Getting the Most Out of Digital Transformation

Getting the Most Out of Digital Transformation
Getting the Most Out of Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is a phrase we hear almost daily at Seeq—and for good reason. The right digital strategies can enable process manufacturers to increase efficiencies, maximize productivity, and even reduce carbon footprints by as much as 50%.
 
In many ways, digital innovation enables fundamental process and business transformation, delivering wins for all involved. As companies work to adapt to COVID-19 procedures and remote working environments, it is more important than ever. However, achieving digital goals is not as simple as deploying new software, especially with a distributed workforce.
 
Today’s manufacturing operations are changing rapidly, and those changes have accelerated as more employees are working remotely. From automation to advanced analytics, they are using new technologies to optimize production processes and give employees access to tools anytime, anywhere. But technology is only part of the equation.
 
According to McKinsey, companies should not only invest in technology, but also continually invest in their people and empower them to use data and information for informed decision making. This exactly how Seeq is designed to work as a company, with Seeq the organization built much like Seeq the product.
 
Seeq’s advanced analytics applications empower teams to find and share insights, and the Seeq organization uses the same principles to be flexible, dynamic, and collaborative. But that didn’t happen overnight, and it required investment in people, and giving them the tools and skills to extract the most value out of technology.
 
So how does a company use innovation to enable its workforce so they can drive improved production and monetary outcomes? And how does that work in a virtual world? At Seeq, we’ve enabled our workforce using a connect, grow, and pivot strategy—and your company can do the same.
 

Connect

A connected workforce is critical for digital transformation (Figure 1). However, being connected is about more than being digitally linked. A workforce should also be connected by purpose, culture, and values. Employees need to be engaged with each other and motivated to reach shared goals, which can be difficult with newly distributed workforces.

Figure 1: With increasingly distributed workers, connectivity among them is more challenging.

In prior work models, employees were co-located or in cubicles all day, even when doing independent work. With today’s plethora of communications software—including email, Slack, Atlassian, Zoom, Dropbox, and more—co-location is no longer necessary for collaboration. To take full advantage of available solutions, companies should consider building remote-first work environments, with in-person options when needed, while enhancing employees’ digital skills with software that encourages collaboration across the organization.
 
While a connected workforce requires the right tools, how these tools are used is equally important. Seeq is designed for real-time collaboration. For example, by eliminating things like spreadsheets stranded on individuals’ desktops, Seeq breaks down silos and enables teams to see the same data at the same time—and work together to find a solution.
 
Beyond simply looking at the same screen or information, each employee can use Seeq in their own unique way to drive the business forward. This collaboration translates to improved productivity that directly and immediately improves operations. When employees see the differences they are making and realize that digital enablement is actually empowering, they become more motivated. When digital enablement becomes more than just a word, it bolsters digital transformation efforts.
 

Grow

Beyond connectivity, the Seeq organization helps employees grow their own skill sets. We put our values to work by supporting our people so they can develop themselves to be the best they can be. This in turn further develops Seeq as an organization primed to scale and support our customers’ growth.
 
For example, our employees can learn Python coding skills together in a virtual environment, learn more about cloud fluency, and acquire other skills—all of which enable them to adapt to working as a unique contributor within a distributed team. Not only does this drive better outcomes, but it is also another lever we can pull to attract and retain talent in today’s competitive environment.
 
We help our customers tackle the initial wave of improvements and productivity through our training programs so their teams can grow in their knowledge and drive towards asset, process, or plant optimization (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Seeq empowers employees to grow their skillsets.

Whether they are building predictive models to avoid costly shutdowns, finding new ways to improve asset utilization to increase production, or optimizing processes to increase margins and revenues, Seeq removes the burden of data management and empowers engineers and subject matter experts to do what they do best: learn, evaluate, replicate and review.
 

Pivot

Data and insights are the digital currency of today’s process manufacturing operations. In fact, IDC estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand for advanced analytics by 46.4 percent. One of main reasons for this is because we live in a dynamic world, so what worked yesterday may not necessarily work tomorrow.
 
In today’s uncertain environment, static strategies are dangerous because they do not keep pace with the numerous challenges faced by companies. Pivots are necessary, for example as when we completely pivoted our training strategy to be fully remote, while teaching our customers in a manner promoting native learning. Rather than duplicating the in-person experience, we quickly designed a remote strategy from the ground up.

Just like we pivoted our training strategies, our product is enabling our customers to pivot quickly, in time to make a difference. Seeq connects to data sources, regardless of where data is stored, and does not duplicate or move data, which enables faster enterprise-wide optimization and decision making (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Seeq connects to data where it resides, saving time when compared to solutions requiring data consolidation.

In addition, by comparing things like utilization, efficiency, cost avoidance, and many other factors across sites, Seeq is used to improve capital allocation and determine where to invest in new equipment and products. With anytime access to insights from across data sources, our users can pivot quickly, making data-based decisions in time to improve batch or process outcomes. 
 
Ultimately, building a workforce that is enabled by technology will allow process manufacturers to realize return on investment from their digital transformation strategies. By focusing on their employees and empowering them with innovative software, companies can give their teams the tools they need to connect, grow, and pivot.
 
Companies can give their employees the tools they need to increase quantity and value of production, reduce unexpected downtime, and reduce plant emissions. These engaged and motivated employees, equipped with the right toolset, can do amazing things.

About The Author


Dr. Lisa Graham, P.E., is currently the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Seeq Corp. Prior to taking on the COO role, she led the Analytics Engineering team at Seeq Corp. She holds a PhD in chemical engineering and is a registered professional chemical engineer. With more than 20 yr of experience across many industries— including pharmaceuticals, life sciences and specialty chemicals—Dr. Graham’s technical strengths include chemical engineering, product development and process model development. She has a strong business background established through executive level leadership positions, including COO and SVP roles at Bend Research (now Lonza) and Alkemy Innovation, which she founded. Active in STEM education initiatives, she has served as Director on the Oregon Governor’s STEM Investment Council and as Chair of the Oregon Board of Trustees for Oregon Tech University.


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