Buzz words such as the industrial Internet of Things, Industry 4.0 and Digital Twin have started to weave their way into executive key notes and and sales peoples’ pitches from players such as GE, Siemens, IBM, ABB, Amazon, and SEE Forge. It is easy for product offerings to get lost in the cloud of buzzwords and become disconnected from the basic operating principles of the customers in which these products were originally developed.
Back to basics
Most Industrial IoT customers produce a product such as oil, chemicals, motors, etc. This requires two primary assets; Physical Assets – machines, plants, mobile rigs, etc; and Human Assets – operators, maintenance, engineers, and managers. These two assets dance together in a process to produce a desired outcome e.g. crude, cars, widget xyz.
Digital Twin defined
The term Digital twin is rapidly making its way into the everyday technology dictionary. Defined as a “digital copy of physical and human assets that can be used to analyze and simulate real world conditions, respond to changes, improve operations and add value.” Gartner even has listed Digital twin as a top 10 digital trend of 2017.
The big mistake
Most technology players in the space are developing and marketing to the physical side of the asset equation. With the typical pitch being something along the lines of “With connected devices we can connect your asset to our central cloud (Predix, MindSphere, Ability, etc.). And, with all your data we can predict downtime, asset failure, benefit xyz.” This over emphasis on the physical asset side neglects the other half, which are the humans. Physical asset data alone is not a complete picture of what operations are today. Physical asset data plus Human data is now a must.
Humans (unfortunately) remain an operational reality and are responsible for operating, maintaining and ultimately optimizing the physical asset. Having data on what people are doing, how, when, where and if they even did it to begin with helps to identify risks and opportunities, and improves and completes the Digital Twin value proposition which simply is “Show us a lot of data and we’ll show you how to improve”.
Our market prediction
The Industry 4.0 / Industrial IoT market battle is hot with all the majors players and startups arming themselves to start to collide. My prediction is that the fastest players to combine both the physical AND the human side of the asset data equation are going to provide the most value and ultimately win. Leaving all the others wishing they executed faster rather than nodding their head in agreement and still leaning one comfortable way. The way they have always leaned. The way that feels safe, but, as history tells, is the most dangerous.
SEE Forge creators of FAT FINGER is the leading software platform to rapidly digitize form-based workflows that are traditionally done on paper, Excel and clunky outdated systems. In seconds anyone can create enterprise apps using an easy drag-and-drop no code builder. FAT FINGER then uses machine learning to coach app users in real-time to make safer and improved decisions.