Covid has accelerated pre-existing business trends – a view that has been well-trodden in recent months. Particularly spurred on by the pandemic was the shift to digital. After decades of cautious development of digital infrastructure, 2020 has seen rapid uptake of new technologies in order to survive the effects of Covid-19, by driving innovation, streamlining operations and enabling business agility.
While most still haven’t realized the full potential of the Internet of Things (IoT), 2020 has acted as a galvanizing force. It has spurred digital adoption to build resilience and the ability to monitor, diagnose and maintain operations remotely, in case of further shocks to the market.
Investment in digital tools alone, however, is no longer enough – complete connectivity between, and visibility of, a facility, cybersecurity and physical security, sustainability, operational efficiency, and the workforce, is a necessity. Without it, the myriad of technological systems will prove ineffective, and decades of investment will be wasted.
This level of connectivity and understanding is difficult to achieve. Rapid changes in technology, budgetary challenges, a scarcity of talent, and the increasing frequency of seismic market events make navigating the new era of digitalization incredibly challenging.
To improve cybersecurity, efficiency and sustainability and build long term resilience there are five key lessons:
Look beyond current skillsets
The digital transformation journey is not straight-froward. Making positive progress challenges organizations to assess their internal skills and abilities and to understand when and how engaging external expertise is appropriate. Consequences are extremely high when organizations are not able to protect people, data, and operations. Cybersecurity, personal safety, and data security are therefore clear priorities. On top of this, expertise across a broad spectrum of other operational efficiency initiatives is equally essential.
Although some initiatives stand out as immediately compelling, the reality is that many are intertwined, making them equally important and challenging. An honest look at internal capabilities, external resources, and ways to leverage a combination of both is a good step toward tackling initiatives.
The common debate around whether to tackle initiatives with internal or external resource is often approached with a over-generalized view —meaning that some companies fall into the “do it yourself” camp and others default to hiring a third-party services provider to handle. A better way to approach these decisions is to assess whether the in-house skills have the right level of expertise. Then determine whether the tasks are making the best use of internal skills. In many cases, internal roles can perform higher-value work if an outside services resource is leveraged.
Many perceive risk in hiring a third-party firm because they fear this may result in layoffs. But in reality, a company’s health is often dependent upon having skill sets that aren’t in its core competency.
Nurture collaboration between facilities and operations
Physical security and data security are inextricably linked with facilities and operations management. As operating technologies are infused with connected products and digital platforms, the facilities and operations organizations become an integral part of cybersecurity and physical security.
Protecting the organization requires adhering to strong processes. It also requires advanced expertise and the ability to continually revise these processes, which will challenge the limits of internal staff resources.
An organization’s security depends upon including the firm’s facilities and operations management with the same level of rigor as its IT and communications infrastructure. For these digitally transformed environments, it is essential to include facilities and operations leadership in decisions that impact the physical aspects of the organization. Often, services organizations can develop and maintain best-in-class processes to ensure security.
Empower management flexibility through technology
One of the key trends over 2020 has been reducing onsite numbers. Engaging with third-party services can raise the fear of bringing new people into the facility who could present risk.
Embracing remote management systems can alleviate this. The growth of and expansion to new locations and the increasing digitalization of facilities, as well as the move to remote working, will make managing them a lot different in the future. Consider new ways of managing that rely on data-driven decisions. Shifting to digital services is a major transition for organizations, especially mission-critical facilities that have built their reputations on their ability to protect physical facilities and ensure resilient operations.
As proactive and predictive maintenance technologies mature, they bear consideration as they have the potential to reduce or eliminate downtime. And when downtime does occur, operations can be restored much more quickly. Having trust in the provider that the technologies are secure is an important consideration.
Identify shared goals
Different roles have very different perceptions of how difficult initiatives are. For example, C-suite executives were most concerned about security threats to their infrastructure, while procurement manager, director, and VP roles indicated challenges to improving environmental impact/sustainability and finding the right talent to service new technology implementations as key concerns.
Leveraging an external services provider can be helpful in making progress on common objectives.
Choose specialist partners
In the digital transformation journey, enterprises are faced with the dual challenges of innovating their operations and maintaining their existing infrastructure. It is vital to share these hurdles with a partner that understands the specific trends and challenges faced by your industry, with 89 percent of customers reporting that having access to this kind of partner service helped achieve business objectives. With this knowledge of the industry, the right partner will be able to introduce relevant and effective technology, processes and talent to augment your current talent and operations infrastructure. For every industry, there are unique challenges that can turn into obstacles if not fully comprehended. Specific operational challenges, regulatory and compliance demands, and environmental conditions exist for each sector. Finding a solution for these is not a one size fits all process, with the nuances of each individual company needing consideration. By using a partner that has a deep understanding of your industry and operations, an organization can speed time to value and avoid potential pitfalls by leveraging the collective learning of their partners.
- Collaboration technology is the driving force for productivity and businesses need to embrace it....Now
David Pownall, VP Services, Schneider Electric