Digital Transformation: IoT and Real-Time Lean Six Sigma

Digital Transformation: IoT and Real-Time Lean Six Sigma
If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things, we would be able to track and count everything

Process improvement through methodologies such as Lean Six Sigma is very much in play within digital enterprises. How about IoT/IoE/M2M and the Process of Everything (PoE)? What is the relationship or relevance of Lean Six Sigma with connected devices or Things in end-to-end digitized and intelligent processes?

Kevin Ashton, a British technology pioneer, invented the term "Internet of Things." One of his observations from 2009, is quite interesting:

"If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things—using data they gathered without any help from us—we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best."

Notice the reference to digital automation ("without any help from us") in gathering and analyzing the data. Ashton proposes an IoT approach for reducing waste (Lean) and improving value propositions (CTX's such as cost), that are quite relevant to the voice of the customer (Six Sigma).

What is Real-Time Lean Six Sigma? Lean focuses on reducing waste, focusing on value work, and increasing processing speeds. Lean targets internal operations. Six Sigma on the other hand focuses on reducing variance and improving quality. The experience and the voice of the customer are critical in Six Sigma. Typically process performance is analyzed and addressed after the fact. This is a reactive and backward approach to process improvement. There is a huge gap between the time a problem is identified and the time it takes to fix the processes. "Real-Time" means process efficiencies and effectiveness are realized during execution, while doing the work in digitized and automated processes. It is known, both from theory and practice, that getting rid of waste (Lean) in internal processes enhances Six Sigma objectives. This means reducing variation for better quality as well as improving Thing and customer experience. Therefore, with real-time Lean Six Sigma operations are optimized through digitized intelligen

t processes that involve people, enterprise applications, and now Things.

How about Process of Everything? In addition to humans/roles and systems, Things are also becoming participants in end-to-end processes. Things (which also include robots) could be assigned tasks. One of the most pervasive use cases for Things is sensing a crisis event and then activating a digitized end-to-end process to respond to it.

The need for process improvement is even more compelling with PoE. IoT trends are introducing innovation in supporting process efficiency optimizations in continuous improvement lifecycles. Big Data as well as complex event processing, provide compelling enablers for real-time Lean Six Sigma. The digital transformational impacts for IT, operations, and the business are significant. In this fast era of IoT/IoE, process improvement objectives are achieved and maintained through the process of everything.