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Look around you.
Identify one object you can see that you believe can become digital.
What would be the benefit if it did become digital? ????
Unsure? I hope by the time you are done reading this post, you will be able to answer that question with ease.
First, let’s look at how digitisation works?
1. Digitisation of Products
Why would just any object around you have the possibility of becoming digital? It would need 3 core components. I will use my HP printer as an example (as i can’t endorse any safety tool or device just yet). It is just a printer but guess what? It is also heavily digitalised. It has gone beyond me connecting to my laptop and hitting print. Errrr……. what is she talking about?
Stay with me.
The 3 core components are:
Physical components are mechanical and electrical parts. My HP printer like every printer out there has got this. To digitise a product, it should have a physical element. Digitising products is different from digitising services – in a later post, I will explain in detail what the differences are.
Smart components increase the capabilities and value of the physical components. It could be presence of sensors, microprocessors or even data storage. My HP printer like many other printers has got these. It’s why I can be miles away and be able to send a document to my printer and it actually prints. But with the power of connectivity, it can do so much more!
Connectivity components in turn, increases the capabilities and value of the smart components. Some examples include antennae, wired or wireless functions. Connectivity allows the exchange of information between a product and users, manufacturers, and even other products. Connectivity even allows some functions to exist outside of the product. My HP printer has lots of got this. Ordering ink is automated and is possible with a wireless function.
Without connectivity, HP struggles to know when my ink level is low and when they need to ship one out. One I am disconnected from Wi-Fi for a period of time, HP alerts me via email that they are no longer connected to my printer. They advice me to connect, so they know when my ink levels are low and fulfil their part of “our agreement”.
The Physical, Smart and Connectivity component makes all these happen. Without one, my HP printer becomes just like any other printer out there that requires lots of human intervention.
Without digitisation, I would have to go to the shops to buy ink or order them online. I will need to know what kind of ink and the cartridge number. I even stand the risk of buying fake cartridges that would eventually harm my printer. Who need this level of stress?
So Why Digitise?
What a digital product can do, many traditional products cannot do. We now know that digitisation:
- Saves time
- Helps increase productivity
- Makes life a lot easier
- Amplifies human effort
- Ensures safety and so much more
I recently completed a short course on Digital Transformation with EdX and below are some information I gained from the program which I know you will find useful.
Data provided can be used to track what condition a digital product is in, how it is being used, and even what is going on around it. Just like the stories I have shared about my HP printer.
A digital product can be programmed to respond to a specific change in its condition or environment or allow users to customize how it does so.
For example, the alerts I get from HP once they lose connection to my printer. In addition, my boiler at home knows when to shut down if it stands the risk of causing harm. I didn’t know this until it happened some time last year and the plumber told us it only self-regulated and needed to be reset. I was impressed.
So you can see they actually keep us safe or safer.
Just like robot hoovers or new cleaning technologies that use water or relatively mild substances to clean what we relied on harmful substances to do. Robot hoovers eliminate/reduces slips and trips, manual handling problems and saves lots of time especially in the hospitality sector where housekeepers are pressed for time.
A digital product can apply algorithms and analytics to real-time or historical data to make itself more productive, useful, or efficient in the future. E.g. Just like social media. They rely on our data (historical, present and real-time) to improve their services and of course make money off us????. Many digital products also have this capability like our cars, smart phones etc.
4. Operate autonomously
A digital product can evaluate conditions and make decisions, and coordinate with systems and other products to perform a task with a minimum of immediate human input.
Isn’t this what we enjoy with automation and many of the platforms and tools we enjoy today? We have automated extraction systems in many factories and workplaces today – these are designed to come on when a certain machine is turned on, for example.
Dare I say – If you are still using manual processes, you are putting you, the department and company at a huge DISADVANTAGE!
How then can you start your digitisation journey?
I have here a 7-step process we use in-house and when working with clients. I love to START with THE END in mind.
Step 1 – Identify the process that needs digitisation.
For example, training or incident reporting. With many working from home or remotely, it has become highly important that training moves from being entirely a classroom affair to being digital. I explained in this post, how you can move your training online in no time with everyday tech tool. Yes you can.
What about incident reporting? You really shouldn’t be recording them on paper. Errrr…. this is 2020. You need to go digital. No budget? Then you need to read this post I wrote specially for you. You can move incident reporting and investigation digital today if you choose.
Step 2 – List the main 3 to 5 steps usually involved in carrying out that process
So you want to deliver training. What steps do you usually take? One may take the following steps.
- Decide on topic
- Create a lesson plan
- Create content and materials
- Deliver the training
- Get feedback
Let’s imagine these 5 steps are what we would normally take.
Step 3 – Identify the digital technologies that can/should be used to replace the existing process.
Now we have those 5 steps, we need to decide what platforms or technologies we would use., One may decide to find an all-in-one solution or may decide to use already available resources or tools. The best is to work with a technology consultant or spend time researching in-house.
The main focus would be on delivery as most already have a lesson plan, content etc and existing ways of working around them may still work, but making them available digitally is what would make the difference.
Rather than printing or giving hard copy workbook, you can digitise and make them fillable PDFs or Google docs.
So how would you deliver? A great way to start is via Google Classroom. We also have many other platforms like Membervault, Zenler, Teachable, and so much more etc. They cost money but most are relatively affordable especially the first 2 (I personally use them).
In my next post, I will take you on a tour around both Membervault and Zenler and how I use them in my businesses to provide training online and digitise some of our services including some safety tasks.
Step 4 – Test. Test. Test.
Now you’ve decided on these platform, test them before you implement and introduce them to your teams. You could create test accounts or test courses and experience it as a user. Same goes for any process you decide to digitise. Whatever it is and no matter how complicated or experienced you are with the tool, testing is a key part of the journey. Without testing, failure may be guaranteed.
Step 5 – Implement
Now you’ve tested and all works fine, it is time to implement the new or improved digital system. Launch it as part of your way of work.
Step 6 – Train, Instruct, Inform
No matter how tech-savvy the team is, training is required on how to use the new system and what’s required. Training should also include how to request support, report problems or bugs and even provide feedback as a user.
I always say that the users are the best people to provide feedback. They know their joys, frustrations, roadblocks, and wishes. LISTEN to them.
Step 7 – Review
Like most things in safety, we need to review the platform or new/improved process. Is it working? Is this the right solution for us? Did we get it right? What can we do better? What needs to change, be removed or improve?
Truth is, sometimes, in safety, we use the wrong solutions. Largely because we were never part of the consultation process or the ready made solutions are just too generic to work for our unique needs. That is why it is important to work with a technology consultant from the very beginning – this saves you time and money in the long run. Trying to do things yourself often results in choosing the wrong solutions and wasting money – I have seen this happen time and time again.