The Evolving Platform Strategies in the Industrial Space

There is far more focus on the consumer platform market where Facebook, Alibaba, Google, etc. all get the publicity and consequential high valuations to their business models. Yet, the size of the Industrial Platform market will be bigger, perhaps not in “eyeballs” but far more in economic value and growth to those that commit to these changes by collaborating through a networked designed platform ecosystem.

Redesigning a specific industry space to adapt and adjust to a platform business model is hard work. The investment in years of building internal systems is rapidly becoming worrying “legacy” issues. The new way to perform in business is through open, collaborative networks of collaborators that achieve far more growth potential by participating in an ecosystem of partners.

Strategic Industrial relationships are radically changing

The old traditional model of being in an accepted supply chain with a narrow set of business partners is rapidly replaced by these core ecosystem IIoT providers who design a knowledge network and platform design that combines the digital world with the physical one.

There are some exciting platform providers where the core design of the IIoT platform has become a strategic partnership. For instance, ABB has linked up with Dassault Systems, GE has combined with Ansys, Rockwell with PTC and Cisco as well as making a strategic platform of services combining Rockwell and Schlumberger services and solutions.

Has Siemens set about building their IIoT platform differently?

Siemens seemingly have set about their platform offering in a slightly different way. They have gone explicitly about building their industrial ecosystem offering through a combination of multiple alliances and strategic purchases. Their strategic investments included Mendix, a leading low-code provider, Comfy for building solution applications. They then layered these into their MindSphere platform to offer solutions, services, software, automation, and complimenting the hardware Siemens has been highly successful in providing for many decades.

Siemens has nearly all of the leading cloud providers in strategic partnerships within its IIoT platform offering. The final choice on which cloud provider is partly determined by the client, in their ‘vested commitments’ in data management tied into certain providers.  These include Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, SAP, IBM, Salesforce, and Alibaba Cloud. To further build out their business ecosystem solutions to clients, they have Strategic alliances with strategic investments in Bentley and Atos as well within their ecosystem design.

Siemens IIoT platform solution is evolving, in my opinion, as the closest in the design of a comprehensive marketplace environment.  The result is a marketplace that combines to offer real-time consulting, in-house or through external partners, throughout the lifetime of any arrangements. An IIoT platform that is providing digitally-enabled solutions and services that serve your specific needs. Delivering through a wide choice of vertical software, a significant development environment, a selection of cloud infrastructure, and a strong emphasis of Edge to Cloud in designing solutions of edge device and control system management.

Understanding your platform providers capabilities and the business ecosystem is essential

Knowing your platform providers’ capabilities and offering is one thing. The critical need goes way beyond what is today’s seen and known; it is how the solutions offer a vital set of building blocks for taking out any business into the future.

The effectiveness of the platform needs to be highly adaptive and be continually evolving. Anything that remains “static” in today’s world is money poorly spent.  The process, the technology deployed, the business logic, the adaptation and customization in as transparent a way possible (open systems) is where you gain sustaining the value and return, as long as it is in a robust ecosystem of like-minded parties that seek long-term strategic partnerships.

Assigning ownership, sharing and trusting requires this Strategic partnership environment

Any redesign of a business into a more open, collaborative one often relates to the “trading off” any new partnerships require. Asking the critical questions of “Who has what responsibility?” “What requires to be shared?”, then precisely at what strategic and operational level of detail and resolving the absolute trust formed between the parties.

So the platform has to allow you ownership of the data and work in partnerships of open transparency to extract the value; it needs to be technology-driven to evolve continually and be highly flexible in design. A platform needs to be also able that the business process is adapted to your needs, not locked in that forces unnecessary system change but promises the evolution to a business process that migrates and evolves. Lastly, here, it needs to demonstrate system customization that liberates your existing (legacy) design and takes you out of digital purgatory.

The exciting aspects of platform offerings today are the ability to model your system, be that plant, machinery, or buildings that can be configured both in the digital and physical world. This adaptive world allows navigation consistently between the digital and physical worlds and align this with the human needs.

The “digital twin” offers a product or physical object to be modeled, then built in a digital space to map its potential in design and production needs. Then it can enter the physical world of actually design and performance optimization. By modeling in a three-step way (product, production, and performance), you gain value in all three stages of planning, producing, and performance. This fusing and merging of the virtual and real worlds (digital and physical) give significant flexibilities in options, realization, and optimization.

The IIoT world of platforms and those providers dedicated to offering a robust technology stack provide applications, modeling capabilities, platform service, and the level of data repository and evaluation that one individual company is improbable to achieve on their own.

What are the returns?

Firstly the ability to escape from legacy purgatory, the chance to evolve, and be part of a vibrant platform providers ecosystem of collaborators to ‘propel’ your business into the future through broader avenues to collaboration.

The right IIoT platform provider is highly conscious of designing into their solution, offering as much in flexibility and enhanced productivity as they can provide. This flexibility of design offers lasting attractiveness and multiple future opportunities in opening new Business Model options or revamping the existing business design in more adaptive ways than previously possible.

The potential of “as-a-service” for delivering specific outcomes

Imagine building into your future business, thinking all the possibilities of shared services? Structuring specific outcomes, built around a host of new and different insights that come from data mining, can open the opportunities for new business model design, having access to constant software updates managed outside your environment. Maybe, renting equipment on a usage for a guaranteed set of years and maintained, as against buying based on mutual evaluation of the data generated through the platform.

Adaptive solutions that enable a business to change its processes, systems, and have different levels of productivity in the flexibility of design and offering. Ones that are providing outcomes that have the chance to accelerate time-to-market, as well as continue to deliver increasing effectiveness and efficiencies needed to offer a sustaining, evolving business future.

The relationship becomes increasingly strategic.

Treating your platform choices is no different from the importance placed in the past on the ERP systems. The difference is these are outward-looking, highly collaborative, and not inwardly driven. The nature of business today is its highly dynamic nature and increasing volatility. These require greater insights and different perspectives in a trusted place where you can share performance or knowledge to mutually improve a network of partners business needs.

The need is to be flexible, adaptive, and ensure you can be responsive to changing markets at scale and speed. The attraction of working within highly collaborative environments the services offered need to be highly adaptive and responsive to the client requirements. The solutions have to be adapted to the need of that moment, be it in a Coronavirus pandemic where the volatility is extreme to be capable of supporting the evolving of the business to take advantage of the immediate demands to scale and deliver to sudden surging market requirements.

This responsiveness requires a platform configuration that can be as adaptive as the needs of the business model the client has and foresees in the future.

When you look at IIoT platform providers it is not just what they are offering in the technology stack but in how comprehensive the services are that are offered. Your choice of an IIoT platform provider is one that is a “true” partnership in the design collaboration, that acts and respond in this networked ecosystem way, it is the future way to manage.

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