Facing the future- the galactic war of IIoT platforms moves into its next phase

So Hannover Messe 19 (#HM19) is behind us. The pavilions are being pulled down, some stored away for use next year.

The buzz, excitement and the sheer energy and effort, that thousands put into their role as part of this event, is amazing. The exhibitor, like the committed visitor, ends up exhausted, even ‘spent’ but was it worth it?

The “housing” under HM19 of so many competing forces within Industry all vying for attention is overwhelming. It reminds you of how competitive and confusing all of this transformation stuff is. So conflicting actually.

The memories can be fleeting or they can be lasting. In the end, they nudge us all nearer to decisions, these sort of events help us to become more informed. what we lack is a better way of containing all we have learned so we can filter it, sort it and relate the multiple messages to our own needs. Not easy but “do-able” in better ways than we have today. The “return on investment” gets better if we can make connections into “connected stories” I have some thoughts on these but that is for another time. Let’s get into this piece.

What is holding my interest is the increasing “intensity” in the Industrial platform providers. How they are setting about their sales pitch, their proposition, their place within their solutions solving your needs. It is a rapidly evolving one, that is challenging all IIoT platform solution providers to keep up the unrelenting pace to be seen as leading in this area. This is a very expensive race. How can clients determine that their solutions are the right ones, pitching their Industrial Platform solutions for the IIOT world? It is a highly competitive time, yet I predict with the next twelve to twenty-four months, will be a make or breaks time, for many platform providers.

We are I feel, moving into a breakthrough in so many solutions that make up the digital transition puzzle. Yet due to this very competitive positioning, it seems we are caught up in some very fragmented marketing of self-justification claims, that leave many potential clients utterly confused. We need far better-organizing frameworks, some dialing down on the hype and rhetoric and some thoughtful and constructive messaging from all these IIoT platform providers. Will they, is another story but the battle of IIoT platforms has only just begun.

I have written recently about,  in two recent posts “Digital transformation is our place of purgatory today“.and Entering the Fray Differently in Industrial IoT Platform Solutions”

The chase is seriously on to capture the hearts, minds, and wallets of clients all still working out where platform solutions fit within their business today.

I have to keep going back to this “galactic war of platforms “

There are multiple battles occurring in the Product Lifecycle Management space (PLM) that are all about connecting product development with manufacturing and automation. The ability to achieve this seamless process lies in IIoT platforms as data is everything, masses of the stuff. PLM is a vital part of all the platform thinking. Platforms are certainly the centerpiece for industrial development, management and realization. The whole connecting up is a very tough, expensive and challenging necessity, to get the level of return (ROI), for the investments required. It is ambitious and demanding.

The chase is to automate the entire value chain from the customer, responding to their demands so this knowledge can flow through the entire system, not just within one company but across an entire ecosystem of companies all working on their parts of the final solution. The platform provides the connection into the ecosystem

Today, the chase is moving from conceptualization into proven reality. The entire PLM system linking product development systems with manufacturing systems is the “industrial holy grail” to provide solutions that are “all-embracing” but to get to this is a quest we are still working through. It often seems confusing and difficult to conceptualize.

The trigger is achieving the transformation to the industrial revolution 4.0 (Industry 4.0). Just take a look at my post “Finally a framework to manage holistically Industrial Revolution 4.0 with the recently announced “Smart Industry Readiness Index Prioritization Matrix“, to see how complex this is.

Digital & technology are putting huge pressure on manufacturing to change, promising fast, responsive product realization, demanded by customers as a major compelling reason to change and fully automate the processes, with the specter hanging over you of “too stay in the competitive race”. Design interactions that are becoming more tailored to individual preference have shifted the thinking dramatically away from mass production. Achieving a faster response rate to demand needs a very different, far more robust and integrated system. This is possible but it is hard, transforming journey that most are still grappling with.

Today the need is to connect IT (internet technology) and OT (operational technology). We need greater convergence towards digital technology and to enable any transformation of industrial activity you must work towards integration to have in place this open, end-to-end digital portfolio to work through. It is a tough, demand and time-consuming journey if you want to achieve that “flexible” platform.

The hard work is understanding the digital backbone that works specifically for you.

As you experiment and invest you begin to see a changing business model, this transformation embraces the entire company. You begin to see competitiveness in different ways, it is not just delivering the right product on demand it is the realization that flexibility, speed, and productivity upends so many traditional parts of your existing value chain. It is a jigsaw.

The shift on the shop floor that is possible to integrate robots, deploy increased automation so you can provide this mass production still in economical ways but aimed to achieve the mass individualization demanded today from your customers needs major investment, re-orientation, and reliance on connecting “everything” up.  To achieve this is the competitive edge, or you hope, so you can still achieve component parts in large quantities but push down the process to achieve smaller finish batches that can customize to individual orders in shorter lifecycles is a massive transforming change for many and continue to make improving profits. It is a real chase each manufacturer has to decide how to undertake this.

When you consider the sheer investments in manufacturing made over the years you see the potential for massive redundancy. This becomes daunting. Closing each loop in the process to make it “digital”, connected and responsive to change is beyond many to consider. Do they become part of the “Darwinian” effect of the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

In the past industries went through different phases and this one is as significant as any.

The globalization effect has been underway for many years. The tough decisions to close down complete production plants to “start again” has been occurring for many years. There is a time of realization that “sinking” more into a rapidly aging plant makes less economic sense. I can remember the shock emerging from the board in consolidating plants, building ones more highly automated, in completely different locations. Legacy was dealt with in dramatic ways. This level of decision-making needs to take place across many different industries today is abandonment and fresh investments. It is this sort of “dramatic” decision we are waiting on as a consequence and realization fixing parts of the old system is good enough short-term but not robust enough for the longer term.

So today we are tackling the interim, in working on so many digital solutions to keep existing manufacturing moving up and along but will these be robust enough for the longer term?

As we learn to model factory simulation, gather data and investigate virtual commissioning solutions we are entering the digital twin world of virtual and physical. The reality is decisions being worked up are not filtering up the entire decision-making chain. Many boards are simply accepting investment decisions recommended by engineers, production or product management as the only solution. They are not. These might be extending the life of the existing plant, these might enable a short-term “leaping strategy” over competitors but are they the right solutions or options for the long-term sustainability or just a very long “grind” of non-stop investments bolting on the latest solution? Complexity gets layered on often by default and expediency. We need to stop and review.

The galactic IIoT war to capture the heart mind and wallet of manufacturers needs rethinking.

We have three really important players or partnership combinations that will heavily influence the transformation being undertaken in the Industrial world. There are others like Scheider Electric or Bosch that are really valuable but the emerging three, about to “slug it out” in this galactic war for Industries hearts, mind and wallet are Siemens, ABB/ Dassault, and PTC/Rockwell. See my recent post “Entering the Fray Differently in Industrial IoT Platform Solutions” is to give you a short introduction to the “warring fractions”

Siemens took a theme at the Hannover Messe 2019 called “Thinking industry further,” emphasizing the need to think about the changes needed for transitioning to solutions for Industry 4.0. They want to think about the next stage of this digital transformation. The emphasis for this is the strong convergence of OT and IT.

I was caught by surprise when a question asked of Mr Klaus Helmrick, the Board Member of Siemens AG and CEO of their Digital Industries business at HM19 of what is the present status of Siemens Mindsphere, he replied “we have 90 partners, 1,000 customers and 250 apps” and they have built around 1,000 use cases. The Link is here on his one hour talk, that are always very thoughtful and measured. Why do I highlight this? I expected far more customers. So what is holding back the majority in committing to IIoT platform solutions as Siemens is regarded as the leading one. The numbers were sobering but realistic, on perhaps where we really are, in the adoption and transformation curves of the momentum of platforms and what they offer as significant value over our existing systems. I would still say we are in the early adopting and learning stage.

So we are about to enter the next phase of these galactic wars from the IIoT Digital Solution Providers

This for me will centre around developing the complete suite of transparency between product development and manufacturing and communicating this “connected” story. The information and knowledge source that connects the customer demand with the delivery of their need with their custom solution. This has been promoted as the new “experience economy”.by Dassault’s CEO Barnard Charles. He suggests this is “the new economy that drives the value of the usage first, as opposed to the value of the product or the things we produce, or even the services we provide” He feels the center of gravity in value creation is taking place to the emphasis on usage as paramount to serve. This makes sense to me.

This becomes the next battle point where the leading solution providers have to emerge, offering the connected solutions to this new “experience economy”. It is combing data and insights across the entire value-creating process. Does Siemens, PTC/Rockwell or ABB/ Dassault today have this capability in-house to achieve this? I think no. They are missing the front end, they are missing the ability to design a completely new Digital Enterprise Resource Planning without real assistance or lots of fresh investment. Do Microsoft, Oracle or SAP hold part of this solution? Perhaps.

It is now about the entire scope of product realization.

This is covering all the aspects of industrial activity from capturing ideas, validating them through customer insights and prototyping, then transforming them into designs, breaking down the visualization of their parts and value, distributing these to the respective solution providers to take product design to manufacture. That is increasingly moving this through the virtual and physical world of visualizing the finished product, validating it with “selected customers” then moving this into production (virtual and physical), where concept thinking has been finally turned into reality, and the building of flexible production design is built-in to customize solutions, that respond to the customer needs in faster, more adaptive ways. This entire process chain being “seamlessly” connected up is huge to achieve the synchronization that is needed. Imagine all of today’s different systems built up over years needing the individual resolution to make this synchronization to happen, let alone keeping pace with technology advancements, occurring every day. Mind-boggling.

It is the solution provider who can deliver this total solution across multiple industries is going to be the winner of this round of the digital transformation. How it is communicated, validated and constructed in roadmaps that clients can finally get their heads around. Is this Siemens, or the partnerships/alliances of ABB / Dassault and or PTC/Rockwell one? Perhaps the outsiders of Schneider Electrics, Bosch or alliances of HPE, IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, SAP, Oracle all forming imaginative alliances that can “leapfrog” over the others, in the capabilities each can bring to the Ecosystem of the design needed.

There is an awful lot to play for but there is a significant number of twists and turns along the way. Who will lead, be fast followers or lag behind? It is a race to design the “total” solution to offering industry 4.0 solutions that connect the current or break the mold for the new manufacturing approach.

It is fast becoming the decision time for the manufacturer, or is it?

Do they make major investment decisions in investing in “greenfield sites” purposely built on new Digital Factory designs or continue to invest in existing infrastructure, where the continued and ongoing challenges are optimizing the present investments, not knowing when the investments stop? Both are choices of “return” and will be the decisions that make Industry Revolution 4.0 a make or break, like other revolutions before. Full of emerging winners and plenty of losers that chose wrongly.

The manufacturer cannot leave decisions of investment to IT alone. The growing cost of offsetting redundancy, of bridging the existing with solutions based on complete connectivity of the whole system should not lie in the IT / OT management hands. The decision for the future of the whole process of a company should lie at board level. They need to decide to continue to invest, decide to write off the cost of redundancy or invest in something completely new, fit for this century in digital design which becomes the cost of opportunity. These are decisions that will make or break many companies. The board needs to equip itself with all the impact of what the Industry Revolution 4.0 actually does mean.

Whose solutions will sway the decision? Will Siemens determined to keep development in-house through acquisition, or ABB / Dassault or PTC/ Rockwell through their recognition that partnerships that give powerful combinations will move them ahead. It is all to play for in this emerging “galactic war of IIoT platform solution providers” or will the reliance on strategic consulting advisors (McKinsey, PwC, Deloitte) determine the decisions or will the alliances formed at IioT platform level with Accenture, Cap Gemini, HPE, Tata detc., who will influence the choice.

Hannover Messe was full of lots of possible solutions but not yet at the point of proving complete answers to the many strategic questions still to be addressed at corporate levels inside most manufacturers,. We are still “playing” at the edges, caught in digital purgatory  and the IT / OT senior group attempting to get the critical attention of the board for the (huge) level of investment this will mean

Let the further battles play out in the IIoT platform war we are witnessing. It is a very combative place to be.






One thought on “Facing the future- the galactic war of IIoT platforms moves into its next phase

  1. Pingback: So CX + DX needs IX for the transformations we need | Paul4innovating's Innovation Views

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