The mining industry as a whole is at a nascent stage of digital transformation, with 77% of mining companies worldwide just at the initial stages of IDC’s five stage maturity journey.
An IDC Energy Insights report assessing maturity and progress of mining organisations’ worldwide with regards to their digital transformation (DX) initiatives shows that the other 23% of mining companies are already organised and consistent in their DX initiatives, bringing repeatable and managed success in being DX-enabled.
These extremes present the reality that companies that are just surviving digitally must face an aggressive imperative to break down the walls between DX and mining operations to thrive and flourish.
“Mining companies are at the edge of a transformation precipice – all trying to work out how to jump to the other side,” says Emilie Ditton, research director of IDC Energy Insights. “The drive to create competitive differentiation through operational excellence, visibility and agility will fuel this transformation that will change the operational and commercial structures within mining before it is finished.”
Core to this transformation is the ability of mining companies to utilise and extract value from data; in the form of knowledge, insight and action.
Across all core functional activities – supply chain, planning and scheduling, maintenance, operations and trading – mining companies have no choice but to reassess the relationship between operations, technology, process, people and data. At the core, the transformation that is taking place is the transformation of how decision-making takes place.
The transformation that mining companies will need to undertake is a business transformation – one that is enabled and driven by technology capabilities and innovation.
Capabilities across IDC’s third platform – cloud, mobility, analytics and social – and the innovation accelerators of IoT, robotics, cognitive processing, and security particularly will shift the value that can be created through the integration of IT and operations, creating the foundation and connections for the flow data across and between processes.
IDC Energy Insights expects that, as mining companies progress along their journey of innovation and technology investment that has begun, the business case for the integration and what it means for processes and workflows will transform, even beyond what is anticipated now.
“Third-platform technology accelerators – for example the ability to process data at scale and to enable operations with platforms embedded within process – will shift the reality of what a mining operation can be,” Ditton says. “We will see a shift in the business case for the integration between IT and operations and the technology foundation that is required to enable it.”
The integration of IT and operational technology across software, systems, governance and organisation is a critical part of the transformation that mining companies will need to undertake. IDC Energy Insights’ survey of the IT/OT priorities of mining companies worldwide in January 2016 demonstrates that cloud, mobility and IoT are amongst the top priorities for technology investments of operational technology functions within mining companies globally.
These survey results show also that priorities across cloud, edge computing and organisational change will be core drivers of the transformation agenda of mining companies.
“Mining companies are just at the beginning of their DX journey,” says Sparshy Saxena, senior market analyst at IDC Energy Insights. “Most mining companies do not think of it in these terms, rather in terms of operational excellence, digital mining and IT/OT convergence, but none the less it is a DX led transformation.
“Ulimately, through enabling processes and workflow with data, platforms and innovation will reshape the industry as we know it.”