This year, I have visited several companies to talk about digitization, the Industrial Internet and the Internet of Things – or whatever it happens to be called in a given company. It is a wide subject and hard to get a grip on at first. While people seem to have read extensively on success stories around this topic, it still remains unclear for many companies how digitization could generate added value for them and their customers.
Not even half-way there
When you are faced with a new, complex issue, the natural response is to evaluate the situation and plan how to go about it. According to an old Finnish saying, with careful planning, the job is already half done. But would it be better to tackle digitization head-on? The time it takes to model a complicated system and design a comprehensive solution could perhaps be better spent by creating added value for end customers more quickly by introducing new, less extensive services that can be implemented over a short time span.
Often, the first digitized service is a result of some employee’s insight or feedback received from the customer. Unless you already have an idea in your back pocket, you may try to innovate using various facilitation techniques and service design tools in collaboration with your customers.
An idea or ideas selected in the process can be used to create a concrete prototype very quickly. From the company’s point of view, it is naturally important to determine whether the users find the idea useful enough to be willing to pay for it. The experiment may also spawn new ideas for developing the prototype further. A tangible product or service makes it possible to invite feedback from real-life users.
How to eat the digital elephant
Digitization is the new elephant of the IT industry. Probably everybody has heard the axiom that an elephant should be eaten one bit at a time. I would like to expand on this by stating that dinner should start with the tenderloin – the piece that the customer finds most delicious – and then proceed to other parts until the whole elephant has been eaten in a spirit of smooth cooperation with your customers.