Blog by: Wilhelm Swart – Chief Operational technology (OT) Officer – 4Sight
Technology companies love solving problems. And the better we get at addressing our customers’ challenges, the more we see their companies thrive. The current business environment is one in which industry leaders and CEOs are all looking for digital solutions. 4Sight’s OT cluster prides itself on supplying world class solutions for our customers. This places us in the fortunate position of being able to see the results our solutions bring to their businesses.
The reality is, however that not all companies reap the same level of benefit from digital solutions. Technology is only one piece of the puzzle. The other pieces revolve around people and management. No matter how good your technological answer is, if it’s not accompanied by good management, the solution might fail.
Maximise the benefits of your digital solution
Exposure to hundreds of companies has taught me a few fundamentals concerning how to ensure that digital solutions provide maximum benefit. These are all people-oriented management approaches, and here they are:
Are you TALKING implementation or are you DOING implementation?
Very often when digital solutions fail, it’s not the fault of the technology, but a failure of the implementation. Many companies spend a lot of time drawing up strategies and documentation for implementation. The structure then remains top heavy and doesn’t trickle down to the factory floor.
Management needs to ensure that implementation moves out of the boardroom and permeates every inch of the organisation.
How long is your company’s long term?
Long-term planning – Every company implements a new five-year plan – every two years. One of the problems is that solutions accrue incremental benefits that compound over time. Today’s companies want to see an almost instant ROI. When talking about long-term strategy, companies need to define timelines clearly and set realistic goals. But most importantly, they need to make minor changes all the time, instead of abandoning programs and implementing new ones every two years.
Continuous improvement versus bursts of improvement followed by long declines
Continuous improvements mean 365 small steps every year. It does not mean one large step every month that moves too far too quick for employees to catch up. If you are not getting better every day, then you are not simply “staying the same”, but you are deteriorating relative to your competition. In the long term, this decline will swallow your entire enterprise.
Management mobility as a cover up for short-term damage
The mobility of the management class has released managers from accountability and also incentivises short-term gain over long-term improvement. Most managers arrive at a new job and immediately start implementing changes to raise sales or cut costs.
Their six-month results look good because the damage they are doing has not yet worked its way through the system. Before the 2-year results are in, these individuals have moved on, and a new manager has taken over, implementing a new solution. But in fact, they are only repeating the previous process.
Employee buy-in also remains low, because they know that before the year is out, all these changes they are required to make, will be replaced by an entirely new set of changes.
Maintenance and implementation must be part of the culture
Unless your organisation implements technological solutions throughout the organisation, your efforts are doomed to underperform. It must “soak” into every individual who makes up your company. As long as it remains something they do intermittently and half heartedly, benefits will remain below expectation.
However, when you implement solutions so that it becomes part of your culture, success is sure to follow.