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Digital EHS
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Maxime Ouellet

Did you say ”digital EHS”?

Sustainable development, regulatory compliance, change management, operational excellence. EHS administrators are becoming more and more influential in their organizations and are participating in their growth and evolution. Since the past few years, a wind of change is transforming markets and organizations: that of digitalization. What do these changes signify and more importantly, what will be their impact on EHS administrators?

During the CeBIT event that took place from 20th to 24th March 2017 at the Deutsche Messe site in Hannover, Germany, I had the privilege of witnessing the latest trends, challenges and developments in the field of digital transformation of companies.

An inevitable reality

Apart from exciting technologies such as augmented and virtual reality, drones, robotics and artificial intelligence, many speakers endeavored to portray a picture of the impact of digitalization on society, organizations and business models. With massive investments of several billions in the past few years, digital giants such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, IBM et Huawei – to name a few – are ready to provide the necessary infrastructure and services that will enable them to spread out the Internet of Things – billions of devices connected to the Internet that have already started invading the market at an alarming pace – and manage the “big data” that is generated in the process. Thousands of companies enabling innovative technologies are emerging and transforming in order to provide services and products that focus on value creation in this niche.

As stated by Mr. Dinko Eror, Vice President and Managing Director of DellEMC Germany, while delivering his conference lecture called “d!conomy”, only 5% of organizations consider themselves as “Transformed” when evaluated based on the level of maturity in terms of digital transformation. 83% of the organizations questioned find themselves equally divided between the stage of emergence and that of evolution. The rest still linger in the good old status quo.

These results are not very surprising. If one can easily see the value of digital transformation for organizations in the “B2C” domain such as the media and retail outlets – for whom it is a question of survival – other organizations are slow in understanding its intricacies. Take for instance the air carrier United which seems to have experienced malfunctioning in the execution of an element of its digital strategy, particularly in public relations and marketing, after having lost more than 250 million USD post the scandal where a passenger was forcibly evacuated from a flight leaving from Chicago in April 2017.

Digitalization, a competitive advantage

Evidently, the digitalization of an organization not only affects its relations with its customers. It also offers opportunities for internal performance by transforming the way in which employees work and collaborate. Liberated from all tedious processes and its chain of command, the agile organization can innovate easily, capitalize on competitive advantages and engage in value creation. Access to data proves to be a wealth of information that helps to define and evaluate optimization strategies. Heard in the CeBit conference in last March, Mr. Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and creator of “Pong” the popular game, deliver his conference lecture titled “The future of Technology”: “If you are not into data analytics right now, you are missing a huge opportunity”. The visionary Mr. Bushnell spoke very highly of the potential of virtual and augmented reality. Inspiring!

In view of this inevitable trend in digitalization, how can managers and leaders in the field of environment, health and safety contribute towards digital transformation within their organizations?

Firstly, they are proprietors of processes that are crucial to operational compliance having a multitude of laws and standards. Processes that have direct impact on all the employees and on productivity.

Secondly, the EHS administrators, due to the nature of their responsibilities, have developed skills necessary to manage the change and support cultural transformations that take place within the organization.

Thirdly, they are bound to focus more closely on technology and convince their colleagues – and sometimes themselves – that they are responsible for value creation. Like procurement professionals who applied technology and data to simplify the process of acquisition, they should create value and in the process get organizations to come to a common platform where decisions are taken.

For CONFORMiT, the CeBIT 2017 was an excellent occasion to confirm our commitment towards our technological vision. This vision enables us to constantly redefine our “roadmap”, thus allowing us to support our clients in their digital transformation. I invite you to follow this blog where I will share my findings and thoughts on the digital enterprise, the technologies associated with it and how they can help you attain excellence in your management of the EHS. Needless to say, I expect this digital enterprise adventure to be full of unexpected developments and uncertainties and I invite you to provide me with your comments and thoughts.

At CONFORMiT, we are definitively D!EHS!

And you, how do you envision the future of digitalization of the EHS?

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