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Add these roles to your future org charts

A long-time chief digital officer for some of the world’s largest energy, power, and technology companies, Susan writes about scaling technology, industrial digitalization, and the future of the industrial workforce.

As much as we’d all like to think otherwise, industrial companies are still in their digital infancy, and as we enter a post-COVID era, this is an opportune time to take a hard look at our organizations to see if we have the right roles to succeed in the industrial digital future. Let’s get grounded by examining some of the evolving macro industrial trends.

These trends tell us that while the digital org chart of the future will naturally introduce some new players into the corporate mix, the more common approach will be to ramp up competence in certain areas, such as Industrial DataOps, operations technology, service design, and data analytics.

Image: Susan Peterson Sturm, Alfredo Crescenzi

My predictions for your future org chart

Industrial DataOps leaders: DataOps will move out of governance mode and become a way of work, focused on spreading existing data models to generate more user stories around carbon, security operations, and environmental health and safety. 

Operations Technology (OT) Reference Architects: This group will work between IT and customer teams to deliver secure and efficient ways to scale digital applications across common user stories and connectivity requirements for the OT enterprise.  

Service Designers: In an “anything as a service” (XaaS) world, we will go beyond focusing on the design touchpoint and start thinking about the end-to-end experience of external and internal customers. 

Citizen Data Scientist and Developer Practice Leaders: These leaders will be to IOT what Six Sigma Black Belts were to quality in the 1990s. These folks will be community leaders that will empower others to use big data and code in their daily work.  

I am bullish on the energy organization of the future.

Shifting demographics, the move towards more remote work, and the belief in the transformative power of AI are some of the most influential factors in the future industrial workforce. I believe by strengthening and expanding the digital roles in our team, we will benefit from a more diverse set of people and competencies in industry. This will generate more productivity and creativity across the company, which is needed to succeed in the digital age of industry.   


About Susan Peterson Sturm


Susan Peterson Sturm came into the energy industry for an economic analyst role and never left. 20 years ago, during the boom of merchant power markets in the US, she started her career doing economic analysis of the potential earnings of new power plants for investors and investment banks. This trajectory brought her into the Plant Optimization Group for one of the largest Independent Power Companies in the world, where she provided a digital and economic representation of the physical assets (combined cycle power plants) relative to the markets in which they were located. Her experience at this independent power generation company established her view of what a digital industrial company can be.  

Her mission was to create a single version of operational truth of the power plants relative to the market. Whether the trading floor was deciding which plant in Texas to cycle in low market conditions, what the internal value of acquiring new turbine blade technology would be for the fleet or the expected, relative baseload heat rate of one OEM’s plants vs. another OEM’s plants, the whole company used the same data to answer these questions. While the US’ independent power market experienced a very significant boom-bust cycle, this company is still operating. This commitment to organizational alignment and digital technology played no small part in the company’s resiliency.

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