The Digital Thread can appear rather abstract and vague when it is not grounded in the actual activities and projects of a given business. However, it is easier to think of the Digital Thread as all of the active data required to manage and execute a large-scale process throughout an entire organization. It also creates a template of historical data from which organizations can learn and improve for the future.
This is what forms the Digital Thread; the concept of a seamless Digital Thread can be accessed and updated without the need to duplicate or export data from different sources. Why? Because everyone within the organization is working from a single source of truth based on a consistent, up-to-data thread of data.
What Does the Digital Thread Do?
The Digital Thread provides traceability, visibility, and context throughout the life cycle of a contract or commercial project. With more and more data now being stored in the cloud, organizations and users can access data that is connected to multiple systems or tools (IoT), creating an IT Architecture called the System of Systems. This, in turn, makes an entire organizations digital framework logical and accessible from every internal vantage point.
Dassian solutions support a seamless digital data thread to manage contract and project data during every step of the process. The Digital Thread creates the opportunity to assess how data and processes flow within an organization. It also provides a chance to reduce technical debt, identify disparate systems, and simplify processes through increased automation.
What is Technical Debt?
Technical debt (also known as tech debt or code debt) occurs when development teams take actions to expedite the delivery of a project that later needs to be refactored. When we look at a siloed environment, custom-code (Z code) or customizations are designed to support a specific business unit or department function. The challenge for organizations with either custom code or customizations include:
- No Service Level Agreement – Ongoing development can be expensive. Due to the impact upgrades or custom code can have, an organization can become reluctant to upgrade its technology, meaning the business is unable to leverage new features and capabilities because certain processes could fail, negatively affecting the business. Customizations without service level agreements make it virtually impossible to improve existing processes or systems at the organizational level without taking on excessive risk.
- Limited Compatible Resources – Only a limited number of resources can work within certain functional specifications, meaning that organizations are at risk if an individual were to suddenly depart the organization. How would a business continue to manage the process if it has little or no understanding of how to maintain its own systems?
- Aging Legacy Systems – The older a system gets, the more expensive and difficult it becomes to maintain. Technical debt can accumulate when organizations fail to keep their systems updated with current (and even future) technologies.
What are Disparate Systems?
Disparate systems are additional software packages that are added to manage business processes and are not fully integrated in the core IT Platform. Businesses implement disparate systems to fix to a problem where a task or process would otherwise be managed manually. For example, a department may use a spreadsheet to create a report. To reduce the need for manual labor, a new system with additional functions is introduced.
The challenge is that data is still needed to perform the task, meaning data will need to be exported from the core platform, and then imported to the system package. However, does the data (or the end result) get fed back into the core platform when completed? If not, this is not fully integrated and becomes a disparate system. Over time, organization’s IT architecture could grow and become more difficult to manage by adding more and more disparate systems.
Avoiding Technical Debt & Disparate Systems Via the Digital Thread
With Industry 4.0, companies are in a new industrial paradigm wherein there is a need to transform the way they interact with customers, understand unique business circumstances, change operations for manufacturers, and learn how customers receive and engage with products. In reference to the value streams of traditional business models developed over the past century, the biggest developments have come from the introduction of robotics on the assembly line (Industry 2.0), as well as the introduction of PCs and the internet. Yet, despite these digital and technological advancements, most businesses still depend on the analog operating models of years past.
Industry 4.0 looks to not only change how business processes are conducted and managed, but also improve the ability to maintain and collect vast amounts of data on a single, cloud-based platform. This enables all aspects of the business to share and collaborate from a single data source, dramatically altering how a traditional business model can operate, thereby creating an opportunity for a Digital Business Transformation to take shape.
The Challenge for Businesses and Dassian
How does a business take an existing operational model and completely revamp its system to take advantage of Industry 4.0?
Emerging Industry 4.0 technologies can entirely transform value streams for large organizations. The benefits of digitalization range from enhanced production efficiency to innovative product and service deployment. Like digital transformation, Industry 4.0 will ultimately help a business become smarter and more efficient, developing strong yet customizable vertical value chains. The challenge lies in the initial leap of faith into new and developing technologies. For this reason, more and more organizations that desire to take part in the Digital Business Transformation are turning to Dassian for assistance.
Dassian has the vision and knowledge to help businesses implement Industry 4.0 technologies and take full advantage of the Digital Thread.Contact us today.