Five myths about digitalization in industry
1. “It needs to be disruptive!”
The most common definition of disruptive digitalization is that it goes against the company’s current business model, even cannibalizing on the existing business. However, the bulk of industrial enterprises are still working hard to get the basics of digitalization right. Getting industrial machinery connected, selling equipment and parts through online channels, and cranking up internal efficiencies with the help of analytics are obvious starting points on the digital journey. None of these initiatives need to be disruptive, but instead should be highly aligned with the existing businesses.
2. “Being agile means max 3-month projects!”
Digitalization is not only about innovation and building quick prototypes. Getting things globalized in an industrial context can easily take 3–5 years. If your attention span is only 3 months, you are in for a rough ride! This doesn’t mean you cannot apply lean-agile development principles – quite the contrary. By using Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), for example, you can run global, complex, multi-year development programs in a very agile mode.
3. “Fail fast!”
Why would you want only to fail? The idea is not to fail fast, but to learn fast. Yes, success requires vast amounts of iteration, and iteration requires failing many times over. But unless you learn something from the failures and start applying what you have learnt immediately, failing is pointless.
To me, this idiom sounds too much like an excuse for giving up early. If you are convinced there is significant value to be created, you should continuously learn and persist, not just fail fast and bail out.
4. “Today, every company is a software company!”
This is only a half truth. To me a software company is a company that gets the bulk of its revenue from selling software. For an industrial company that sells billions of dollars’ worth of hardware, turning into a software company is not feasible. Of course, digitalization will help to sell a lot more of that hardware at a better price, and this will absolutely necessitate applying information technology and developing new software. And perhaps there is pure software revenue to be expected down the road too. However, this does not make every company a software company – just like being highly present in all digital marketing and sales channels does not automatically make you an Internet company either.
5. “If we don’t do it, someone else will!”
Let’s face it – not every digitalization idea is going to be a great one. A typical stumbling block is that there is no viable way to monetize the idea. If you absolutely cannot find any good business case for building something, perhaps it really is better to let someone else do it. After all, what sane business leader would commit to a permanently loss-making business based on an imaginary threat? Besides, you should constantly have more than enough fresh ideas in your digital development pipeline that can provide tons of business value. Start working on those.
To see a glimpse of Metso’s digital journey and how we are busting some of the above myths, see our Digital Metso video here.