Bassam Zarkout with IGnPower

Industrial Talk is onsite at the OMG Quarterly Standards Meeting and chatting with Bassam Zarkout, Executive Vice President with IGnPower about “Digital Transformation – trustworthy standards and strategies for implementation success”. The following are some key digital transformation takeaways for our conversation:

  • Digital transformation is a process of using digital technologies to change the way an organization operates.
  • It is a journey that may take time and effort, but it is essential for organizations that want to remain competitive in the digital age.
  • There are three phases of digital transformation: digitization, digitalization, and digital transformation.
  • Digitization is the process of converting analog information into digital form.
  • Digitalization is the use of digital technologies to improve business processes.
  • Digital transformation is the use of digital technologies to create new business models and value propositions.
  • Organizations need to start by assessing their current state of digital maturity and defining their goals for digital transformation.
  • 10:108">They also need to develop a clear roadmap for implementation and measure the success of their initiatives.
  • Digital transformation is not without challenges, but the benefits can be significant.

Here are some additional points that were made in the conversation:

  • 15:134">The term “digital transformation” is often used loosely, but it is important to understand the three distinct phases of the process.
  • 16:117">Many organizations are still in the early stages of digital transformation, but the pace of change is accelerating.
  • 17:103">Organizations that do not embrace digital transformation risk being left behind by their competitors.
  • 18:109">Digital transformation can help organizations improve their efficiency, productivity, and customer service.
  • It can also help them create new products and services and enter new markets.
  • The benefits of digital transformation can be significant, but it is important to carefully plan and execute the process.

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digital transformation, organizations, digitalization, digital, conversation, iot, investing, transformation, change, projects, ign, black sheep, digitizing, digitization, absolutely, understand, decisions, market, industrial, data


Welcome to the Industrial Talk Podcast with Scott MacKenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots, and let's get


all right another great conversation coming to you from industrial talk a platform, a platform that celebrates industry professionals all around the world, because you are bold, brave, and you dare greatly you are collaborating, you are solving problems. And you are making you right there, pointing at the video, making the world a better place. And we are broadcasting on site Q1 O M G meeting, and it is a collection a collection of incredibly smart individuals that are passionate about you, and solving problems. And I want to make sure that you understand, go out to O M You need to get engaged, and you get to meet people like the gent right next to me. Assam is in the hot seat. Let's get cracking. Hi, Scott, how are you back again?


I remember I get to use defensive microphone again.


A fancy because you're a fancy guy with fancy words. Doing fancy things. Yeah, you deserve it. I'm excited. I'm excited to be here. Yeah. Is it? Is it everything that you need? I mean,


it's good, actually. interesting conversations. Yeah. Yeah, casting a lot. sustainability issues and IoT relates to that.


And then some, yeah. And then a lot of other things that are taking place. All right, just the level said, We want to make sure that we understand who Bassam is, just give us a little background real quick, nothing fancy. And then we'll get right into digital transformation. Yeah,


so I have my own consulting practice called IGN power. And I focus on digital transformation in industry as it vertical industries, focusing on IoT, digital twins, AI, etc. And at the industry internet consortium, I chair the digital transformation working group and so active groups as well.


Do you think we're getting to a point when you know, the word digital transformation, it's been a used term, overused, that goes along with IoT, and everything has become some sort of a miscellaneous file for all things. And I think it's a lines are getting blurred? Yeah, actually,


digital transformation has been around for a while. When we were scanning documents, we were digitizing information to use within business processes. But what is new now is that digital transformation is touching now the physical world. So we're digitizing the physical world, the roads, the cities, the buildings, the cars, the planes, the smart factory, and so forth. So this is what is relatively new. Again, it's well underway, but it's relatively new compared to the other stuff.


Do you think that we're doing a good job, relatively speaking, in in, I guess, elevating the conversation around digital transformation, why it's important and why companies need to take this seriously, because I think that there's still there's the, the numbness of, you know, it being discussed all the time. That's one thing. And two is are they taking it serious, because it does truly transform there is in and you've been speaking on it. So help us understand that?


Well, you need to understand that there are three terms that are closely related to each other. But there are three terms, there's digitization, which is taking your analog information, and converting it into a digital information so that you can access it electronically. So that's one second is digitalization, which is to take this information that you have digitized and then making your processes better, faster, cheaper. But then there is the actual digital transformation where you take the results of the first two phases, and you change the value that you deliver to it instead of renting DVDs. You are Netflix now providing unlimited access online to your data. And there are many other examples of such transformation. And that creates totally new value for the market. And for the consumers.


Again, are we are we doing a good job at articulating that and LSA amo on the manufacturer or just for the lack of conversation? Don't Don't make don't make problems for


me. Yeah, the challenge for us manufacturers and for many organizations, not only manufacturers is that the word digital transformation is loosely used to refer to many things sometimes Yeah, it's digitization, sometimes it's digitalization, sometimes it's just the transformation. As far as I'm concerned, whatever the customer wants to call it, he can call it any anything he will he likes. But at the end of the day, there are three distinct phases. You convert your data into analog data, you into digital data, you consume that data into processes, and you improve the processes. And then you can change the outcome. And many organizations in the manufacturing space, for example, are still in the first phase,


I was just going to ask you where do we reside? Yes.


In many places, the shop floor is still heavily dependent on analog information, and they are in the process of transforming those processes into digital processes. So we are in that phase, and for many organizations, that's the endgame that they don't want more than that. They don't want to change what they delivered to the market. But in other organizations, no, that is at the top priority. They want to utilize and leverage this transformation in order to transform the value they deliver to them.


In what's interesting, you brought up something that is just sort of stuck out there. I'm not interested in I'm collecting data, but I'm not interested. I'm not interested in drilling going for forward. I have the ability to do it. But I'm not. I don't I don't understand that. That's the human gut element. Yeah. Sure.


Sure. I mean, especially in manufacturing, there is always reluctance in, in making, if it's working with change. Yeah, no, you're right about that. But there are also competitive pressures. If your competitors could pass, you're not you might not have a choice you need to improve, you need to reduce your downtime, you need to reduce your unplanned maintenance, active, all of these require you to bite the bullet and start investing in digitization, digitalization, you may not want to change you don't you may not want to sell equipment as a service. And that's perfectly fine. But I think digitization digitalization is almost mandatory, you really need to move your organization in that direction, because that's where your competition, that's where the market is gone.


I do say that all the time. And I think that you're spot on, I agree with you 100%. If your competition is investing time, energy, effort, and money and all of this stuff, to become more efficient, and leveraging data and doing it the way they need to do it, then you're going to be left behind. Yeah, we had to stand and I, you know, there's no other way, even as painful it can be, you know, you've got to continue to learn. And and one last thing. I mean, you're available to have conversations.


Absolutely, absolutely. And organizations need guidance to move across that that journey, so to speak, because it is a journey. And it is a journey that may take a bit of time. But it is a journey that has to be clear that has to be justified. And the end game has to be well defined. And what is also happening is that increasingly, organizations want to become digital organizations, not necessarily because they want to change the outcome or something. But being a digital organization prepares you to adapt and adjust and pivot to deal with unforeseen market events. I am pretty sure digital organizations fared better in the market during the COVID crisis than non digital organizations.


Yeah, I think that's backed up by Yeah, fact. Yeah, I mean, I mean, yeah, I'm sure somebody's done a straw study out there. I don't know who but


and again, I cannot generalize, there will always be situations where this is better or that better. But overall, it makes sense to digitize and digitalize and prepare yourself for this changing world and constantly changing.


Okay, so let's, let's venture into that. Where do we start? I mean, I always talk about I don't know where to start. If I'm, if I'm a company, and I hear what you're saying, and I agree with you, but I don't know where to start. That's one. The other thing is I don't know who to trust because, as I, you know, serve the world wide web, I find that there are a lot of people that say that and, and because it's an investment of my time and money. And I want to make sure that I make the right decisions and the right moves and whatever it might be. Take us through what you recommend.


In fact, part of the practice that we have at IGN is an initial assessment. Yeah, where you need to define where you are and you need to ask yourself is a number of very simple questions. What are the pains I have pain? What are the outcomes that I would like to achieve? Yep? Why is transformation? The answer? Maybe transformation is not the answer, right? Everything is transformation? How much am I willing to invest? What's the ROI? These are a number of basic questions that one has to ask himself and try to answer and you may not have the answer to all of them. But the more answers you have to these questions you are, the more you are better prepared to make decisions about when to start and where to go and how fast and who to hire to help you.


Yeah, no, I agree with you. 100%. Now you have you were doing a presentation, give us a little overview on what that presentation was trying to in working to communicate?


Yeah, well, at this at this conference, being the chair of the digital transformation working group I was focusing on? Well, this is digital transformation. And part of the digital transformation initiatives are always IoT projects and twin projects and so on. Now, how do these initiatives support the UN sustainability development goals that have been established in 2015? And they're gaining more and more prominence in the market and organizations from Fortune 100 corporations to smaller organizations? Are all posting strategies and visions about yes, we want to achieve carbon neutrality at 20 feet? Well, what does it mean? How do I measure that? How do I measure success? How do I and they're starting to implement in their cost justification of any project? How much is this project going to contribute to my overall carbon neutrality objective, and they're putting measures and projects are being measured on that and investments are being measured on that on that basis? So we talked a lot about that. During the conference,


there's this there's an I remember you showing me a slide from your deck. white sheep black sheep, that the that the change or where you're at? Yeah, yeah. And how you graphically represent that and help the listener understand a little bit without having we don't have the deck, but maybe he'll let me have the deck and I can just attach it to this doc, God, compensate salutely?


Absolutely, I'll send. So so we said that digital transformation is multiple stages. So you have digitization, you have digitalization, and you have digital transformation. Now, the Digital Transformation Initiative may be at the tactical level, it could be at the production line, it could be at the department at the division. And that's fine. There's nothing wrong with that. But in a large corporation, the digital transformation can also be happening at the enterprise level. So if I'm doing digital transformation at the enterprise level, and I know a few digital transformation CTOs whose job is to shepherd that digital transformation strategies through the organization and report up to the CEO and CFO about the progress and ROI, deliverables and so on, while at the same time looking down at the proverbial down but looking at all the projects that are taking place in the field and understanding Well, I have 1020 projects in the field, this one is aligned with the overall objective this one is, but this one is not. And there is no way we can make it aligned with the overall objective. So that's a black sheep project. So I need to define first of all, what makes a black sheep project a black sheep project and what do I do about do I let it continue? Do I stop it? Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. So the more there is visibility in the organization about all these dynamics, the better prepared is the organization to deal with this overall digital transformation strategy. Like I give an example. My apologies for the Kodak people to pick on them. But they invented the digits not as if it's not out there. They invented the digital camera. Yet, instead of investing in in going in that direction. They felt they were too invested in the film in the analog film, business, and they were building more and more efficient factories to produce film, ignoring the investment they needed to do in this digital direction. And the rest of the system. Yeah, where is Kodak today? Yeah, unfortunately,


yeah. No doubt. Is Kodak even around?


Yeah. I mean, they, they had divisions. They have divisions that produce high end imaging systems. Yeah. You know, medical and other stuff. But, you know, to say, Kodak moment right now we say Instagram moment.


That's true. I've never thought of it that way.


Yeah, that's a prime example of an organization who failed to recognize that there were black sheep projects in the field.


Those are definitely difficult conversations. Yes. Especially, like there's a lot of passion there.


Not only that, it's difficult to convince the CFO who has just decided to invest in it's continuing to go in the direction to tell him, No, we need to go in different this is not an easy conversation. No, it's not an easy conversation.


You know, as I as I have multiple conversations with solutions, and people like you and all of that stuff, I come to realize that it's always a human equation. And if you can crack that code, then a lot of this whole technology and everything just sort of works itself out. It's just sort of odd.


Yeah. And I think, having promoted myself No, but having a burger head, having a professional who understands those dynamics, and can deliver the message to the decision makers so that they make the right decisions. Because the worst thing that can happen is to not be informed enough about the issues that you're facing, and as an executive making the wrong decisions, because you didn't know that this was at stake.


But you know, there's a lot of frustration there. Absolutely. Like, it's just,


absolutely, you'll have politics inside the organization. The


frustration, yes, yeah, it would be just so wonderful. If you could just say, Hey, I think that this is probably the reasons why we need to go with here and not here. These, this is the way the market looks. And this is sort of a black sheep. It's not part of the core, we've decided that, and you know, you're gonna always get pushback and


absolutely, absolutely angry people. Absolutely. But that's what innovation is. And that's why, you know, I was reading an article that if you look at the fortune 100, corporations 50 years ago, and fortune 100, today, there's almost no overlap. Totally different companies. Yeah. And it's going to be like that next year.


And again, which then supports your position that just bite the bullet, digitally, go down this road, figure it out, apply it incrementally, whatever, just move forward down this road?


And in order to make that strategic decision. Play with it. Understand that? Yes. Get your hands wet into this. Yeah. And then you're in a better position. Yes, maybe the decision is to continue the course. That's fine. But at least you've done.


I absolutely agree with you, 100%. But Sam, tell us how we can get a hold of you.


You can get ahold of me, you can go on my LinkedIn account. These are could work on LinkedIn. And you can reach me at And or go to the IGN info website.


There you go. Again, I'll have all his contact information out there. Thank you very much.


And I'll send you that slide.


Yes, and, and out. In out on industrial talk, we're going to have a slight tube. Alright. Once again, we're broadcasting from q1 OMG meeting here in Reston, Virginia. And if you have any questions, comments or concerns, you need to be a part of this particular organization. You get to be great people like this. All right, we're going to wrap it up. Yeah, we're going to wrap it up on the other side, we're going to have all the contact information for Bassam as well as OMG, as well as his organization. So if you're not, no excuse, you'll get in contact us. We'll be right back.


You're listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network.


All right, your call to action is connect with Bassam. He will have all of his contact information out on industrial talk. So just click, it's just a link to his LinkedIn account. Boom, reach out, have a conversation with Bassam and I'm telling you, he knows what he's talking about. We were broadcasting from OMG you need to get involved with They're a collection of very, very passionate individuals focused on solving the today's challenges and creating trustworthy standards so that we, we can succeed. That's That's what OG is all about. So reach out to Find out more. Couple of to do's. We have some webcasts out there. One of aligning your, your logistics with your PF curve. And then the other one is of course utilities and the digitalization associated with that, go out there. Industrial Be bold, be brave, dare greatly hanging out with Bassam. You're going to change the world. We're going to have another great conversation shortened so stay tuned.

Industrial Talk is onsite at the OMG Quarterly Standards Meeting and chatting with Bassam Zarkout, Executive Vice President with IGnPower about "Digital Transformation - trustworthy standards and strategies for implementation success".

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

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