Digital transformation technologies (Article 4)

What technologies are central to implementing digital transformation? This article describes current and future technologies that enable digital transformation.

The previous article described applications that can offer significant benefits when implementing digital transformation. You can read it at this link.

Leading digital transformation technologies

Digital transformation leverages newer information technologies for business value. Examples of information technologies that advance digital transformation include:

  1. Cloud computing provides on-demand computing resources. It outsources the operation of your computing infrastructure to a vendor.
  2. Data analytics and visualization integrate data from multiple data sources and analyze it for business insights.
  3. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a software licensing and delivery model. Customers license the software on a subscription basis. The vendor operates the software centrally, and it’s accessed there by all the customers.
  4. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a term for networks of many sensors and instruments that acquire digital data for applications. In many ways, it’s the further development of SCADA.
  5. Robotic process automation (RPA) is advanced software to better support process automation by emulating human actions.
  6. Tablets and smartphones are used ubiquitously. However, many opportunities to use tablets in a business context remain to be explored and implemented.
  7. Machine learning is a branch of AI and computer science that uses data and algorithms to imitate human learning without following explicit instructions.
  8. Graph DBMS is a newish DBMS technology that focuses on managing the graphs or relationships in large data volumes.

Do some of these digital transformation technologies trigger ideas that can help you improve your business?

Digital transformation software developments

These software technologies will find broad application in many organizations and contribute to digital transformation:

  1. Artificial intelligence (AI) simulates human intelligence processes using computer systems. Today humans make most decisions. AI software makes decisions autonomously with less human supervision or involvement. AI can build more experience than humans, reduce risk and improve safety.
  2. Augmented reality (AR) superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world to provide a composite picture of the real and digital worlds. AR can improve operations and repairs by bringing component data onto the screen for staff to see and evaluate. AR reduces mistakes during operation and maintenance.
  3. Blockchain enables non-refutable, transparent and auditable business transactions among business partners through a shared electronic ledger. Blockchain can transform supply chain networks, contracting, joint ventures
  4. A digital twin is a digital data representation of a physical object. Digital twins help companies plan construction, commissioning, and decommissioning work. Digital twins reduce project cost, risk of accidents and probability of rework.

Computing hardware advances

Computing hardware advances increase performance and sometimes reduce the cost of digital transformation applications. Hardware advances include:

  1. Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe).
  2. User-Programmable Solid-State Drives (SSDs).
  3. Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA).
  4. Graphics processing units (GPU).
  5. Programmable Network Interface Cards (NICs).
  6. Robots are machines that automatically and repeatedly perform work processes. Robots perform work more consistently than humans. Robots can work in dangerous and hostile environments such as gas plants.
  7. 3D printing is additive manufacturing as opposed to subtractive manufacturing. 3D printing can reduce the cost of parts and components. Despite its slow speed, it can improve delivery times for complex components for compressors, pumps and valves

While these technologies are available today, their relative immaturity typically requires a significant business case because of the implementation risks.


The next article in this series will describe digital transformation obstacles.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Yogi Schulz
Yogi Schulz
Yogi Schulz has over 40 years of Information Technology experience in various industries. Yogi works extensively in the petroleum industry to select and implement financial, production revenue accounting, land & contracts, and geotechnical systems. He manages projects that arise from changes in business requirements, from the need to leverage technology opportunities and from mergers. His specialties include IT strategy, web strategy, and systems project management.

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