The process industries have demonstrated immense ingenuity during the pandemic. With little warning, major companies introduced far-reaching operational changes, accelerated their digital journey, navigated drastic shifts in supply and demand, and adjusted to unprecedented volatile market conditions. As we emerge from COVID-19, companies that adapted well will continue to benefit from the fast operational changes and digital technology they introduced in the past twelve months.
While we witnessed these undoubted successes, we see an opportunity for even greater gains ahead – the faster implementation and roll-out of new asset optimization solutions that generate far more value when we return to the “new normal” of the post-pandemic world. Most businesses want to accelerate those optimization projects to get them further ahead in value capture while retaining the gains they have achieved during the pandemic – because if they don’t, their competitive advantages may soon dissipate as others aggressively pursue profitability and sustainability drives through their own new asset optimization solutions.
Why are we saying this now?
At the onset of the pandemic, many companies suspended or postponed their asset optimization projects to focus on dealing with the more pressing impact to their operations. They had to adjust, react, and adapt instantly to the sharp shock wave that swept through their businesses. The immediate adoption of many workforce productivity tools and remote work practices was a necessity - there was no other way to do business or stay in operation. The modus operandi was to “survive.”
And yet, after this initial wave of changes, many asset-intensive organizations still hold onto the pre-pandemic belief that to implement an asset optimization solution only fully on-site, in-person work from the service provider can be effective. It has not become a prevailing view that today’s digital technology has enabled service providers to do work remotely with more agility yet without more risks. Many still believe that commissioning a digital solution inside a manufacturing facility must be done by the service provider in person, on site. Despite the success of introducing remote working for their own workforces, many are reluctant to accept the same practices for commissioning software for their manufacturing units. Even for those who are using remote implementation services today, some believe that is only “temporary.” Rather than embracing it as a new standard way of executing projects, they are still “waiting” for travel restrictions to ease so that work can be done onsite. Such project delays seriously prolong their time to value, and the software solutions that could have generated transformative outcomes by now may still remain ‘on the shelf.’
The result is that as the world emerges from the pandemic and industries prepare for new patterns of demand and a new playing field, some companies unable to avail themselves of the new software solutions will miss the upside of the significant market opportunities. While they are waiting and hoping for a return to the pre-pandemic normal, others have already moved full speed ahead. Those who are taking full advantage of today’s VUCA environment (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) are upping their digital games now to further optimize their assets, making them a much stronger player after the pandemic.
As the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation and virtual connectivity throughout the world, companies that still stick to the old practices of executing implementation projects are missing opportunities on faster value generation, possibly putting themselves at risk of falling behind competitively. Remote implementation is among such opportunities that can shorten the time to value and cut the implementation costs, and help you get ahead.
Of course, it would be naïve to dismiss the challenges of implementing new software solutions in industries of high complexity and low risk tolerance. Therefore, to make remote implementation successful, best practice project methodology and close collaboration between customers and service providers are as essential as digital connectivity and virtual technology. As a matter of fact, remote service providers can deploy most experienced experts from any part of the world to participate in the critical parts of a project, and can pull in specialists in real time depending on the problem areas and needs - professional services have become highly responsive and just as personalized as any face-to-face interaction.
Digital collaboration tools have changed the way everyone conducts business during the pandemic. This includes solution implementation teams. Through video conferencing and whiteboarding across secure connections and VPNs, service provider’s subject matter experts in various geographies can collaborate with customers to ensure every project detail and risk area is examined and addressed together. Cloud-based visualization and workflow management solutions ensure alignment and collaboration that are as effective as they are in person, perhaps only faster.
Service providers that excel in best practice standardization have project playbooks and processes to ensure that every step of the project is planned, from the initial kick off to the final project sign off. Those who have done projects remotely even before the pandemic have built up knowledge of what works and where to focus, including network risk and data security that must be rigorously controlled every step of the way.
Conducting implementation service work remotely is nothing new, and COVID-19 has accelerated its wider acceptance as a standard service delivery methodology. The agility, flexibility and cost savings achieved by doing so are indisputable. There will always be situations where face to face engagements are preferred, especially for large multi-vendor projects or for the early adopters of brand new technology where the best ways to implement are still being established. In those cases, a blend of onsite and remote engagements can work the best.
The world has changed. The drive for more and faster benefits at ever lower costs from your asset optimization solutions will only become more intense. Those who use new ways to quickly roll out their solutions will see value captured faster and their business more productive and resilient. Taking advantage of today’s remote implementation methodology is one way that will help you get ahead with agility and speed.