driver errors, reduce traffic jams, improve traffic flow and increase highway capacity. Driverless cars can be used to deliver goods at long distances and let drivers have a rest.
12. Drones & robots
Robots are now common practice at many industrial sites around the world. They increase productivity and make the manufacturing process easier for people. They are applied in such hazardous production facilities as mining, oil and gas extraction, and chemical production, in order to enhance the safety levels for workers, and reduce industrial accidents, injuries and even deaths.
Drones are the next generation of robots that possess even more opportunities and can bring new efficiencies. As they are battery-powered and operated almost autonomously, drones can be effectively used in logistics and, avoiding road traffic, make deliveries faster, cheaper and in an ecologically friendly manner.
Technologies for Digital Transformation
|For Customers||For IT||For the Physical World|
|Social media platforms||Cloud computing||3D printing|
|Mobile/web applications||Big Data analytics||Driverless vehicles|
|User-generated content||Open-source software||Drones & robots|
|Wearables & IoT||Artificial intelligence|
As we have shown, modern information and communication technologies are greatly changing the industry, business, and life in general. If you want to keep pace with this transformation and bring your business up to speed with the developments, choose Sam Solutions as a reliable IT-services and software provider.