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Digital transformation in bold font on a blue and black bacground
Written by Jan Kaempfer - Head of Marketing for Panasonic System Communications Company Europe

Delivering change at the sharp end

Making digital transformation faster, simpler, and more aligned to business goals

Digital transformation is a concept where the specifics are hard to nail down. Sure, most enterprises are doing it to varying degrees - 70% of companies claim to have a digital transformation strategy in place (or working on one), while 21% believe they’ve already completed the journey. Equally, more and more CEOs are confident enough to say that digital improvements are helping increase profits (56% according to Gartner).

But few activities actually start out with the goal of delivering ‘digital transformation’ per se. Instead, they focus on a specific business need: a strategic requirement with a particular output in mind (i.e. ‘enhancing customer retention’ or ‘boosting productivity’). In other words, digital transformation ultimately comes down to solving business problems. It’s about delivering measurable process improvements, and doing so from a position of ‘constant optimization’.

a lady in a hard hat with line drawings of technological innovations

Finding the right answers

Explored in the recent Panasonic webinar Digital Transformation – Is Your Business Ready the first questions that should initiate any transformation activity are simply: “what are you employees currently doing that could be done better?” and “what do they need to work in a more efficient and productive manner?” 

Finding the answers is the difficult part. That’s because any solution also has to be sympathetic to the wider trends faced by businesses today:

  • An aging population (and resulting skills gaps)
  • Growing digitisation across all core processes
  • The diversity and complexity that exists within different industries

Then there’s the recognition that individual markets are also going through fundamental change, inspired by IoT, big data, and cloud. Yet above all this come more immediate day-to-day concerns:

  • What can be done to help improve workflow efficiencies?
  • What scope exists for delivering process automation?
  • How can we optimise the end user experience?

It’s finding solutions to these challenges, and more, that makes digital transformation a business imperative. This is also the driving force behind Panasonic’s own transformation from a hardware business to a holistic solutions provider.

 

Focusing on the immediate 

Let’s offer up an example of digital transformation in action. This relates to the materials sorting process, and a customer with a problem that many can associate with: they’ve invested huge CAPEX into expensive machinery but are struggling with an inefficient manual operation, increasing work volumes, and the need to maintain trained staff.

What digital transformation means here is a solution built around Visual Sort Assist: 

  • This is technology that can be used to identify individual packages on the ‘receiving’ conveyor belt (through barcodes)
  • Employees now just need to pick the materials, rather than trying to quickly identify what each box is and where it needs to go
  • As a result the whole process can be run faster, thereby improving customer delivery times and reducing worker stress
  • Better still the solution can be deployed quickly, thereby enabling clients to make the most of existing investments – while avoiding the financial impact of pursuing full automation

This brief example helps convey the true essence of digital transformation – the ability to focus on a pressing business challenge, identify performance improvements, and introduce them at speed. Yes, such activity should occur under the aegis of a wider business strategy – but one that emphasises the importance of making immediate gains, with easily measured value.

 

Keeping things simple

For Panasonic, traditionally a hardware manufacturer, change has been inevitable. Devices obviously remain critical, and the more practical and intelligent these are the better. But customers are increasingly turning their attention to the data, and the capabilities needed to collect it, analyse it, and offer meaningful recommendations as a consequence.

In response, we’ve invested considerable time and resources into creating an additional layer of software and services. A comprehensive ecosystem of tools and solutions that operate to one primary goal: simplifying mobility. We want to make it easier for companies to build, deploy, run, and manage applications irrespective of operating systems, software lifecycles, or back-end systems. 

Such agility and speed to market is essential, however, the true breakthrough outcomes are only achieved when this agility is married to simplicity. For example, we know that:

  • Custom software development typically requires a huge amount of time before any end result is ready for deployment
  • All businesses can call upon multiple data sources for their insights, but these need to be accessed and integrated if they’re to be of any use
  • The ‘IT debt gap’ continues to grow, meaning business expectations for innovation are outpacing IT’s capacity to deliver them

To sustain digital transformation into the long-term, organisations need to be thinking about enabling fast, software-driven development that delivers results in weeks – while also removing as much manual intervention as possible.

Enabling this is the purpose behind such Panasonic innovations as TOUGHBOOK Omnia.

This is a solution that supports the fast design of custom apps that can be applied over multiple devices within your business. With simple drag and drop functionality, you can build capabilities for handling processes such as logistics inventory handling – and have them live within weeks.

Deliver fast. Deliver at scale. This is the Panasonic approach to digital transformation, and it makes for an exciting future.

The Panasonic webinar "Digital Transformation – Is Your Business Ready" is now available on-demand.

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