Digital Evolution Demystified: Understanding your Digital Journey

Is “Digital Transformation” just another buzzword phrase? 


If you said yes, most industry experts are on your side. As expert automation consultants, we push past buzzwords to develop clear, actionable strategies for your organization’s growth and optimization. In executing these plans, your systems undergo multiple phases of value optimization and cost minimization, and as such, we see this process as more of an evolution rather than a transformation between two states.

So, what has evolved over the years? The answer: an incredible amount. When was the last time someone used a drafting table? An array of countless switches, buttons, and dials instead of control screens? We have progressed immensely within the last few decades, and our technology has continuously evolved as we have progressed. Eventually, what we use now will give way to something new, and the cycle will continue. 

Three key perspectives form the basis for contextualizing an organization’s “Digital Evolution”: technical maturity, organizational maturity, and digital priority. 


Technical Maturity 

When charting technical maturity (or one’s ability to evolve technologically), there are four distinct phases to consider: pre-digital, digitalization, digital transformation, and digital evolution. Here is a closer look into what each one of those means. 



This concept is self-explanatory; it is any process that doesn’t leverage computer resources. This includes manual execution of tasks, paper record keeping, and more. For the most part, this is no longer a pre-digital world. 



With digitalization comes the foundations of automated control and digital workflows. While several processes may still utilize non-digital technologies, more tasks are being performed digitally. This phase includes introducing automation technologies such as PLCs and SCADA or digital documentation tools such as word processors and spreadsheets. During digitalization, there is increased connectivity and process visibility, meaning communications within a facility are now more manageable, and the process is more transparent; there is less guesswork and more clarity. 


Digital Transformation 

As an organization moves away from digitalization and into digital transformation (where your organization is likely now) comes advanced automated control over our systems with few to zero assets requiring manual actuation in the field. We also have increased bandwidth and can store more data that we can back up and recover. Cybersecurity begins to play a role in our systems, and IT/OT begin to collaborate. Standardization becomes uniform across systems, which allows for smoother maintenance, upgrades, and expansions. As a whole, the system is more efficient and reliable. 


Digital Evolution 

Digital evolution is the direction in which organizations like yours are looking towards. Digital evolution means we have self-learning, proactive model-based control instead of advanced automated control. Instead of just IT/OT collaboration, the two are fully integrated. Cybersecurity becomes a hybrid of network and infrastructure, and we can see contextualized data in real-time. Additionally, infrastructure is now easily scalable and flexible, enabling an organization with the control to run an incredibly efficient system. 

Organizational Maturity

While focus is often on the digital evolution of software and physical assets, time and planning are also required to develop your organization’s staff and processes along the Organizational Maturity Curve. This perspective is focused on tracking growth from a collection of disjointed teams with limited access to accurate data to a fully integrated organization with real-time data at its fingertips to enable quick, data-driven decisions. Here are the different stages of organizational maturity.


In the beginning stage, little strategy and minimal direction exist. The team’s knowledge is siloed, and digital competency needs to be improved. In these beginning stages, we often describe this situation as an organization carrying a large technical debt. This deficiency is characterized by most team members having shallow knowledge of how the organization’s systems work and how to efficiently use them. Often this is exacerbated by organizations in this stage having poor documentation and a single system expert. These deficiencies harm a facility through extended downtime, wasted resources, gut-feel decision-making, and slow and inaccurate reporting.

Catching Up

A few things happen as we move out of the early stages and closer to organizational maturity. The need for a strategy to plan system upgrades and address technical debt is now recognized, as is the need for cross-functional collaboration from different departments and potentially external experts. Digital competency increases and team members grow in their understanding of your automation systems, which means technical debt decreases.

Closing In

Closing in on organizational maturity means that a strategy has been developed and is being implemented. It also means interdepartmental coordination is becoming more streamlined and the team has minimal technical debt. Multiple team members are now experts on your automation systems which reduces the operational risks of losing key personnel. At this stage, documentation has been invested in which, on top of team-wide system knowledge, largely simplifies onboarding of new staff. 


Once we have begun to optimize, we will have an integrated digital strategy based on continuous learning. Organizations at this stage are looking to be industry leaders in implementing new, progressive technologies and policies which drive additional business value. The whole team will have a solid understanding of the system proportional to their role, and the organization will lean heavily into data-decisions. This is what we want to achieve in terms of organizational maturity.

Digital Priority Pyramid

When planning for technological and organizational advancements around digital technologies, the options are so vast that beginning the journey may seem daunting. The digital priority pyramid provides simple guidance on how to methodically and efficiently invest in your organization’s digital assets. At the bottom of the pyramid lies networking and communication infrastructure. One can only have a successful system with these foundations. Above networking and communications lies the control platform (PLCs). This should be documented, high-functioning, and manufacturer-supported. Next in line is the SCADA system, which should be designed around high-performance graphics, scalability, and user experience. After that lies the data reporting layer, which consists of implementing automation for common reports and opening channels for secure access to operational data across the organization. At the top of this pyramid are the advanced toolsets. These include intelligent asset management, advanced diagnostics, digital twins, instantaneous digital insights, and more. When the rest of the pyramid is well maintained, these additional options are much more cost-effective to implement.

While this evolution encompasses diverse elements, attaining it is well within your grasp. No matter your current technical or organizational maturity, there’s perpetual room for enhancement and here at Enterprise Automation we’ll meet you no matter where you are in your journey. In a world of ever-evolving technology, staying ahead is not just an option; it’s a necessity. Seize the opportunity to evolve, adapt, and thrive.