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On May 28th -29th, Railmonitor attended this year’s Rise of IoT & Big Data in Rail conference in Munich.

We were about 300 participants and a good mix of suppliers, operators and infrastructure owners. Our common denominator was that we share a true passion for IoT and Big Data and the digital transformation of rail.

There was no doubt that we are all excited about the prospect of a digital railway. There are, however, a few challenges we are all facing, regardless of whether you are a supplier, an operator or an infrastructure owner.

Old habits die hard

One of the core challenges in our industry is that we seem to be afraid of changes. In general, we are all creatures of habit: we simply prefer to do the same things the same way. This is a huge challenge if we want to be successful in digitizing our industry.

This reluctance towards change is not exactly the dream approach to be met by, by our colleagues when we set out to digitize our organization. A massive amount of work goes into this process, and it is crucial to have everyone on board. For instance, it makes little sense to spend months preparing to implement a data capture system, if none of your colleagues are prepared to use it.

Focus on the people

One of the key themes from the conference was to focus on your people rather than on the tech. Digitalization starts and ends with the people involved in the entire organization. Collectively, we need to optimize our processes and rethink the way we work. It is not an easy task to do, but it is necessary. Changes in internal processes are key.

Several of our fellow attendees are employed with large-scale organizations with more a thousand employees. These organizations have high ambitions in terms of their digitalization. Despite these ambitions, the digitalization takes longer than expected. Of course, there can be many reasons for this. But one of the primary reasons is that it takes time to convert an entire organization. Often, it is a small team who are responsible for introducing the rest of the organization to the new world of digitalization. When your job is to convince a thousand of your closest colleagues to make radical changes to the way they work, you have a long way ahead of you.

It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes all members of an organization to make digitalization a success. It requires making radical changes to our internal processes, and we must focus on the people it will affect. First, we need to understand and accept it and then we need to implement it and make it work. Together.

To be continued

Attending the conference gave us a unique insight into the daily lives of our fellow attendees. We found that whether you are a supplier, operator or an infrastructure owner, we share similar challenges.

Our participation has rewarded us with great takeaways, and we have decided to split them up in two separate articles. The article above, which you have just read, and a sequel which will be published next week. It will address the topic of data being the new oil.

Keep an eye on our news or our LinkedIn page and get the link for the second article.

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