Are PTC and Rockwell Automation Delivering the Connected Enterprise?

In June 2018 we saw that Rockwell Automation (ROK) made a $1 Billion investment into PTC that will give Rockwell just under a 9% ownership interest in PTC. I decided to wait to look at this. Now here is the time for a review eight months later.

I have made initial snapshots (all separate links) on Schneider Electric, Bosch, GE, Siemens, ABBAlibaba and Baidu to look a little deeper at their platform offerings. I still have to dig into Azure and AWS sometime but this partnership of a leading software provider in the IoT space and Rockwell, dedicated to industrial automation takes precedence, as my primary focus is on platforms and ecosystems in business IIoT.

Rockwell had not responded up to this point in a strategic way to the very strong pushes, led by their largest competitor, Siemens on IIoT platforms. Siemens has been building their Mindsphere offering in their own unique purposeful ways.

This move and partnership between Rockwell and PTC might change the game significantly. PTC will be supplying a real IIoT backbone of platform components and are rapidly delivering an integrated industrial digitalization solution.

Slapping $1 billion on the table really does potentially transform both businesses. Continue reading

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The IIoT digital solution platform market- late 2018 round-up of my observations.

Do you know your platform solution?

Knowing your digital solutions is key to choose industrial platforms, as they might not meet your exact needs

What is under the hood of an Industrial Platform solution? What do you look for?

IIoT Platforms are still under significant construction

How do you judge the platforms that are out there?

Companies have this essential need to build an IoT platform today, or be at least very active partner in one, or even many, to fit their business goals. A platform connects, it connects your world with the rest of the world. Often when we talk about IIoT, it can get easily confused with IoT. Actually, IIoT, grew out of the other, IOT.

IoT is mostly about making the human interaction with the object(ives). IIoT is about connecting devices, sensors, building and improving manufacturing execution systems then applying intelligence and analytics to understand or improve the performance of the existing devices. The aim is to monitor, build parameters, sophisticated controls and search for solutions that will lessen the downtime and improve the productivity of the asset.

McKinsey estimates that the Industrial Internet of Things will create $7.5T in added-value by 2025. IIoT has been valued at around $255b as a market in 2025 (a past GE estimate). These two seem to offer very different estimates. In many ways, we are all confused and still guessing or predicting, because of so much uncertainty and not honestly knowing what comes next in technology invention that changes the position. We have learned, in our engagement and growing reliance just on the smartphone.

We have all learned to adapt and adopt so differently, as we connect more and more. In the IIoT world, there is predicted value across all of the connections (McKinsey view)  and as we see more solutions emerging, as ways to serve that “connected” need market growth will more than likely simply accelerate away. Speed, scale, scope are all accelerating away, and as companies, we need to find our positioning in this evolution and industrial internet. The 4th Industrial revolution is well-under way.

Let me provide a snapshot, my view, of where IIoT platforms-as-a-service sit today. Continue reading

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, that committing too, longer-term. Let us not forget, it is not one, it is a selection of those platform providers that when combined will offer you solutions to a significant part of your solution need. Partly, the decisions considers does depend on which industry you are in, the type of solutions you are looking towards to solve, so as resolve your biggest problems in your digital transformation. Also, you have to consider 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 and edge issues (management, storage, analysis, remote connections) going forward. Continue reading

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