Automated Decision Management as a Strategic Asset in the Digital Era


To my knowledge, ABT Power Management’s leadership team did not read the book, Leading Digital, when they applied a decision management system using IoT data from battery sensors to their business processes. But their actions were scarily aligned with the much of the book’s checklist at the end of the chapter on, “How to Start your Digital Vision.” The chapter recommends:

  • Identify bottlenecks or headaches – in your company and in your customers – that resulted from the limits of old technologies, and consider how you might resolve these problems digitally
  • Consider which of your strategic assets will remain valuable in the digital era
  • Craft a compelling and transformative digital vision
  • Ensure the vision specifies both an intent and an outcome
  • Make the digital vision specific enough to give employees a clear direction, while giving them the flexibility to build on it
  • Constantly be looking to extend your vision using the capabilities you have created

Here’s how ABT, unknowingly but expertly, applied these recommendations.

Identify Bottlenecks or headaches

The decision management system removed the bottleneck of relying on rare expertise to maximize battery life and the headache of having to manually wrangle the data for analysis. With automated decision management the best expertise is applied to the freshest information, all the time.

Consider which strategic assets will be valuable in digital era

ABT did not consider its physical assets strategic; it wanted to leverage its intellectual assets. Digitizing their experience in extending battery life was important for their growth strategy. Their their predictive maintenance trade secrets are a strategic asset of their Guaranteed Power® business model.

Craft a compelling and transformative digital vision

Their vision was to remove the friction of collecting information by using Microsoft Azure to collect and store the data from the sensors in their batteries and chargers out at the customer’s locations. This familiar IoT pattern enabled a new business process based on digital capabilities, including automated decision management, so rare expertise could be automatically be applied to new customers and sites.

Ensure the vision specifies both an intent and an outcome

The intent was to allow ABT to grow without incurring the costs of training new technicians and suffering the consequences of mistakes made by an inexperienced remote workforce. The ideal outcome was automated governance of maintenance activities that automatically self-adjusted, based changing conditions and a constant review of its own performance.

Make the digital vision specific and flexible

The champion/challenger experimentation available in the SMARTS decision management tool provides the flexibility needed for employees to participate in collaborative experimentation that builds upon the existing expertise. Each cycle of experiments allows the employees to constantly research and improve the company’s performance.

Extend your vision using capabilities you have created

SMARTS decision management allows ABT to rapidly create new processes and rules to exploit any emerging trends painted by the high-density dashboards and visualizations that are also essential elements of their digital vision.

See decision management in action

If you want a peek at ABT”s decision management in action, then watch this segment of a recent webinar where Colleen McClintock, Vice President of Products at Sparkling Logic presents SMARTS. In the 12 minute clip Colleen provides an introduction to SMARTS using a simplified predictive maintenance scenario, similar to ABT.

Peter Darragh

Peter Darragh

Vice President of Delivery at Mariner
In his business development capacity Peter helps executives evaluate the impact digital investments can have on their business models and operations. In his delivery role, he manages the teams that apply their data integration, analytics, process automation and machine learning expertise to make our customers digital masters.

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