I wrote an article on day one of PTC’s LiveWorx19 event last week that discussed what I heard during the keynote: an acknowledgement of the complexity of the digital transformation journey. I find it refreshing when executives within the technology community seem to genuinely appreciate how significant of a shift is really taking place in service and own the fact that the transformation isn’t just about the technology, but about really re-engineering the business from delivering service to delivering outcomes. As Gentry Pate, Global Supply Chain Director at Dell said in his session on Monday, “To accomplish our objectives, we really had to change our DNA.”

Technology is, however, an undeniable aspect of staying relevant, remaining competitive, and acclimating to this new way of doing business. At LiveWorx19, it was said time and time again that Digital Transformation is not only critically important, but an absolute necessity. Throughout the remaining days of the event, I had the pleasure to attend several exciting keynotes and informative sessions and wanted to take an opportunity here to share how some of the attendees are tackling the challenge of Digital Transformation head on.

I spoke with Aly Pinder Jr, Program Director – Service Innovation & Connected Products at IDC Manufacturing Insights, who shared a number of important points in his session. “We can’t be good digitally by buying siloed technology to solve point-specific problems – there has to be a cohesive strategy,” he says. “Further, education needs to happen across the business on the move to outcomes-based service, not only within the service function. You will accomplish more if you create a strategy that service leaders advocate with all functions of the business.” I met with Aly after he delivered his insights and asked him his thoughts on what is the #1 barrier to Digital Transformation success. “Digital Transformation is both a complex, complicated journey and simple things we can do today,” he says. “Companies get hung up in trying to sort out the long-term, 10-year journey and fail to focus on the small wins that can be achieved now. Ultimately, success is a mixture of both – but you can’t let the overwhelm of the entire journey stop you from taking the first step.”

Digital Transformation is Both a Technological and Cultural Evolution

Larry Blue, CEO of Bell and Howell, echoed this sentiment when we chatted about his company’s use of ThingWorx IoT and overall digital transformation. “To succeed in digital transformation, you first need to understand what your true goal is – know what you’re working toward. Then I suggest starting with a small team and an initial project – don’t try to bite the whole apple all at once. Success breeds success, so if you can get an initial win you will be in a position to build from there,” he says. “Also keep in mind that this is both a technological and a cultural shift. It needs executive attention. There’s a saying, ‘People respect what you inspect.’ If you take the time to be personally involved, people take note of its importance.”

Consider your most practical path to Digital Transformation. When Dr. Maria Wilson, Global Leader Data Driven Advantage at Howden, joined Jim Heppelmann, CEO of PTC, on stage for his keynote, she said “We chose to stay focused on our core strengths, and built a strong system of partners for digital enablement. We’re using those digital tools, including IoT and AR, to deliver a better customer experience than ever before.”

So while Digital Transformation is certainly multi-layered and complex, LiveWorx19 was ripe with examples of companies making significant, impactful progress. As Peter Diamandis, MD, Founder, Executive Chairman, XPRIZE Foundation and Executive Founder and Director, Singularity University, said during his keynote, “When you’re at the top of your game and sitting pretty, it is really tempting to stay there. But you must question – not defend – your position.”

Sarah Nicastro

Creator, Future of Field Service