Guest Column | September 26, 2022

Why Businesses Have To Start Leveraging Data And Automation To Its Fullest Potential

By Rick Veague, IFS


The past two years have been a rude awakening for many organizations, whether they were able to fully go remote or not. Even in manufacturing and other sectors where work had to be done in person, the use of smart technology has significantly increased. Processes like stock taking and operational auditing are now done electronically. While the pandemic forced businesses to embrace tech investment that was previously deprioritized, the fruits of such investment have changed their minds around it. Now, they are embracing it.

That said, a full embrace of the latest technology does not translate directly into full efficiency. Putting excessive investment and manpower into acquiring new tools and technology can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack with a metal detector that is too complicated to use. It’s a waste of time and resources that creates a false sense of competitiveness. How should businesses meaningfully embrace technology to help them succeed?

The Great Upgrade

When COVID hit, business leaders no longer saw technology investment as an unnecessary cost, but as something key to keeping their company alive. For instance, the need to work and interact with colleagues and customers remotely required investments in data security and accelerated migration to the cloud. According to a McKinsey Global survey of executives conducted in July 2020, companies had accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply chain interactions and their internal operations by three to four years – in just a matter of months.

The great upgrade in tools companies deploy to their workflow means that they are likely to stay. Now that the investments have been made, many companies have permanently transformed some of the pre-pandemic bottlenecks into virtual interactions. According to the same McKinsey survey, the majority of executives expect technology-related changes, along with remote work and customer interactions, will continue in the future. Yet, the change happened in less than a year. With such a quick transition, if businesses hope to use the new data gathered by the new hardware and software bought at the onset of the crisis in a meaningful way, they need the right data and tools to extract useful insights.

Addressing Deficiencies In Data And AI-Enabled Technology

In today’s on-demand world, it is increasingly challenging to optimize a company’s workforce productivity and meet shifting customer expectations. To offer greater business value to customers, organizations must be able to understand and fully utilize data and intelligence to both meet current customer needs and anticipate future ones. However, such innovation requires breaking down data silos and coordinating processes across the organization to provide employees with the right customer insights.

With AI-embedded software, organizations are finally empowered to automate repetitive tasks, process complex data sets, and more. In fact, according to Deloitte’s State of AI in the Enterprise survey, 39% of respondents identified data issues as one of the top three greatest challenges they face with AI initiatives. While 80% of companies are already using or planning to deploy some form of automation over the coming year, it can be difficult for them to start the process of delivering on the value AI promises without expert third-party guidance. Being able to take full advantage of data and the latest technology requires constant updates and fine-tuning to extract the best value to suit unique business needs.

Servitization Empowers Businesses To Maximize Data And AI Investments

Enterprises are no longer only looking for a pre-packaged, one-size-fits-all solution. The increasing trend toward servitization, where tech vendors provide continuous service after the initial product is delivered, shows this mindset shift. Using a combination of data and AI has a lot of benefits, especially for companies, like field service organizations for example, that typically dispatch technicians to remote locations to install, repair, or maintain equipment. By adopting the servitization model, FSOs are ensuring continuous support in optimizing the use of data and technology already in hand allowing them to respond to and, in some cases, automate predicted service tasks.

As we move toward a more modern, automated future, organizations will need to have a clear comprehension of their data silos if they want to fully leverage the potential of AI. When data is used effectively, organizations can solve a variety of problems end-to-end, truly harnessing the power of 21st-century information technology and setting them on the path to success.

About The Author

​​As Chief Technology Officer of IFS in North America, Rick Veague is responsible for driving the leading product and industry solutions that deliver true business value to IFS customers and partners in the United States and Canada. As a well-respected panelist and speaker, Rick regularly speaks on IFS solutions and IT strategies at tradeshows and industry events throughout the country.

Rick joined IFS in 1999 and has held various pre- and post-sales positions developing, marketing, and delivering high-value business applications including ERP, SM, EAM, and MRO solutions. He holds a degree in Computer Science and Mathematics from Knox College.