Digital Transformation: The Road to Enhanced Performance
Digital transformation programs are often viewed as a path to keeping a business relevant in the face of increasing change and new competition. For many organisations, however, digital transformation also creates opportunities to enhance the performance of an established business. Here are two examples of how digital transformation can increase performance while keeping on top of industry change.
An innovation agency pays digital dividends
Recognising a number of digital trends were set to disrupt its industry, the global insurance company, Euler Hermes, established a small team tasked with exploring digital trends and opportunities.
With support from the CEO, the Euler Hermes Digital Agency (EHDA) began working on digital products and services with a view to developing innovations and enable the Euler Hermes core business to adapt quickly to future challenges.
Euler Hermes Head of Digital Agency for APAC, Caroline Paulhan, says as trade remains very paper-based, insurance depends on manual processes, but a number of digital trends are already changing the industry.
“These range from digitisation, which reduces the risk of errors and paves the way for AI-driven decisions, to API-driven processing,” she says. “We knew if we didn’t change rapidly we could be left behind.”
As teams saw the strong value the Digital Agency was adding to the core business, EHDA’s team has now grown to 50 people around the globe.
Paulhan will be speaking about digital transformation at the upcoming 2018 Schneider Electric Innovation Hub Business Forum in Sydney.
“We are getting more requests to solve business pain points and this helps overall business performance,” Paulhan says. “The beauty of having a dedicated team for digital transformation is you can move quickly to anticipate trends. It allows us to get projects off the ground faster to iterate and test ideas continuously”.
Holger Schaefer, Euler Hermes CEO for APAC, adds: “It was a very important investment for us in APAC to be setting up a digital team, and first results are very promising. For instance our Data Lab is already significantly redesigning some of our key underwriting processes with the help of machine learning and AI.”
One example of an EHDA-developed product that is now making its way into the parent business is an application programming interface (API) to bring an insurance offer down to the individual invoice level. This can be used to provide “single invoice” insurance coverage to a customer.
The Single Invoice Cover API can be plugged into an existing website, to insure an invoice at the time when the transaction is being concluded between buyer and seller.
To ensure the success of a new incubator business, Paulhan says maintaining an ongoing relationship with the rest of the business is important.
Entrepreneurial business units need to ensure the team doesn’t see itself as isolated as there will come a time when it needs to hand over a project, she says.
“It is important to train people internally so they are familiar with upcoming trends. This keeps staff informed and improves collaboration,” she says.
Paulhan recommends being prepared for challenges with legacy systems and cultural change, particularly in relation to workplace demographics.
“Many challenges relate to communication therefore it helps to make a digital transformation initiative as transparent as possible,” she says.
A visual approach to digital transformation
In addition to startup initiatives, today’s 3D and visualisation technology can be applied to increase the performance of digital transformation.
Dassault Systèmes Senior Sales Manager, Business Transformation, Craig Bradley, says there are huge opportunities for 3D visualisation technology to be part of a digital transformation program.
“If you don’t have 3D visuals you can’t make decisions in terms of how objects interact with a design,” he says. “Visualisation is not just about exposing information. By modelling things in the 3D world you are continuously making better decisions about digital transformation. If something can be referenced it can be visualised and acted upon.”
For digital transformation to deliver optimal performance, the context of the data needs to be considered when making decisions across a range of applications, from manufacturing plants to smart cities.
For example, visualisation and augmented reality can provide a system to “walk through the plant” and make decisions on operations.
Digital transformation with visualisation technology brings a range of industrial and asset performance benefits, including maximising asset availability by reducing unplanned events, including downtime.
“Once everything is connected you can see a maintenance schedule connected to a workload schedule,” Bradley says. “This helps optimise resource utilisation and extend asset lifecycles.”
The technology can also improve safety and reduce errors. Maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) work can be simulated in 3D to help ensure the procedure is done safely and the work instructions are communicated.
Organisations with fixed assets can create a digital “twin” which not only replicates the dimensions of the physical system, but can provide real time operations data that can be acted upon.
“Internet of Things [IoT] and sensor data can be read in the visualisation and measurements through valves and systems can be taken,” Bradley says. “Related information, such as how parts were installed, can be integrated to trace replacement parts from a supplier.”
Visualisation also helps team members collaborate in real time by improving visibility over “who does what” on projects and operations works.
“Proactive maintenance avoids failures and works out any potential downstream events,” he says.
Australian companies have a number of options for integrating visualisation technology into existing operational processes.
Bradley is seeing many businesses retrofitting 3D visualisation into plants which were not designed with the technology in mind.
“It would have been better to start with visualisation from the beginning, but it is possible to scan the facilities and match it back to the materials in the plant,” he says.