September 5, 2014

Industrial IOT : 6 Key Transitions

Engineering firms are going undergoing a fundamental transition. In fact Flutura from its global industrial IOT engagements in last 2 years has distilled out 6 core transitions at play . Depending upon the vertical (utility,heavy engineering, oil n gas) and market ( advanced / emerging) each of these transitions have different velocities and more importantly these transitions are irreversible. So what are the 6 key irreversible transitions which are accelerating and gaining momentum in the fast changing market place?

Transition-1 : From Engineering to Intelligence
Looking at an an engineering product, thru the eyes of a customer, one can differentiate a product on the engineering dimension or the intelligence dimension. Which provides more headroom to impact the consumers perception of value in the product - the intelligence or the engineering ?
For example, the car is a classic example where the headroom available to impact customer using intelligence far exceeds the headroom available to impact using engineering. Its relatively easy in the auto industry to create customer "wow" by providing mileage intelligence, personalised car settings or "Onstar" like remote intelligence than by a disruptive change to engine design
Transition-2 : From Data Streams to Revenue Streams
Is the increase in data streams matched by a corresponding increase in revenue streams ?
For example, in building management systems, with the decreased cost of instrumentation of assets like boilers, chillers , lifts etc there is going to be an explosion in data streams. The key question is whether these explosion in data streams also results in an increase in revenue stream from newer business models around remote monitoring, predictive maintenance etc.
Transition-3 : From Loosely coupled IT-OT systems to Tighter IT-OT coupling
There are 2 worlds in Engineering industries - the Operational Technology world of SCADA/PLC/Historians and out of condition monitoring software where ownership is with engineering and the world of business applications where CIO organisations own it
For example, in the oil and gas industry condition monitoring systems and process historians record a lot of data regarding the state of the process. But data from operational systems like SCADA/Historians are not "fused" and triangulated with the rest of the IT data say from shift management systems and employee databases or identity management systems which tell who operated the asset.
Transition-4 : From Fragmentation to Standardisation
One of the reasons the explosion of consumer internet was interoperability and standards. One of the main stumbling blocks of industrial IOT is the variety of different ways in which assets "talk" to each other. But this is changing
For example, in the Utility industry there is OSGP ( Open Smart Grid Protocol ) whose intention is to harmonise and speak a common energy exchange language
Similarly in the Oil n Gas industry standards like WITSML (Well site Information Transfer Standard Mark-up Language) provides non proprietary interoperability standards to exchange digitised oil well information
Transition-5 : From Edge Intelligence to Remote Intelligence
Flutura has also observed the increasing dependence on remote intelligence. For example typically the landing gear is controlled by a pilot instruction ( edge intelligence ). Supposing an adverse event happens and the pilot is incapacitated, in order to land the aircraft safely ground control can take over the flight using remote intelligence .Pilot programs under way to implement this use case to augment safety of passengers.
Transition-6 : From Pipe to Platform
Typically when an asset was being monitored, only single event streams where being monitored using condition monitoring systems ( How many times did the process exceed its bounds ?). But engineering firms are realising that in order to deeply understand the context of the asset the historian data has to be triangulated using ambient condition data and operator/human context. Doing so requires transitioning to a multi dimensional "platform" mindset as opposed to a "pipe" mindset which is very "uni" dimensional
Closing Thoughts ...
Flutura has observed that these transitions do have friction for adoption . But this friction is being "lubricated" or removed by the emergence of disruptive companies, regulatory pressure and customer expectations. Even if one of these Industrial IOT transitionsreach a tipping point it can disrupt the engineering market place dynamics considerably and as Jay Asher said
“You can't stop the future
You can't rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret to press play.”
Flutura is excited as the Industrial world is increasingly moving towards pressing "play" :)

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