(US & Canada) VIDEO | Innovation Is the Key to Successful Digital Transformation — Harris Company Sr Director, Business Automation and Intelligence

Akira Togawa, Senior Director, Business Automation and Intelligence at Harris Company, speaks with Mark Johnson, Regional VP, New Era Technology US and Editorial Board Chair, CDO Magazine, in a video interview, about successfully integrating technologies to drive digital transformation, the role of data and analytics, and emerging technologies for accelerating innovation.

Togawa introduces Harris Company as a nationally recognized specialty contractor focused on Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC). The company’s notable projects portfolio includes building the MSG Sphere in Las Vegas, Raiders Stadium, and more. He adds that the company targets technology, medical, universities, and mostly institutional HVAC.

Before joining Harris Company, Togawa was a mechanical engineer, focused on nuclear engineering and design. His interests gradually transitioned into the technical space when he realized the need for people with an appetite for data and technology.

When asked about the successful integration of technologies into strategies that drive digital transformation, Togawa shares that innovation is the key to successful digital transformation. He maintains that digital transformation gets grouped with traditional information technology or infrastructure work.

Working with businesses and coming up with success-driving criteria are critical for the success of a digital transformation project, says Togawa.

He adds the organization keeps an eye out for newer technologies in the adoption curve and includes them based on its appetite. For instance, projects where AI and robotics are used in construction.

In terms of high-risk-high-reward initiatives, the organization wants to be in “early phase” projects that have already been tested by other key industry players and are ready for market. Some of Harris’ projects fit into a “dreamesque” phase where the company has to build the vision before portraying it to the business, says Togawa.

According to him, projects such as transforming spreadsheets into something else do not count as digital transformation but rather as digital translation. However, dashboarding is a foundational example of digital transformation, and surprisingly, many organizations do not have a formulated in-house dashboarding capability.

When asked about the role of data analytics technology in engineering large-scale projects, Togawa affirms that there are two sides to large-scale projects which require massive capital and funding. They are:

  • The means and methods of construction where data and analytics can be leveraged

  • The financial aspect of the projects

Then, Togawa highlights that one of the lesser-considered elements in the physical-to-digital play such as in construction, is bridging the gap between back-end resources and the field.

Elaborating further, he mentions that while an organization can train a model on the planned activities or build an analytic engine to look for critical path issues, it can also draw from experience in previous projects. Lessons learned from those can also help in framing the new construction schedule.

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(US & Canada) VIDEO | Innovation Is the Key to Successful Digital Transformation — Harris Company Sr Director, Business Automation and Intelligence

In case there are some areas of improvement, continues Togawa, the company can get feedback from the field and iterate through the construction schedule quickly.

Regarding leveraging emerging technologies for accelerating innovation and digital transformation, he says that there are many technologies that the company could implement. He however stresses the concept of pushing versus pulling technology.

Delving further, Togawa states that the technology teams are always trying to push new tech, and it may not necessarily be received. Taking that as an opportunity, the company helps in implementing such technologies when people ask according to their needs.

One such technology in the construction space is automating the fabrication of pipes. Togawa notes that this involves a lot of robotics which is an emerging technology.

The transition of traditionally human tasks to machines is exemplified in the case of pipe cutting. Companies are increasingly delegating tasks like cutting pipes or sheet metal to machines, freeing up human labor for more specialized tasks like welding or assembling.

To get there, Togawa explains it as breaking down the blueprint of a larger project into smaller manageable pieces and sending them to a machine for cutting, says Togawa. Implementing this has yielded favorable results, he adds.

Concluding, Togawa says that it is crucial to recognize that emerging technologies are not yet institutionalized. Therefore, it must be looked at as a milestone while supporting the changing technology. Also, the company must ensure staying abreast with the latest and best version of the robot and the latest version of software to create the blueprint.

CDO Magazine appreciates Akira Togawa for sharing his insights with our global community.

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