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7 digital transformation myths

Esther Shein | Dec. 7, 2017
A successful digital transformation can deliver significant rewards. But these common misconceptions can undermine your company’s ability to achieve desired results.

This is the time when savvy CIOs can resurface as saviors. “When times are tough everyone wants solutions, and no one wants broken processes on their watch," he says. CIOs can increase their influence in organizations that need help by leading major digital transformation efforts. “If they succeed, they can earn a coveted 'seat at the table,' Andriole notes. “Of course, if they fail, they could become a casualty of the very processes they're trying to transform."

Digital transformation works best when times are tough — not when everything's going well, Andriole says. “So in a twisted way, CIOs should be ready to move when stock prices fall."     

Myth No. 3: Digital transformation is about reducing the workforce

Digital transformations often make use of emerging AI and machine learning capabilities, leading some to believe that the end game of digital transformation is fewer roles for humans. But, as good as AI and machine learning might get in near future, you still need human beings, says Andy Bennett, senior vice president of IoT EcoStruxure at Schneider Electric, a Paris-based corporation that focuses on energy management and automation in buildings and other structures.

“It’s not a surprise, but I think the No. 1 thing that unsettles or at least contradicts a lot of the hype … basically comes down to humans in a myriad of ways,’’ he says. “Often you hear folks talk about this huge impact that’s going to take place with machine learning and ultimately will decrease workforces and drive efficiencies. That’s absolutely something I’m not seeing today.”

Instead, Bennett is seeing the opposite. The more automation and data analytics that organizations put in place, the more human beings are needed to drive the algorithms and understand what’s happening in complex buildings or manufacturing plants, he maintains.

There are “so many inefficiencies baked in” to connected devices that it is a fallacy to assume data analytics will enable quicker reaction time. “I find we’re almost going in the opposite direction,” he says. IoT helps us get better at finding information, “but you do need a lot of human interaction.”

When Bennett has conversations with CIOs, he says he finds there is an inherent belief that data analytics and AI will result in equipment not breaking or not needing to be serviced, which is not the case. “What we’ll be able to do is be more reactive; maybe get to things before they break, but you still need a person to show up at a plant and do something about it. I have the sense that that gets lost in translation.”

Myth No. 4. Digital transformation is all about the technology

There is a perception that businesses simply need to bring in new tools, models, and skills to compete on a new playing field, says Seth Robinson, senior director of technology analysis at CompTIA, a nonprofit trade association for the technology industry.


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