Illumiti Innovation Blog

Mining a Digital Strategy: Change Your Mine-Set & Transform Operations

Date: April 21, 2021
By: Andrew Howell

technology for mining operations

Business continuity and disruption have been prevalent since early 2020. So, when considering a strategy to help your organization move forward and become more resilient, considering the same old, same old way of thinking is not the path. And it’s safe to say that any strategy that doesn't consider a way to prepare your operations post-crisis will be counterintuitive.

Championing change that emphasizes a digital transformation to combat future disruption should be engrained into any strategy.

As we’ve been witnessing the adoption of new and emerging technologies over the years–the Internet of Things, analytics and data systems, artificial intelligence, robotics–it’s hard to imagine any organization not utilizing one or a combination of these to improve any and all elements of their operations. And as we bare witness to the collateral damage of the COVID-10 pandemic, is it safe to ask:

Now is the ideal time to validate your business case for change.

Mining pit view

Upend the traditional operating model

The COVID pandemic has unearthed new issues and challenges. Everyone is looking to technology, now more than ever, to help—tech companies are now seen as a revenue generator and cost controller. Coupled with productivity and efficiency, innovation also ensures safety and compliance are top-of-mind for any mine.

As we witness a shift to remote work and physical distancing, even if considered short-term steps, technology becomes more important. So, consider devising and implementing a blueprint for opening a business to a new economy, one that considers so many factors and looks at people differently—customers, stakeholders, employees, and business partners, they will all impact your decision-making processes like never before.

If your mining operation has already taken the steps to transform digitally, the rest of the organization will understand the larger organizational goals, doing everything necessary to run in an optimal fashion. Essentially, companies add more value to the whole organization as they enable a solution to help the business use technology in ways that are going to help it operate better, not just at scale, but faster for an on-demand economy, for a connected customer, and for a connected employee at the speed of how everything is evolving.


Prioritize the adoption of new ways to work

A novel economy in a new direction seems to be the course many businesses will take, and to venture confidently means making investments in opportunities that will optimize productivity, enhance the customer experience, and better prepare your operations for future disruptions.

For mining operations, greater investments in technology and a mindset toward digital transformation will be key. Investments in innovative products and technologies will be paramount to change, especially considering how the behaviours of customers are changing—ERP software-as-a-service (SaaS), for instance, has promoted extraordinary growth. As new behaviours are sowed all around us, mining operations need to respond as well.

Mines need to strongly consider digital technologies as part of the conversations moving forward, and focus on looking at technology, not as a cost centre, but rather as a means for reducing costs—applying automation, taking advantage of analytics, and implementing new processes.

Beyond the pandemic, mining companies will need to establish a clear, more defined purpose for their long-term value generation—with a digital mindset, they will rethink the approach to talent and culture that will be required to operate in a digital environment and create a suitable atmosphere of continuous innovation.

SAP Business ByDesign on computer


As COVID forces companies to reshape their operating models, leaders need to focus on implementing an agile operating model to deliver meaningful business gains. A digital journey will require a host of actions and controls to help you achieve objectives quickly and at a lower cost of failure. Consider the following:

  • Establish requirements and the means to enforce physical distancing protocols by assessing your operations.
  • Create a digital strategy including a focus on innovation and continuous improvement.
  • Take an approach to building an innovation ecosystem that leverages your talent—an incredible way to respond to a competitive, ever-changing environment.
  • Reassess the nature of your work by determining new scheduling requirements to ensure employees are safe and reconsider employee competencies by redefining their roles and duties.
  • Since change can happen quickly, place a focus on scenario planning that will help you make numerous assumptions of what the future may have in store and how your business can be impacted.
  • Invest in technology and a mindset toward digital transformation.

New ideas are flourishing and companies are reinventing how they work. As the current COVID-19 pandemic lingers, revealing the limitations and deficiencies of seemingly out-of-date business models, we’re clearly witnessing the need, and value, of digital transformation. With the pandemic and its impacts, advancing digital transformation is a necessity to accelerate recovery and create a competitive advantage in a post-pandemic world.

Read our recent articles and discover our perspective on mining and digital transformation strategies and contact us to start a conversation that supports the growth and resiliency of your mining operations.

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Discover SAP Business ByDesign and Empower Your Mining Operations


About the Author

Andrew Howell Head ShotAs a graduate of the University of Ontario’s Institute of Technology, Andrew Howell has focused his career on becoming a senior-level innovation leader and business process engineer in the SAP ecosystem. Andrew currently focuses on transforming businesses by leveraging revolutionary, intelligent technologies which ultimately digitalize their organizations.


About the Author

Andrew Howell

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