Digital transformation — where do we stand?

In the beginning, the development of the Internet of Things was all about connectivity to better link devices and machines that are equipped with sensors.

That made it simple to monitor, capture, and collect all the data that these networked devices and their countless sensors provided.

But a digital transformation and digital benefits are only achieved when the data undergoes intelligent analysis and triggers specific actions. The insights gained from the data can initiate actions that allow machines to keep running without problems for longer, reduce energy consumption, and ensure that exactly the required performance is achieved by rightsizing operations. Digital transformation makes the operation of machines more economical and efficient. This doesn’t teach the machines how they can keep getting better, but operators are able to leverage their knowledge to take useful actions. The analysis of data provides specific information on how processes can be optimized and which components and process steps should be redesigned.

The benefits of digitalization are evident long before operations begin, however. In the planning and design phases, time is saved through virtualization and simulations and the development of innovative, secure, and powerful products is optimized. By defining requirements and performance characteristics, the functionality of devices can be simulated digitally, automated, and optimized before final designs have been completed and production starts. Design flaws are recognized in the virtual model before expensive prototypes are created.

Digital simulations include large new fields of business for product development and optimization. They do require, however, extensive skills of the companies who provide such solutions. And this is not limited to the fields of automation, production, and sensors — we’re seeing this in IT and data analytics as well. Operational IT plays a central role in digitalization. It deals with practical aspects, ongoing operations. That’s why all analysis results have to be verified to rule out errors. The goal is preventing incorrect analog information being converted into incorrect digital information, which can have serious consequences. Vendors need to know most of all how companies and industries operate in the real world. They need years of experience in the industry and a very large installed base so they can develop appropriate solutions and give their customers guidance and relative insights on the path to their digital transformation.

Let’s write the future. Together.

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About the author

Reiner Schoenrock

I am the Head of Strategic Product and Innovation communications at ABB. Previously, I worked in various communication positions at Siemens and Infineon Technologies.
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