There is great excitement across industries about the impact that digital technology will have on business operations. However, there is less clarity about exactly what the digital revolution will mean for the way companies do business.
While it is clear that embracing digital will be a prerequisite for success in years to come, “what being a digital business means is multi-faceted”, says Ben Kirk, a Director of Business Development in Atkins’s Infrastructure division. “There is a heavy dose of technology, obviously, but there is also a lot of disruption.”
Some of the signs of the digital revolution are obvious, he adds, “such as the greater availability of smart mobile devices and data, but it is also manifesting itself in the tools used to help organisations become more efficient.”
The less obvious side of this revolution is the need for businesses to evolve in order to get the most from the technology on offer. Organisations cannot simply bring new technology into an existing business and expect it to change everything for the better.
The business itself needs to adapt in a variety of ways to get the most from technology, and, more importantly, to achieve even more successful commercial outcomes.
So while organisations are waking up to the fact that the advent of digital opens up new opportunities, they either don’t know where to start or they don’t know how to progress, says Phil Gruber, Atkins’ Global Leader for Digital Asset Management. “Many companies have spent a lot of time and money on this and the results have been mixed,” he adds.
If we look at the technology, there are a number of clear issues with which companies are dealing. Information is regularly held in a variety of formats, says Kirk: “Companies often have a patchy mix of tools, ranging from a software programme to spreadsheets to documents gathering dust in a filing cabinet. The Holy Grail is to get to a situation where all the data is in one place and the person responsible can access and use the data to achieve more efficient outcomes.”
Companies are, however, harnessing digital in more creative ways; for example, utilities are not only using outage management systems to monitor when the power goes off, but social media too – often comments on Twitter can be the first indication of a problem.