ARC Industry Forum Executive Keynotes Highlight Sustainability, Digital Transformation, and Security

Author photo: Larry O'Brien
By Larry O'Brien


Digital transformation, sustainability, and cybersecurity were the major themes at the 27th annual ARC Advisory Group Industry Forum in Orlando from Feb. 6-9. With approximately 900 attendees, the Forum featured dozens of end user case studies and presentations, many workshops, panel discussion sessions and networking opportunities.

A key takeaway from the week is that while the COVID pandemic was a sufficient impetus for many end users to begin their journeys into digital transformation, the impact of increasing sustainability and ESG-related business requirements are providing end users with even more of an incentive to pursue these programs. Many end users, however, have embarked on digital transformation projects only to find that they lose momentum for a variety of reasons, but most often due to inability to scale.

Forging a Successful Digitalization Strategy

Tuesday’s keynote sessions focused on the advancement of digitalization strategies and some of the issues surrounding recent lack of momentum in digitalization projects. Allen Pertuit, vice president of downstream projects at Shell, discussed Shell’s transformation from a conventional integrated oil and gas company to a diversified energy company. Gabriel Gonzalez-Alonso, senior vice president and head of corporate development at ZF Group, spoke about his company’s journey to sustainability through digital transformation and renewable energy. ZF Group is an integrated mobility company that offers solutions for autonomous driving, integrated vehicle safety, and electric mobility.

Greg Gorbach, vice president of digitization and IoT at ARC Advisory Group, discussed some of the growing pains around digital transformation, why digital transformation (DT) projects stall or fail, and some strategies for making DT projects transition into long-term successes. A recent ARC survey shows, for example, that only 35 percent of survey respondents were either well underway with their digital transformation programs or have reached the point where they have gone beyond simple integration and are now deriving real time insights to drive optimization into manufacturing processes and workflows that deliver tangible business results.

Digital Transformation

Executives Share Views on Successful Digital Transformation

The Tuesday morning executive panel discussion included the presenters as well as Axel Lorenz, CEO of Process Automation at Siemens, Antonio Pietri, president and CEO of AspenTech, and Colin Masson, global industry marketing director Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing. The discussion followed a range of DT topics, from digital twins to justifying the cost of digital transformation projects.

The panel discussed how end users need to convince top management to take the budget for long-term digital transformation projects out of the normal budget of the company, which is often subject to short-term capital expenditure cost management and other cost containment factors. Successful digital transformation projects can also benefit from special financing.

The Role of Sustainability in Digital Transformation

The role of sustainability was also discussed in the context of digital transformation strategies. Many companies are implementing both sustainability and digital transformation initiatives at the same time. Shell, for example, has an initiative called the Sky Scenario, which outlines a technological path to achieving the emissions and climate goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.

Although many end users are looking at their own supply chains and making effort to decarbonize them, the automation suppliers are also doing the same within their own operational ecosystems. Axel Lorenz pointed out that Siemens is reducing the carbon footprint of its own supply chain. For example, Siemens has redesigned its DCS controllers to reduce the carbon footprint of production.


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Keywords: ARC Industry Forum, Shell, Siemens, ZF Group, Sustainability, Cybersecurity, AspenTech, Digital Transformation, World Economic Forum, ARC Advisory Group.

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