The biggest obstacle you may likely face in developing a Connected Enterprise isn't technology. It's internal resistance to change.
It's human nature to be wary of change — because change requires effort, it's uncomfortable, and the outcome is always uncertain. That's why it's vital to focus on corporate culture as you build a Connected Enterprise. Without the engagement of executives, engineers, and front-line workers alike, you'll never achieve all the improved productivity, security, and real-time information benefits you could via a 21st century information technology/operations technology (IT/OT) infrastructure.
Here's what we've learned over the last decade about how to manage change in a Connected Enterprise:
- Identify the vision and objectives for the change. Answer one question over and over: "Why are we doing this?"
- Communicate a plan for how the change will take place. No one wants to move forward without knowing what's next; detail The Connected Enterprise Execution Model for all stakeholders.
- Give people the tools they need. Training should be customized for specific roles and skills in the new work environment.
- Address the potential naysayers. Be reasonable in accommodating and persuading those who are hesitant, but prepare ahead of time a course of action if these hesitations impede change.
- Track progress and communicate successes. Everybody wants to be on a winning team.
These steps worked for Rockwell Automation as we worked to build our own Connected Enterprise, even as we responded to those perhaps slow to embrace change:
- Stage 1 — Assess: This is where the reality of fundamental change impacts employees. Why are we being assessed? What are they looking for? Why are they asking questions about my machine and my processes? Be ready with specific answers.
- Stage 2 — Secure and upgrade network and controls: Some executives may want to postpone change — while others will want to be the first to migrate to a new environment. Anticipate the biggest question: Who will lead the change and manage the new network — operations or IT staff?
- Stage 3 — Define and organize working data capital: Employees go from wishing they had more data to feeling overwhelmed by all the new information at their fingertips. Establish processes to ease their data angst and to filter only necessary information.
- Stage 4 — Analytics: In this stage, your IT/OT network delivers insights that surface problems and opportunities in real-time. You need processes to react quickly to these issues — or else your employees will be more frustrated than if they did not know a problem exists. You also have to make sure that the right information gets to the right individuals (those with the authority to act). Keep everyone focused on the big picture to minimize rogue actions.
- Stage 5 — Optimize and Collaborate: It's easy for front-line employees at customers and suppliers to resist efforts at collaboration; they don't work for you. This stage requires a leader-to-leader collaboration across companies to stop resistance in the trenches; supply-chain collaboration is never driven from the bottom up. Take charge.
People fear change, but like improved results. Launch your company's cultural journey toward The Connected Enterprise by painting a picture of where you want to go — and how much it will help everyone.