As the pandemic’s repercussions continue into the new year with ongoing remote work, social distancing requirements and disrupted supply chains, enterprises will need to adapt their processes to continue operations effectively across the value chain from product design to the plant to the end user.
As George Young, global managing director of Kalypso says, artificial intelligence (AI) will emerge as the standard for addressing these challenges by enabling an autonomous enterprise. According to Gartner, applying AI and data science-driven approaches is the key strategic trend across the board.
Solution to business problems
AI is the answer to several high-priority business problems. For example, as the focus on global sustainability increases amid climate change concerns, AI can be used to redefine the manufacturing process to reduce an organisation’s carbon footprint.
By automating processes, AI can eliminate a crowded factory floor to comply with social distancing requirements, while freeing up staff to focus on more high value projects and processes. AI models can even leverage product and customer data to adjust production and increase efficiency amid evolving conditions.
But as the enterprise goes automated, people must not be left behind. It is critical for organisations to consider how humans will interact with and leverage these new autonomous systems to prevent AI from failing. To ensure AI’s success, enterprises must take a human-centred approach to AI initiatives, understanding user needs and values, then adapting AI designs and models accordingly, which will in turn, improve adoption and increase employee trust in new systems.
DX is not an option
As digital transformation (DX) is no longer optional for success, digital and AI investments are likely underway across all industries, dramatically shifting processes, organisational structures, roles, responsibilities and technologies. But ultimately people need to be on board for digital and AI initiatives to reach their full potential, and proper change management is the most important yet overlooked aspect of any digital transformation initiative.
Key to getting staff on board is an organisational change management (OCM) team, a designated group responsible for shaping and driving digital transformation, bringing people along for the change journey, and setting the organisation up for measurable results.
However, OCM teams must not be treated as an afterthought to the digital transition, used to simply send out approved messages and provide basic training of a new solution they are likely unaware of if they were not involved in the process along the way. This yields a checklist-based, low-impact result.
Alternatively, OCM teams should be involved in defining, designing and/or rolling out the entire solution to make the reasons and rewards for change clear, which in turn, allows them to effectively communicate the project’s value across the organisation.
Being involved in the design process allows OCM teams to communicate potential risks, anticipate resistance and assess roadblocks from a user perspective. By understanding the user’s perspective, OCM teams can identify ways to enhance the solution to engage the user, simplify their lives and, ultimately, excite them about the solution’s potential.
Recent customer cases
One of our recent client projects involved workers in the field inputting job stats into a handheld device while they worked, but their gloves didn’t work with the touch screens. Our OCM team caught this in the define phase and advocated including a stylus with the device and adjusting the user interface (UI) to include bigger buttons.
Another client project involved a manufacturing company implementing connected tablets for workers to identify potential issues and address them in the field. As the OCM team anticipated resistance to new technology, they recommended adding a dashboard element which tracks each user’s metrics, encouraging users to compete against fellow team members on the number of issues addressed, speed of repair and more and offer rewards accordingly.
This increased efficiency while motivating users to adopt the new technology and progressively improve their performance. Tracking these metrics can also alert the OCM team when targets might not be met, allowing them to assist with improvement.
By putting the same focus on people and culture as the technology itself, enterprises will take the right steps for AI and digital initiatives to be successful. Investing time and effort into an effective OCM team throughout the digital transformation process ensures the investment in digital will pay off, while sustaining the implemented changes for years to come.
The author is George Young, global managing director of Kalypso
About the author
George has over 30 years of experience in business management and consulting, serving Fortune 500 brands across industries. Kalypso, founded in 2004, is a professional services firm that helps its clients discover, create, make and sell new products with digital.
On May 1, 2020, Kalypso was acquired by Rockwell Automation. George sets the strategic direction of Kalypso, leads consulting projects for name brands in the consumer, industrial high tech and life sciences industries; and works to build the next generation of Kalypso leaders by championing diversity and teaching leadership classes year-round.
Follow us and Comment on Twitter @TheEE_io