Digital technology strategies your business can use to boost revenue and maximize profits and shareholder returns

Yogi SchulzThe 2024 outlook for Canadian industry is excellent. What can companies do to increase revenue and maximize shareholder returns? Consider these observations:

  • Inflation is headed down.
  • The Bank of Canada will likely reduce interest rates later in the year.
  • The soft landing that avoids a recession appears to be occurring.
  • U.S. manufacturing is reviving, creating opportunities for Canadian suppliers.
  • The influx of a record number of immigrants will boost the economy.
  • In 2023, the Trudeau government signed three unprecedented battery plant contracts with contributions from Ontario and Quebec. These plants and related critical minerals mining will contribute to economic growth.
  • Global crude oil demand is increasing, and OPEC+ production discipline is surprising. Therefore, Canadian revenue forecasts for crude oil and natural gas exports look excellent.
  • The TMX pipeline is inching toward completion, creating a way for Canada to increase crude oil exports to an eager Asian market and reduce reliance on expensive rail exports.
  • Pro-business parties govern some provinces. That encourages investment and increases jobs while reducing risk.

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Here are some information technology ideas you can implement to maximize the value of these observations for your shareholders and stakeholders. Most are not new. However, most companies can do more to benefit fully from these ideas.

Predictive analytics

Many companies can significantly widen the application of predictive analytics to achieve value from the digital data they collect and manage. Predictive analytics encompasses various statistical techniques, including predictive modelling, machine learning, and data mining, to analyze current and historical facts to predict future or otherwise unknown events.

Example predictive analytics benefits include:

  • Reduce research risk – Use data visualizations of 3D models to confirm or refute your hypotheses about the potential of products under development.
  • Create development scenarios – Use predictive models to quickly explore the outcome of various product and market development cost scenarios.
  • Improve competitor analysis – Use predictive analytics better to understand competitors’ likely moves in each regional market.
  • Improve plant operations – Use predictive analytics to better understand the flood of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or SCADA data from sensors. This data improves predictive component failure and maintenance and reduces operating costs.
  • Control supply chain costs – Use predictive analytics to better understand the variables at play in various opportunities to shorten supply chains and reduce single-vendor dependencies.
  • Evaluate acquisition and divestiture opportunities – Use predictive analytics to forecast acquisition returns based on various price, market share, cost of capital and operating cost scenarios.

At least one of these predictive analytics applications can add value to your company.

Generative AI

Generative AI can be a significant timesaver compared to search engines like Google or Bing. The difference is that search engines return lists of relevant web pages for you to read and evaluate, while generative AI software directly answers your questions.

In addition to improving search, generative AI can generate complete first drafts of research papers and reports. Be sure to review the text carefully. Sometimes, generative AI includes impressive-sounding sentences that are inaccurate.

Experiment using generative AI software such as Bing Chat, ChatGPT, DALL·E3 or Gemini. They’re excellent for content generation of all types.

Digital transformation

Digital transformation offers companies additional opportunities to:

  • Eradicate your remaining paper-based, manual business processes to enable a comprehensive view of your data.
  • Integrate IT systems to allow a cross-functional view of your activities that significantly reduces departmental silos and encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration.
  • Support seamless employee and partner collaboration with digital workspaces for process improvements and sharing knowledge, trends, and intelligence.
  • Implement electronic connectivity with your essential trading partners to improve supply chain effectiveness.
  • Boost data quality to enable predictive data analytics that supports data-driven decision-making and reduces the risk of making poor decisions based on misleading data.
  • Enhance data management practices to extract more value from your data.
  • Modernize aging IT systems with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings to achieve more comprehensive digital support for your business processes.

This list of opportunities should trigger a thought about a digital transformation project you could undertake at your company to improve business processes and reduce rework.

For more digital transformation ideas, please watch this video: Demystifying Digital Transformation.

Machine learning

Machine learning (ML) is a new technology that helps many organizations identify and realize improvement opportunities. Machine learning refers to systems that can learn and adapt using algorithms and statistical models to analyze and draw inferences from patterns in data. Example ML benefits include:

  • Increase production profitability.
  • Reduce unscheduled downtime.
  • Reduce operating costs.
  • Improve equipment utilization.
  • Improve safety.
  • Improve environmental performance.

Mobile apps

Mobile apps are software packages specifically designed for tablets and smartphones. The Apple App Store and Google Play offer multiple apps that are useful for digital transformation. The most widely used ones are for data entry and process automation. Examples include Forms on Fire and Process Runner. Many app developers also build custom apps for companies.

Mobile apps on tablets and smartphones can deliver quick, low-cost benefits by replacing uneven manual data capture, often in field and plant operation, and improving data accessibility. These projects can be particularly low risk if employees already use tablets and smartphones for other purposes.

Yogi Schulz has over 40 years of information technology experience in various industries. Yogi works extensively in the petroleum industry. He manages projects that arise from changes in business requirements, the need to leverage technology opportunities, and mergers. His specialties include IT strategy, web strategy and project management.

For interview requests, click here.

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