“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it.”– Abraham Lincoln

I’m guessing Abraham Lincoln wasn’t thinking about business, personal development, or even literal navigation. But his words have stood the test of time, and remain highly relevant in today’s complex global business environment.

We (Meridium, now part of GE Digital) have been in business for nearly 25 years, and I think it’s fair to say that every industrial company we’ve worked with has had similar intentions when it comes to choosing to deploy new technology—drive a better result.

Paving the Cow Paths

But around 2005, we noticed a growing trend among many companies.

They often began looking for technology to improve their businesses without addressing the underlying business processes, or their impact on desired goals. Some focused on features and functions rather than on business outcomes, and often ended up “paving the cow paths”—that is,automating a business process as-is, rather than designing effective, robust processes supported and enabled by technology.

To address this gap in understanding, we created a service engagement specifically to help industrials think through the key business drivers that lead to operational improvement. Over the years, some of the most common business issues we’ve helped address include managing risk, reducing unplanned downtime, improving asset availability, and lowering the cost of maintenance.

This capability has grown dramatically over the past decade, as we helped customers evaluate the maturity of their operations and processes, and understand what they could achieve through the adoption of effective technology-enabled practices. It’s hard work, and it requires in-depth analysis, but the customized blueprint for digital industrial transformation has proven to pay off.

Identifying the problem, creating a solution

You can think of our Digital Transformation Blueprint as the front-end engineering required for an industrial transformation initiative to be successful. This business-specific blueprint relies on close collaboration between us and our customers­—and a thorough exploration of their business objectives, capabilities, processes, culture, leadership, and vision.

This allows us to deliver a customer-specific plan with several key elements:

  • Industrial transformation readiness–Includes an assessment of the current maturity of the organization, its desired future maturity, and a review of benchmarks.
  • Outcome quantification–Outlines the benefits of improvement in terms of cash flows, business drivers, and process metrics.
  • Solution alignment–Defines the desired solution in terms of the processes that will be enabled by technology, and the associated metrics of success.
  • Technical architecture–Reviews the client’s infrastructure and environment to identify the effort required to successfully deploy the desired solutions.
  • Multi-Generational roadmap–Illustrates a phased approach to technology adoption that allows the customer to achieve their desired transformation as quickly as possible.

The question for most industrial organizations isn’t whether there is a need to adopt technology to improve business outcomes. The question many are asking is where do I start, how do I start, what does that path look like, and what are the metrics of success. All the right questions, to be sure.

For one thing, I’d start by learning more about our approach.  

Second, you can check out what GE has approached its own digital industrial transformation. Check out our playbook below.

Digital Industrial Transformation

Digital twin software to assist asset performance

Read GE’s Own Playbook

Industrial companies are entering a new period of explosive value creation. The rapid spread of digital innovation will reboot industrial productivity growth.


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About the author

Paul Casto

Asset Performance Management Principal, GE Digital

Paul is a leading practitioner in reliability and maintenance improvement methodologies. He has hands-on experience in reliability, maintenance, operations and engineering in the steel, aluminum,automotive, chemical, aerospace, consumer goods and construction industries. His current areas offocus include: value creation through reliability and maintenance, leveraging reliability to reduceoperating cost, the application of advanced reliability tools, integrating operations into reliability andmaintenance, reliability-based maintenance and shop floor culture change.

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