Crossing the IT/OT divide – co-configuration and real scale (part 4)
This article continues from here. It is an excerpt from a full report, called ‘Crossing the IT/OT divide – from co-creation to co-configuration, and how to bring industrial IoT to scale’. The report, part of Enterprise IoT Insights’ ongoing Digital Factory Solutions series, is available to download (for free) from here. Other entries in the Digital Factory Solutions series can be found here.
“That has to be the focus now – not frameworks, not best practices, but adoption. End of story. We need to go from proving technology to proving value,” says the Industrial Internet Consortium. This is the industry line, as it stands. The tech industry has to keep its eyes on the road, to stay on a future path. There is no point, really, gazing into the mists on the horizon; the value must be revealed, in the negotiation between IT and OT.
“Most industries have shifted their thinking to measuring and demonstrating value, some quicker than others. Co-creation is not required to define value but it may be one of the components. Organizations need to evaluate the business problems they are trying to solve and determine how best to unlock the necessary value for the organization,” says Corlis at KPMG.
He reverts to the idea of the technology platform as the start-point to scope out business problems, and to match solutions accordingly. “Corporations should… seek potential foundational platforms to meet their business objectives. Once those platforms are in place enabling the next IoT use case should be close to a plug and play type solution with some customization but not to the scale required by implementing point solutions,” he says.
Vodafone agrees: the technology works, and the challenge to make the business case requires less work than before – to the point, even, that co-creation is tired as a concept, and a blocker for scale.
The IoT market is no longer so novel or messy that technology experts and domain experts – technology sellers and buyers, IT departments and OT functions – must work through protracted collaborations to create solutions from scratch, it suggests. There are, it turns out, only three use cases, or rather ‘use classes’, said Vodafone, and one of those doesn’t even exist yet.
Asset tracking and remote monitoring are the only ones that matter now; everything else riffs on these. “Forget all the 100s of use cases you see; forget all you know: there are only actually two use classes for IoT,” says Phil Skipper, head of IoT business development at the UK carrier, speaking at IoT Solutions World Congress in Barcelona in October.
The emergence of URLLC-grade 5G in release 16 and 17 of the 3GPP’s new rado (NR) standard, pegged for mid-2020 and late-2021, will introduce a third: a means for ultra-reliable industrial control for automated processes, machines, and vehicles.
But for now, before 5G gets real for industry, the market can spin-up a matrix of services off these other two use classes, which can be shown to deliver value already, and offer enterprises — including, most importantly, small and mid-sized firms, which have not, cannot, and will not invest in digital expertise required to foster their own solutions – magic tonics for digital change, available on subscription.
The IoT market is past co-creation, says Skipper, to arrive at a stage of ‘co-configuration’, where only the final 20 per cent needs to be configured in collaboration with enterprises, in order to make bespoke solutions for business-specific challenges. The rest – the lion’s share, the initial 80 per cent – of IoT solution-making is available in take-away form, as-a-service, with little required beyond shuffling the dials on connectivity, compute, and analytics.
That is the message, then, in late 2019, going into 2020: the market making progress towards scaling IoT for industrial businesses of every stripe. It is the basis of Vodafone’s new Invent initiative, which seeks to enable enterprises to make their own IoT solutions, based on a take-away menu of IoT capabilities, with a localised discussion around the final garnish: 80 per cent off-the-shelf technical gubbins, plus 20 per cent back-and-forth to make it a tailored fit.
“We are moving away from this idea of ‘co-creation’ towards this world where you have co-configuration, so you are adding the 20 per cent you need to make it a connected rat trap, or a connected chiller, or a connected HVAC system, rather than starting from scratch and having to build everything up.”
Hitachi Vantara, coming from the other side of the IT/OT divide, is drawing the same conclusion. It has packaged up its solutions as vertical-industry and horizontal-technology starter packs. It has two in the bag: one suite is called ‘manufacturing insights’, and cuts the solution mix various ways for digital factory setups; another is called ‘video insights’, which pre-packs LiDAR data models alongside sundry machine vision components.
The inclusion of three-dimensional LiDAR analytics in the latter suite gives industrial customers volumetric readings, as well, says Bjorn Andersson, the company’s senior director of IoT solution marketing – useful for measuring everything from incoming material flow on production lines, to carry-on luggage in airportq queues, to occupancy in public restrooms (without using camera).
Andersson comments: “The idea is to accelerate co-creation with customers, but also to package solutions for them. It used tobe that IoT solutions were always bespoke; just because they hadn’t been done before, in many cases. That’s changing; we want to get to that 80/20 rule, where we have standard components for 80 per cent of the functionality at least, and then we add a little on top to customize for the customer. Because there’s always something unique.”
Martin at ABI says the same, and rounds out the discussion. “The question is, who owns the 20 per cent? Where is the burden? Is it an IT thing, as with platform integration, or is it an OT thing, around training of analytics models? And increasingly, we see that 20 per cent favours OT, because OT has the on-the-job expertise to make stuff relevant, aside from integration.
Once things are integrated, it’s just a maintenance-and-management issue – and those functions are being automated.”
This is an excerpt from a full report, called ‘Crossing the IT/OT divide – from co-creation to co-configuration, and how to bring industrial IoT to scale’. The full report, part of Enterprise IoT Insights’ ongoing Digital Factory Solutions series, is available to download for free from here. Other entries in the Digital Factory Solutions series can be found here.