Digital Transformation of EHS – Product Safety Stewardship Processes

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Introduction:

Recently the term Digital transformation has been used widely to refer to different things. When we refer Digital Transformation, it means different for different people. When some look from the perspective of business it means new way of doing business, innovative way of engaging customers or even way to reduce the costs of operation. When the same is looked from a perspective of technology it means ability to make use of emerging technologies like cloud, Big data, IoT, Robotics etc. When the same is seen from a commercial view, it means opening business without any capital expenditure or even service-based management using subscription methods

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What are Digital Technologies? :

These Digital technologies are infact giving the abilities of humans to systems like the ability to Sense, Think, Connect, Communicate, Visualize and finally to act. These very abilities can be elaborated as Sensors, big data analytics, Mobility, 3D printing, Social Media and even Robotics.

Sensors are giving the ability to have real time monitoring and control with the ability of being linked to internet so that they can upload data that they sense for further processing. When it comes to managing the analytics, the big data tools like Hadoop and others are changing the amount of the data that could be processed and nature of the data being analyzed. Mobility is the ability of the computer systems linked together to share their resources and to allow electronic communication. Some of the terms like PAN, LAN for networking technologies, M2M or even Wi-Fi or Zigbee are heard in the community to refer to such technologies. The technologies around wearable devices, haptic devices to enable virtual or augmented reality and autonomous technologies are other technologies being heard in these days.

What is Digital Transformation:

The challenging questions now when it comes to digital is how the businesses will manage their business once being digital, what are the changes, what will be new products or services or even how will the business run in such conditions. So, the obvious question is what digital transformation is, when it comes to organizations. It is nothing but moving the organizations from a conventional operational level to a new level to deliver competitive advantage making use of all the digital principles discussed above. Based Leading Digital book by George Wassermann, the different elements of digital transformation include i) Customer Experience ii) Operational processes and iii) Business Models. Based on the famous book by David Rogers, Digital transformation is not viewed as technological changes but is a all about strategy, Leadership and new ways of thinking.

There are many examples given to highlight the digital transformation like cases studies around Encyclopedia of Britannica, Blockbuster, Kodak, Digital Equipment Corporation and also cases around music industry so on. It is easy to relate these developments when it comes to understanding traditional product evolution like smart products which has inbuilt sensor systems with ability to provide real time insights like sensor systems used for Precision Agriculture systems, which operate on a continuous basis with connected network. Similarly, it is also easy to visualize how the digital technologies are disrupting the automobile sectors like Uber or Ola, and hotel sector for Airbnb. Given these highlights it is very much evident that products are becoming services, products are moving into platforms, which run into subscription models, on demand model so on.

What is the trend for EHS Digital Transformation:

When it comes to managing the digital transformation to services around EHS. It needs a careful analysis in understanding how best the technology can be used. There are some uses discussed in previous blogs on use of Data Science and IoT technologies for managing the operational risk management. In the current blog I would like to discuss how to manage Product Safety Stewardship processes using the Digital transformation. I would like to follow the methodology provided by Wassermann and identify the pillars of digital transformation.

Pillar 1: Customer Experience

Using Social Media it is possible to assess the details about the product you are selling and how those products are perceived by the customers. Key information around uses, misuses and other insights about the environmental / sustainability perspective about the products can be examined. Details around customer view on what are the other product features they wanted to see in those products. In these segments use of artificial intelligent / AI Bots can help a lot. Real time 24/7 Chatbots can be deployed to help the customers about the product features, specific questions around product use and precautions. A series of questions and answers are catalogued to create bots which help in helping the customers. These self service tools will help customers in saving their time and company’s money. The smart phone enabled connections also help in real time communication of information around product uses using social media like Twitter, Facebook or mobile SMS Functionalities.

Pillar 2: Operational Processes

Using automation of processes using for routine and mundane product safety tasks like Some of the process scenarios where such chemical information for different regulatory sites, MSDS information communication for end user information, pulling information to generate regulatory reports. Social Networking tools like Graph analysis to give insights around who in the organization have knowledge on specific topic or tool and how they are connected with each other will help the companies. Besides these performance management matrices like real time insights using analytics in highlighting the information like i) Statistics of MSDS Generation / distribution ii) Key statistics around regulatory checks iii) Worker level MSDS generations and approvals iv) Shipments of DG or other blocks needing attention and v) Automatic suggestion of classification of materials as relevant to DG or no will help companies.

Pillar 3: Business Model:

As is evident that companies are changing the way the business processes are being operated, Products are moving to the direction of services to on. The support development of platform based operation for engaging the customer to give insights around products like Real time Safety and Regulatory information insights, product regulatory disclosure information and a means to collaborate with social analysis, data communication means will help companies. One option being companies engaging in the Risk identification and remediation activities to manage the product usages as a offering. I would like to write a dedicated blog on new business models for EHS in coming days.

Conclusion:

Finally when it comes to implementing these digital strategies company can move from current stage of their digital journey to a stage of innovative and rapid adaptation. It is being discussed whether it benefits companies to redesign their existing business processes and way of operation with the availability of digital tools or create entirely new set of processes as these are dynamic in nature and are moving targets. Details about how to assess Digital Journey for a company depends upon the nature of the industry and it needs systematic assessments of incumbents in identifying the digital journey. There are various frameworks available which when adopted for these scenarios will help organizations achieve competitive growth.

To begin, the existing platforms needs to assessed, based on which required skills and approaches needs to chalked out. Once this framework is established digital framework can be established with a possible innovations as time go by. The use of dedicated cloud based offerings which can provide digital functionalities will help organizations in reacting to the current market use and innovate further as time progresses. The use of cloud based offerings will help companies in not only catching up with technologies but also help in knowledge gap and cost effective solutions. For the larger organizations which do not rapidly change, then a systematic digital transition needs to be considered like identifying a starting point and slowly building on top of that opportunity to move to final destination.

If you are interested to know more about Digital Transformation I would like to recommend couple of books on this topic like I) The Digital Transformation play book ii) Leading Digital iii) Digital matrix by Venkatraman who also conducted a very good session in Edx on this topic.

Thanks – Jak

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