Businesses are under pressure to adopt industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 solutions to compete in a connected world. However, there is no secret that far too many of these IIoT initiatives fail to meet expectations.
Common causes for this failure include introducing new technology to solve what are primarily people and business problems and failing to sufficiently consider customer needs – whether those customers are external or internal.
It’s those internal customers we’re concerned with here. Well-meaning IT innovation groups with a “try new things and fail fast” mindset often find themselves at odds with operations managers who are locked into fixed production goals – and hesitate, understandably, to put existing systems at risk.
A people-first approach
Better business outcomes arise when IT leaders view operations teams as customers to be served, and the following best practices can help businesses surmount the challenges:
The question, then, is how to shoulder this responsibility. We believe it makes sense to think of IT innovation groups proposing IIoT projects to the business as startup-like teams within the organization. As such, plant managers, equipment operators and other facility stakeholders should be viewed as their target market.
With this framework in mind, digital innovation teams must work harder to communicate with and learn from these customers – those whose productivity they seek to improve with their solutions. IT innovation teams must get inside their operations compatriots’ heads and truly understand existing workflows, requirements, constraints and dependencies.
Putting it all together
Ultimately, the goal is a partnership between IT and operations that is based on trust and transparency. It is a shift in mindset that welcomes iterative thinking and a focus on discovering and delivering value.
Both groups – operations teams focused on the production line, and IT innovation groups charged with creating and implementing IIoT projects – want what’s best for the enterprise. But too often, we see their worlds collide. IT innovation leaders must take the first step toward working with their operations counterparts to keep their business on top in a connected world.
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