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.
How we develop Apps will build out further the B2C side but will rapidly expand into central solutions for B2B
A recent announcement by Siemens, where they announced the acquisition of Mendix, the Low-Code providers, for the explicit purpose to combine Mendix with Siemens MindSphere, claiming it has the potential to cover off all elements of the Smart App Stack. That got my attention. Rapid deployment of Smart Apps is arriving for B2B.
“The bold intention is to create a unified, AI-assisted developer experience with deep integration of the event management, data and analytics services of MindSphere into Mendix, to create the world’s leading Low-Code and (Industrial IoT platform” (Mindex Quote).
Well, statements like this at the very moment of acquisition, always are designed to catch our attention, I mean why else do we have a thriving M&A for businesses than not to claim the inherent sense of the takeover or merger is going to be paved with bold intentions?. Sadly, many do not live up to the promise. Will this one be any different? Early indications might point to it being a successful one.
Why? Well, the confidence comes mostly from the acquirers’ side and that is often a healthier indication. They (Mendix) saw the takeover gives them a real chance to accelerate in low-code with stronger R&D investments and geographical expansion. They also saw a combination of Mendix and Mindsphere creating a digital operating system for the physical world into some very different real-time business value, and thirdly, Mendix gets to develop, build and deeply integrate industry SaaS solution due to Siemens (unprecedented) deep industry know-how, network, and expertise.
What greater validation that this, that this takeover has the “legs to run” was that Siemens offered Mendix a lot of autonomy, significant financial backing and the wish to see the present roadmap deepen, broaden and keep Mendix strongly in a leadership position. Medix will build out their existing IoT (B2C) and have a parallel “arc” of IIoT (B2B) opportunity.
Having available a low-code rapid application development platform can change the game for MindSphere. The emphasis on the visual-development process to minimize hand-coding allows for more intuitive ways to build apps. The pressing need for MindSphere was to really build out their Apps Store, and in having available out-of-the-box templates, widgets, plug-ins, business components and different connectors to emerging technologies allows customers to create their own app solutions. It will attract clients into the platform as the real lasting focus is full app lifecycle support and greater scale for deployment. This adds a real value proposition to MindSphere.
So lets clear up what low-code is about.
Low-code is a visual development approach to rapid application development that enables developers of varied experience levels to create applications for web and mobile, using drag-and-drop components and model drive logic through a graphic user interface. Low-code application allows for a full range of app types for multiple use cases that you, as client need to help run your business. Apps cover upgrading legacy applications to Customer facing and Operational IoT-enabled smart apps.
A new strand of innovation thinking come into view: the one based on digital and technology enabled
So I got interested and turned my curiosity firstly, into a Three Horizon Action Mapping Framework seeing horizon one accelerating what Mendix has, horizon two exploring and combining with Mindsphere and integrating and delivering more IIoT solutions, alongside IoT ones, and horizon three, accelerating into this real-time business value they spoke about. I got a lot out of that mapping that is continuing to take my thinking out.
In one recent post I offered up a view on “A Feast of Opportunities for Siemens” I felt we might be seeing a new platform dawn; one of a “Smart Platform, full of smart apps designed to seek out experience, not just data”
This SMART is going to be potentially in Mendix parlance: “context-aware”, “intelligent connected” and “pro-active” in intelligence outcomes.
So I have spent a little time on thinking about the place of “Apps” on our IoT journey.
I felt Siemens had been lagging in the development and delivery of Apps for Mindsphere and the more I read the more I realized the crucial importance they (Apps) will have. Apps unify much in how they are designed, implemented and offered on platforms for the value clients need to extract. Often it is forgotten that it is not the ability to connect, the data or even the analytics where most of the current IoT play focused, they need to focus on delivering business value and extracting the experiences.
This new business value comes in efficiency, new products and services and equally where you can build out new business models. We so often get lost in back-end or front-end discussions, led by technicians, managing the dynamics and tensions of that constant pull between software engineers and hardware engineers, we forget the critical end outcome, it is not device management but what you extract out of it, in new business value.
To get to this new “experience” point is often forgotten in this mass of data or focusing on the designed outcome you expect. Having a clear digital outcome strategy that determines value not what we are connecting up is important. Developers get caught up in the details, rightly so, to deliver on a connected world but you must always ask the “what for?”
Apps will deliver the innovation and experience.
The need for applications that are required to manage the internal facing application needs as well as the customer-facing ones need rapidly accelerating. Apps need to be equally client-sided and server-side. Applications in the IIoT world have been focusing on the server-side providing remote provision (sensor communication), troubleshooting devices, monitoring the health and effectiveness of devices, reporting on performance and predictive maintenance (server-side). That has been Internal application provision.
Customer-facing is more on this shifting the application development from what is termed the bottom of the stack, sensors, connectivity and data as the ‘basic building blocks’ into client serving ones. IoT (B2C) is well-ahead of IIoT (B2B). Industrial apps need more client service ones to capture “experience”, the user and market building understandings so business solutions become more ‘front-facing’ looking to add significant new innovating value. Just take a look at how Apple and Salesforce have built their “apps store”. We need a similar IIoT apps store.
Connectivity, data and even analytics are absolutely necessary but they on their own do not deliver business value. It is going to be that combining effect to make the experience level available to see, that delivers the new business model. We need to capture, understand and rapidly translate “experiences” into solutions that capitalize on innovation.
These applications that are needed are more at the front-end.
I like the way Mindex breaks out it’s offering into five focus points for their need in internal focus. The application designs need to not just tackle Customer Engagement Apps, the current high growth area for Mindex but they need to tackle more robustly the Operational Efficiency Apps as the one highly needed in Industrial IoT. They have identified the very tough nut of building solutions for Legacy Migration Apps as another of their focus points.
The legacy trap, so many enterprises are caught in, is the really big and current constraint or bottleneck, to not achieving the Industrial 4. 0 Revolution we expected. It is modernizing legacy systems without disruption and cracking this will be the acceleration and adoption point for IIoT solutions that need to move towards, managing through platforms for their radically different business model.
If applications can be built out that enables legacy and more rapid operational efficiency connection then we are going towards Mindex’s own ‘top of stack’, Innovation Apps. Those innovation apps that do provide the new Smart Apps that unify, exploit and extract to enable AI to truly kick in to deliver the real need of business. The Business Value Extraction as Experience gets “baked into all applications” going forward into our application solutions. This gives both the back-end and front-end the real innovation acceleration point for extracting new business value, the “stack of all stacks”
Smart apps offer the potential of intelligent capture and translation by capitalizing on machine learning and AI. They are placing systems into more contextual settings, highly personalized and increasingly proactive where the ability to “push and pull” comes into effect, to proactively engage with users to provide recommendation and deliver closer to their experience need. The new insights drive increasing change.
A new word of Smart Infrastructure Set of Applications
Hence my view of the world ahead of having a “Smart Infrastructure Set of Applications” sitting on a platform for clients to build their own systems emerges. As I look towards:
“A Smart platform full of smart apps giving all the points of connected insight, new avenues to alternative thinking, integrated design, and new business value from radically different options for future business models.”
The exploration of “apps” in the IIoT world can dramatically be newly defined. As we step away from thinking “apps” as applied in the Business to Consumer world (B2C) the potential for application in the Business to Business world (B2B) where the value of rapid deployment, quick and lightweight solutions, either at the edge being feed in, or drawn down from the cloud to apply and find solutions, will change the business value of apps as we know them today, significantly
Now that is a very different proposition than the one offered today by IIoT platform providers Who will get there and offer that radically different platform design? It is going to be the ones that see and seizes the possibilities and cracks the APP needs, ones that extract value and build out the technology design and information needs in a comprehensive manner. Today all are a work-in-progress but it must be exciting work. A whole new Apps frontier is opening up in the IIoT space.