The confusing world of IIoT platforms needs to change in 2019

I feel 2019 will be a make or break year for the platform providers for IIoT solutions. We are getting a real sense of clarity on who is leading the pack, who is struggling to keep up and some becoming real laggards, that need to change their game dramatically to stay in the platform hunt.

Clients need to come off their fence in where to invest and make some defining I(I)oT decisions. Yet to allow this to take place we need a far greater clarity of the value and real positioning of the platform providers. We need to extract the real business value understanding and ditch all the “hype” that is drowning out the real understanding. Ditch the noise, increase the signal

When you look at this top fifteen provides you can break them out between those coming from the industrial solution providers (Siemens, Schneider Electric, Bosch, GE Digital, Hitachi) and those coming from a technology conglomerate positioning  (AWS, Microsoft) those that are well known for specialised offering in technology solutions (IBM, SAP, Oracle, Cisco, Atos) and those that give perhaps greater specialised IoT focus in their business model (Software AG, PTC,C3 IoT)

How do you choose between these for your own solutions?

One thing enterprises struggling with is who to go with, commit into. Let us not forget, it is not one, it is a selection of those platform providers that combined offer you solutions to a significant part of your solution need. Partly, this depends on which industry you are in, the type of solutions you are looking to, so as resolve your biggest problems in your digital transformation, and the technology providers you have built a history with, often equally caught up in legacy issues, or those you determine will be best at managing your cloud issues (management, storage, analysis) going forward. Continue reading

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Wrapping yourself around IoT software stacks. Not easy to digest.

Software stacks. This conquers up a certain mystery for me, so I decided to order up a plate to see if I can digest all they seem to be offering.

I am constantly reading about “stacks” when it comes to technology design. The IoT stack is becoming the “Thing Stack”. Really? Need to understand that.

Technology has layers that constantly are adding (stacks) of complexity. Each layer needs to be designed to integrate and communicate with the other layers in the stack.

So far so good for a layman like me but lets now dig in.

It is when we get to the open question of “what is a full stack” it gets more complicated.

This possibly means how much can you eat (consume), how hungry you are or how complicated your business is to determine the needs of a “full stack. Hence why I went for my pancake stack as you are always asked: “how big a stack do you want?” Continue reading

Moving Towards a New Innovation Movement around Ecosystems.

Ecosystems in our business thinking have suddenly become of age, they can enable cross-cutting innovation to be delivered in highly collaborative and dynamic ways. Understanding the value of working within an ecosystem is becoming critical to understand.

Ecosystems can offer, through collaborating on a shared platform, closer relationship with cross-industry partners and more importantly, the final customer.

Sharing, exchanging and deepening the understanding of different needs and experience through increased collaboration, and engagement opens up innovation to a whole new dimension of more radical innovation. We are seeing a shift in innovation cooperation with this ecosystem design approach and we are all working through the implications of this from a process, structure, architecture and design point of view. It changes our internal perspectives and opens these up to a diverse external influx of knowledge and different understanding.

The more we are connecting and collaborating, seeking out joint opportunities for business, there is this realization that there lies a really powerful network effect for value-adding in participating in these ecosystems, for finding and sharing in new economic opportunity. This calls for some radical rethinking of the existing business and deciding the design of the future business. Continue reading

Innovation is Changing Partly Due to the 4th Industrial Revolution

There are twin forces at work, feeding off each other. We are facing greater disruption and an increasing innovation pace. These are constantly combining, relentlessly adding a new shape to our future. We are actually caught up in a very revolutionary period.

The days of simple product innovation are dwindling. It is through the fourth industrial revolution (also known as Industry 4.0), currently being undertaken, that technology, talent, and new innovation ecosystems are emerging – building greater complexity into our final innovation offerings. Intelligent automation and technology are fueling this new industrial revolution. And this unprecedented, exponential pace of change is increasingly reliant on collaborative platforms to realize the result: more radical innovations.

Innovators struggle to manage in a new way

Organizations everywhere are facing mounting pressure to transform – to shift from product-centric business models to new models focused on creating and capturing different sources of new value, resulting in new, far more connected, Business Model offerings that can transform their business. As a result, innovation is becoming more complex, it is capable of breaking issues down through a greater collaboration and connected environment.

At the heart of this transformation is the fourth industrial revolution. Here, manufacturing is fast becoming the digital manufacturing enterprise (DME). The DME is designed to increase response rate and manage in more efficient, connected, and effective ways. There is this growing recognition that everything needs to be connected to bring a different perspective to any global value chain –one of being far more responsive and bringing manufacturing closer to the customer need. Continue reading

How Open Is Open? Check it out.

The broad use of ‘open’ does seem to have very different interpretations, especially when it comes to platforms or cloud-ready architecture.

Two examples for me in my research recently, needed some “airing” as the openness (excuse the pun) gives me a higher level of comfort. I wish others would state what openness really means in their offerings.

The two I have been drawn to are Aras and their open architecture platform for PLM and the other is Bosch with their IoT platform.

Let me take quotes from both to underpin that real clarity I believe the client would want before they go into a partnership. Today so much is banded about upon “lock-in” when you commit to platforms, it sort of scares of many potential clients wanting to have platform solutions, from making that investment. Trust and confidence in what you are actually signing up for, is needed to be fully transparent. Goes to say but is it?

In my view only having one platform provider is not the right path, it is a range of providers, selected because they can cater to your jobs and needs, not you having to fit into their architecture but it is this openness that significantly needs to be looked at closely. Continue reading

Defining Ecosystems in Industry

In a recent exchange, actually, on twitter, we were discussing definitions of platforms for IoT or IIoT. This was to shape a story to be told. We got into the “how” to position them and in these exchanges, we eventually arrived at the question of Ecosystems, of “What defines ecosystems within an industry?”.

There is growing value in engaging in business ecosystems and let me offer the “why” and move you through the “what” towards the “how.” I felt it needed my “take” on defining Ecosystem design for Industry.

The present growing use of the word “ecosystem” has been born or borrowed (for industrial use) from ecology but it is not appreciating the understanding as well as it should do. We in an industry do need to understand this, embrace it and interpret it in this ecological way, or design the Eco-friendly intent in a clear, game-changing way, that allows us to move forward at higher increased rates of change.

So the issue is what does make up an Ecosystem and make it stand apart and be valued for what it brings. Continue reading

Great Apps will deliver the future business value in IIoT

Technology is radically altering our need for innovation. We see increasingly innovation is feeding off the “digital response rate” and how we build and design the application software will transform IIoT as it has for our personal world (B2C), where we download apps on a daily basis to solve a problem or to improve our understanding.

So what is an app? An app is a modern term for a software application, and it is most often used in reference to a mobile app or a small piece of software that runs on a website. It has made significant inroads into B2C offerings, less so on B2B.  It’s typically used to describe anything that isn’t a full-fledged software program, but even that line has become blurred by those developing this apps become more creative and ta into value points for specific application. Typically apps sit on a platform and we download them or simply access them.

The capabilities of these apps vary greatly today, but some companies have started to push the boundaries of what these apps can do, turning the devices into fully functional work tools. Mobile-device management software will explode within the IIoT space. As we grow more enterprise networks the market for smart devices and/or embedded intelligence production processes will see an increase in growth. Apps will allow for a greater building out of our diagnostic needs as well as enable smart nodes. They will assist to combine experience-based knowledge with contextual automation device data and solve problems quicker as a team or send this specific data for analysis and response.

Connecting technology and innovation is altering how we should re-access organizations ability to build out. We are in the middle of a technological-led industrial revolution It is becoming highly dynamic. Apps are a critical part of the building block.

Using an app with new innovations and approaches can provide new functions by tapping into the local power of devices where tablets and smartphone operate as mini-supercomputers on site that is full of sensors, and designing specific apps to explore capabilities and rapidly “feedback” data that has potential value, often called “event management” or experience understanding. Continue reading