Yesterday I traveled to Milwaukee, WI for the IoTTC 2019 Annual Meeting. The 2-day event, jointly hosted by University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and Rockwell Automation brought together a group of thought leaders to share insights, research, and best practices around the human side of digital transformation. Attendees represented a cross section of the very best from academia, industry, and government, all with unique experiences and viewpoints on the changing competitive landscape being shaped by the Forth Industrial Revolution. At the conclusion of day 1 we have already been given a lot to think about.
Day 1 kicked off with a brief introduction to our venue for the day, the brand new Lubar Entrepreneurship Center, by Brian Thompson, LEC Director and President of the UWM Research Foundation. The modern layout of the 24,000 sq ft building with floor to ceiling windows was a perfect setting to hear from our first presenter, Dr. John Carrier, Sr. Lecturer of System Dynamics at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Titled Winning the Fire Drill: Technology Adoption Drivers in the Era of Industry 4.0, Dr. Carrier presented a multi-faceted series of considerations, examples of technological adoptions gone wrong, and a systems level view of responses to stifled innovation efforts. Now primed for an afternoon of engaging discussions with leaders from a variety of forward looking organizations, a short networking break provided the perfect opportunity to take everything in and make connections with fellow IoTTC members.
Following his announcement of a $1.25 million grant to support UWM’s Connected Systems Institute Brad Smith, Microsoft’s President and Chief Legal Officer, took to the stage. Highlighting the need to develop strong partnerships and entire ecosystems to remain competitive, there was clear alignment to the multidisciplinary collaboration focus of the Connected Systems Institute and their work to optimize Industry 4.0. At this point a clear theme was developing, one that stressed the importance of understanding your organization a part of a much broader system of increasingly interconnected people and devices. I immediately thought to myself ‘What better way could there be to fully experience this new imperative than by interacting and learning with peers who are leading the way in doing just that?’
Up next Andy Noronha, Director of Cisco’s Office of Inclusion & Collaboration; Senior Research Fellow, Global Center for Digital Business Transformation; gave us even more to think about. Building on the global success of his 2017 Axiom Business Book Award winner Digital Vortex: How Today's Market Leaders Can Beat Disruptive Competitors at Their Own Game, Andy provided proven strategies from his latest book Orchestrating Transformation describing how to deliver exponential value with a connected approach to change. Andy, clearly thinking about things from a much broader systems-based perspective posited:
“The piecemeal strategies and pilot projects that are hallmarks of conventional transformation programs are hopelessly inadequate for the intricate, sprawling organizational environments found in most companies. Transformation practitioners need a different mindset and a new approach to executing change that can handle the complexity and scale of today’s market leaders. Orchestration— “mobilizing and enabling so as to achieve a desired effect”— paves the way for a new, more holistic view of organizational resources and how they work together to drive change synergistically.”
Finally, addressing the “how” of Digital Transformation the “Transformation Orchestra” provided a framework to address the increasing complexity associated with such an endeavor, while the Digital Response Strategy Playbook details a multi-step strategy playbook for managing amid digital disruption.
Attendees of the 2019 IoTTC Annual Meeting, now armed with a new way of thinking, and the tools required for success during this 4th Industrial Revolution, were now well positioned to answer Rockwell Automation Senior Vice President, Connected Enterprise Consulting, Bob Murphy’s Call to Action for Digital Transformation.
“Data exists everywhere throughout our operations. But are we getting the most out of it?” Bob asked. With a wave of new affordable smart connected devices becoming available and the increased ease of communication between them the competitive advantage driven by access to technological innovation once held only by the organizations with the deepest pockets will soon be in jeopardy. This also provides for a new basis of competitive advantage, one based not commoditized technology, but instead, one which is secured by access to the human talent required to utilize such technology. Bob saw this within his own organization and explained “We were data rich, but analysis poor.”
Recognizing that full scale digital transformation is just as much a human activity as it is a technological one, and that the benefits of new innovative technologies will require human ingenuity to be fully unlocked, the new Rockwell tagline ‘Expanding Human Possibility’ seems entirely fitting. It was also a fitting way to end day 1 of our 2-day event. I can only imagine what tomorrow has in store for us!