Helping companies identify key elements for their digital transformation

Dortmund | 25. April 2016

Discussions about the digital transformation often quickly digress into philosophical speculation. However, decision makers must set the digital direction for their companies in the here and now. Digital service provider adesso AG explains how, in three steps, it can identify the key elements – the so-called objects of interest – for a successful digital transformation.

The digital transformation is causing a fundamental shift in our social world, and our economy and society must adapt to those changes. While it is important and proper to consider current developments, those discussions offer little concrete guidance for decision makers at companies. To ensure that your products and services remain relevant to customers in a post-transformation world, you should start laying the foundations now.

That means you must analyse and evaluate the various drivers of digitalisation. To systemise and simplify that process, adesso recommends that you consider the digital transformation from the perspective of “objects of interest”. That is the basis for a three-stage process, which will help you identify the key elements for a successful digital transformation.

1. Understand the objects of interest: Objects of interest include physical and virtual objects, as well as people, that could be integrated directly into business processes and have the potential to simplify or speed up those processes. Examples include a machine that automatically reports your raw material requirements to your ERP system, triggering an order, or an insurance policy holder who measures their sporting activity using a smartphone app that provides the information to their insurance company’s bonus system directly.

2. Tracking the objects of interest: Once you have established a basic understanding of objects of interest, the next step is to systematically locate them at your own company. You will be able to recognise a number of those objects at a glance, while changes to processes, products and customer expectations may make others more difficult to identify immediately. That means you need targeted analysis to determine all the relevant objects. The “Interaction Room for Digitalization Strategy Development” (IR:digital) is a suitable project tool. The use of maps within the Interaction Room allows the project team to visualise physical objects that are capable of producing data and making it accessible.

3. Selecting objects of interest: Once the overall population of objects of interest has been determined, our experts must filter them to identify the ones that are relevant to business processes, that can be used legally and that could be productive. That process involves examining potential points of interface with other objects and the life cycles of the respective objects. When the objects are people, then questions about data protection must be considered. Next, the project participants must assess the technical conditions relating to the eligible objects of interest and determine ways in which the data they produce could be used in business processes. The objects of interest identified in this way are the ones the company could profitably integrate in its business processes.

“Companies that consider the digital transformation from the perspective of objects of interest, and that systematically analyse their situation and environment, have a significant advantage in the implementation process. They can rapidly and precisely identify areas where it is worth investing additional time and resources,” says Prof. Dr. Volker Gruhn, Chairperson of the Supervisory Board of adesso AG and Chair of Software Engineering at the University of Duisburg-Essen. “Those decisions are not based on gut feeling or vague as-sumptions – instead they rely on knowledge about interactions at the level of objects of interest.”

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