How 'The Big Lebowski' relates to Big Data

Thomas Wilk says tie the room together with these two strategies to coordinate your teams.

By Thomas Wilk, editor in chief

Several of us on the Plant Services team are fans of The Big Lebowski, the 1998 Coen brothers movie. It stars Jeff Bridges as The Dude, John Goodman and Steve Buscemi as his friends Walter Sobchak and Donny Kerabatsos, and The Dude’s living room rug.

It’s more than just a rug of course. It’s the centerpiece of The Dude’s apartment, anchoring an otherwise sparse collection of furniture and possessions. It serves the deeper purpose of helping The Dude hold his life together and keep it (somewhat) organized, a sense of order that is tested after the rug is destroyed in a home invasion. It takes the rest of the movie for The Dude to get his life back in order as he travels all over Los Angeles to force those responsible to compensate him for the loss of the rug.

As Walter says, the rug “really tied the room together.”

In early October, at the 2018 Emerson Exchange event, the Emerson team revealed data from a research project they conducted this year with industry leaders who are responsible for digital initiatives. Despite 90% of respondents stating that it was important, very important, or extremely important to have a clear and actionable in road map for digital transformation, only 20% of respondents said their organization had such a road map in place. That’s a lot of missing or destroyed rugs.

Partly in response to these findings, Emerson has developed a rug of its own: a Digital Transformation Roadmap tool that organizations can use as a self-assessment to help clarify how their plant or facility is leveraging digital technology to improve performance and how far along on the industry-wide transformation spectrum their company has journeyed.

The Digital Transformation Roadmap tool is organized into six focus categories: safety & security, reliability, production, energy & emissions, organizational effectiveness, and systems and data. Each category offers multiple points of reference against which plant managers can measure their progress, and is designed to provide both the visual shorthand and the strategic depth to guide the digital growth of you and your teams.

The rug metaphor came to mind again during a session at the SMRP’s 26th Annual Conference later in October. The session was a case study on how to build a budget that would bridge the maintenance and finance teams. The organization’s solution: Build the budget from the bottom up using a CMMS system to construct a database of standard activities across multiple plants, with a specific cost associated with each activity; then validate that database by conducting in-person interviews to help corroborate all of the standardized cost data. This approach enabled them to get all teams on board to build a first draft of the budget and then start tracking actuals and addressing variances across each cycle.

In other words, they build a continuously improving rug. I hear it really ties the plants together.

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