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Navigating Digital Transformation in Complex Industries: A Framework for Success


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For industries like Oil and Gas and Manufacturing, digital transformation is imperative for sustained growth and competitiveness. However, the industrial data landscape is complex. Diverse data types are difficult to use, especially after integration into a data lake, and many insights are stranded in built-for-purpose applications, making the path to digital transformation more challenging. 

If industrial organizations want to achieve increased efficiency, reduced costs, and enhanced decision-making capabilities promised by full-scale digital transformation, they must think critically about their goals and maturity in digital transformation initiatives and carefully assess what it would take to implement new technologies in their ecosystem. 

To navigate these complexities successfully, organizations can rely on Cognite’s Customer Success Framework. This framework is broken down into two parts:

Part One: The 5Ps

Purpose: Create Excitement and Get Buy-In

Digital transformation initiatives often fail due to a lack of clear purpose and insufficient stakeholder buy-in. To counteract this, begin by articulating a compelling vision that resonates with employees at all levels. Then, identify your key champions, especially those looking to solve their data problems faster and more efficiently, and clearly explain the benefits of the transformation for them. 

Whether it’s creating digital twins, automating highly manual processes, maximizing your production, or minimizing turnaround time, highlighting user-centric success stories from similar industries (and, eventually, showcasing your own success as the program rolls out) can also serve as powerful catalysts for generating excitement and fostering a sense of purpose among teams.

Best Practice: Regularly communicating progress, milestones, and success stories through awareness campaigns such as newsletters, use case exploration sessions, and hands-on training to reinforce the purpose and maintain enthusiasm.

People: Build Your Teams Incrementally 

The success of any digital transformation initiative is heavily reliant on the people involved. Cognite’s Professional Services teams and certified partner network provide the subject matter and domain expertise you’ll need to quickly enable a Center of Excellence that can advise and augment your teams as you grow. Building cross-functional teams with diverse skills and perspectives is crucial, and incremental team building allows for a smoother integration of new talent and expertise. Additionally, Cognite’s Academy, training, and active user community provide the latest resources to continuously upskill and educate your organization throughout the digital transformation journey.

Best Practice:  Build a Center of Excellence and prioritize ongoing training and professional development to continuously grow your talent pool and get the most out of your digital team.

Portfolio: Be Deliberate About the Value You Want to Create

Many organizations struggle to clearly identify use cases and understand the value that can be delivered from their digital transformation. Successful organizations refrain from pursuing disparate projects simultaneously and instead prioritize initiatives that align with strategic objectives and deliver tangible value incrementally. 

Cognite has proven paths to incrementally growing use cases and value: starting with the data foundation and unlocking generative AI-enhanced data exploration, moving that success into the field and implementing connected worker tools, and then scaling toward a more comprehensive remote operations control tower. Meticulously curating your digital portfolio, incentivizing usage, and developing a clear adoption strategy will maximize impact and ROI.

Best Practice: Regularly reassess the portfolio to ensure alignment with organizational goals and market dynamics, making adjustments as necessary. Explore predefined packages with Cognite where possible to demonstrate value quickly and effectively and work with your account team to ensure you have an Adoption Strategy aligned to the needs of your organization. 

Process: Create a Collaborative Ecosystem

Collaboration is the bedrock of successful digital transformation. Breaking down silos and fostering open communication across departments is paramount. Cognite can help create a governance framework that highlights clear ownership across your organization and is aligned with all of your partners. Begin with individual project execution governance and establish program governance, including change management, risk management, data management, and roadmap alignment. Ensure executive oversight through steering committees and/or quarterly executive reviews with key sponsors. 

Best Practice: Establish clear communication channels, feedback loops, and KPIs for structure and continuous improvement to sustain a collaborative culture.

Product and Platform: Know What Powers the Value You Drive

As the technological backbone of digital transformation, the data platform plays a critical role. Understanding the capabilities of the chosen platform is essential for unlocking the full potential of digital initiatives. Only Cognite offers deterministic, hallucination-free, data-leakage-free, real-time, data-inclusive Generative AI solutions that cover ET/OT/IT industrial data. We do this through industrial-data-specific data contextualization pipeline services that create and maintain a high-performance Industrial Knowledge Graph with flexible data modeling. And only Cognite is built API-first, allowing you to connect to any other system and develop solutions through Cognite’s collaborative workspace (Industrial Canvas) or any other partner you choose.  

Best Practice: Look for an open, extensible, and secure solution that offers robust industrial contextualization capabilities (regardless of source and type) and a prebuilt, comprehensive AI architecture.

Part Two: Strategic Evolution 

Your digital transformation journey is an evolution, with a different strategy for success at each stage. Cognite calls these stages Start, Structure, and Scale, which translates to building the right foundation, developing repeatability, and then growing across assets, units, sites, and regions. Each stage is accompanied by a number of milestones we believe are necessary to track your progress (a few key ones are summarized in the below diagrams).

This perspective helps you focus on key objectives throughout your digital transformation to ensure you build and grow a highly collaborative cross-functional organization that delivers value. Cognite’s Customer Success team will support and help you identify where you are in your digital transformation journey and chart a plan to accomplish your end goals.


Putting the Framework into Practice

When considering the 5Ps across the Start, Structure, and Scale stages, Cognite delivers a straightforward framework that provides clear milestones throughout a digitalization journey.  Below are a few examples.


Successfully navigating the complex journey of digital transformation demands a holistic and strategic approach. Cognite’s Customer Success Framework allows you to think critically about how you grow your vision, core skills, systems, and processes so that your organization can not only overcome common challenges but thrive in the digital age.

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