Precision as a Competitive Advantage in Digital Transformation
Throughout history military leaders have suffered through the “fog of war,” where they desperately sought answers to six key questions:
• Where are my enemies?
• Where are my friends?
• Where are my forces?
• Where are my materials and supplies?
• What capabilities are available now and at what location?
• What are the environmental conditions?
These “unknowns” impacted the strategies and tactics military leaders employed. Their time and energy as leaders were heavily focused on defending themselves against these unknowns.
But while military leaders of the past were limited by human constraints of perception and location, that’s no longer the case today. With sensors, wireless networks, mobile technologies and analytics and artificial intelligence the “fog of war” can be greatly reduced. Precise real-time data from around the globe can be instantly aggregated, analyzed and results reported. The resulting reduction of unknowns, release leaders to focus more attention and creativity on developing strategies and solving problems based on knowns. This is an important development in history.
Sensors extend our senses beyond our physical reach and act as our digital nerves. These new capabilities significantly impact how businesses can operate, and offer new opportunities for competitive advantages for digital leaders.
W. Edwards Deming, the father of quality improvement, once said, “The biggest problems are where people don’t realize they have one in the first place.” These “blind spots” – the unknown status of a process, schedule, delivery or available materials, for example – should be a relic of the past. Today, we have the ability to remove conjecture and work with precise data.
Many companies have yet to evolve from legacy business models based on the “unknown and imprecise” and continue to throw good money after bad by following “estimate-based” models. Many companies have yet to implement a comprehensive sensor based digital nervous system. As a result, these organizations have yet to update their strategies and tactics to support new models of real-time precision. Ignoring today’s “revolution in precision” is unacceptable, and would be like a manufacturer ignoring the “continuous quality improvement” movement in manufacturing. Leaders must recognize both the micro and the macro-trends impacting their markets.
Deming also said, “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” Taking advantage of precision is a must if surviving is in your plan. As automation increases due to advances in sensors, bandwidth, artificial intelligence, algorithms and machine learning, precision becomes not only possible, but necessary.