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Essential Questions to Ask When Selecting a Digital Partner for Your Industrial Assets

Essential Questions to Ask When Selecting a Digital Partner for Your Industrial Assets

It’s viral. Digital transformation (DX) is an increasingly essential journey for businesses, systems and processes to either embark on or accelerate. One of the most crucial things for a successful DX is to select the correct digital partner.


For EPC contractors and owner-operators of industrial assets, the DX road can be particularly daunting. On-the-ground realities don’t always sync with high-level intention. The right digital partner bridges this gap, metabolizing a high-level vision for things such as decarbonization, cutting capital project costs and, frankly, saving workers’ lives.


Particularly when embarking on a DX journey, as might be the case for industrial sectors ranking low on the digital maturity scale, partnership quality is essential. For those accelerating their existing DX strategies, the right digital partner lubricates the pathway for frictionless success. 


Here are 5 essential questions for EPC groups and owner-operators of industrial assets to ask when selecting a digital partner:

 

5 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Digital Partner

  1. Do your digital partners have field experience in the industries their software serves?
  2. To what extent do your digital partner’s digital solutions integrate with your existing systems?
  3. How do their digital software solutions work for managing offshore or other remote assets?
  4. How user-friendly is their technology?
  5. Who are your existing customers and what are their experiences?

 

Do your digital partners have field experience in the industries their software serves?

Skilled developers write elegant code that performs sophisticated functions. But what problems does the software address? 


Digital partners that include professionals with field experience and on-the-ground expertise ensure a fit-for-purpose, solutions-based tool. This is the knowledge base that bridges the gap between your corporate-level DX intentions and the successful uptake of new technologies throughout your operations.

 

To what extent do your digital partner’s digital solutions integrate with your existing systems?


Regardless as to where your organization is in its DX journey, it’s likely that things such as financial systems and inventory management already rely on some form of digital system.  When you’re ready to take the value-added leap of digitizing the planning and oversight of your construction, maintenance and operational practices, many software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers do not sell products that integrate with your existing systems.


Why is this important? Well, having an integrated platform that draws information in from other systems creates an easily accessible, comprehensive picture. It’s like Signac’s pointillism: if his masterpieces were monochromatic, the landscape would be vague, at best. But, when the full color palette is used, an understandable and meaningful picture emerges. Pulling data from multiple sources increases and diversifies the information to hand. 

 

How do their digital software solutions work for managing offshore or other remote assets?


This question is really about whether your digital partner’s software is on-premise or cloud-based. It has to do with where the information is stored and, therefore, from where it can be accessed (and, accordingly, by who).


“On-prem” software stores databases on a local server. So, for example, if used on an offshore oil platform or other remote assets, system information may not be easily accessible to those not physically on-site. 


This stands in contrast to cloud-based software where the system is accessible anywhere with an internet connection, by all stakeholders who have been granted access. Cloud-based data management opens up a host of possibilities for remote management. Features such as remote visualizations and remote inspections enable evidence-based decision making from afar. 

 

How user friendly is the technology offered by your digital partner?


Software can tout features that sound great! It may be clear how the advertised functionalities and features improve a project’s return on investment (ROI). But this assumes that uptake of the technology in the field will be welcome, rapid and seamless. The reality is often very different, but this is a problem that the right digital partner is poised to address proactively. 


Essential Qs digital partner in-text imageFirstly, how friendly are the user interface design (UI) and user experience (UX)? The nature of these two things translates into ease of uptake and likelihood of success. The next question to seek answers to when evaluating the user’s perspective would be: what technical support and training resources are offered? Things such as video tutorials and the ability to contact an actual human when needed ensure that employees are upskilled to reap the full benefits.

 

Who are your existing customers and what are their experiences?


SaaS providers – when done right, these are your digital partners ushering your DX journey – should be able to present case studies of their digital solutions in practice. Ask them for their use cases and case studies. Read these materials. And ask questions. Look for parallels in the problems their case studies present – are they similar to the ones faced by your organization?  

 

 

If you’d like to read about some DX journeys that may help guide yours, check out some of our case studies.

 

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