2017 will be about data ownership and security
Whether it’s the sensors or it’s the platforms people are using, the Industrial Internet market has become much more mature overall in 2016. Good examples of monetization have emerged, demonstrating that organizations have begun leveraging capabilities and competencies and turning these opportunities into something that could positively affect their bottom line. Juha Pankakoski, Chief Digital Officer at Konecranes, assesses the key developments of the past twelve months and looks ahead to the themes and possible breakthroughs of 2017.
Companies that have been in this area for quite some time are now starting to leverage value from the data that has been collected. It’s one of the things we assumed to happen already a couple of years ago, but are only now seeing to realize. Once you have proper quality data to mine for information, you notice that there are several additional layers of value that you can start generating by aggregating information from multiple sources.
Connectivity and intelligent machines are somewhat breaking the boundaries of traditional industries. On a number of fronts where automation has already been set up, for example, the speed at which it is possible to gain insight from machines is increasing at a significant pace. Some of the very successful cases have come from industries where assets are quite remote and not that easily accessible, such as the vessels or oil rigs. New solutions now allow remote support teams to better understand what is happening in the field and help local teams using different augmented reality and virtual reality (VR) devices. This is definitely something that is proving to be exciting.
The industry that is really providing excellent opportunities for others is the automotive industry, with connected vehicles and automated driving becoming more and more commonplace. Companies with billions of dollars in revenue are developing all these capabilities and putting them in place, making them more cost efficient at the same time. These solutions are then deployed in many other areas and industries where automation or “sensing” is required.
Lessons from hackathons
From our perspective, all the hacks we have organized have taught us something. In the case of the recent Maritime Hack, we encountered practical challenges associated in combining open and closed data. We found out that it is still much more challenging today than perhaps expected to get all the parties inside the port to share data with each other, despite sharing the same customer and the same objective. There are practical restrictions – legislative, contractual, but also artificial – and still quite a number of concerns in the open data sphere. This isn’t entirely unexpected, but it’s still somewhat disappointing because it’s by combining those different data streams and different actors which is required to arrive at additional value. There’s still some way to go before net openness can be achieved.
Remember that hackathons aren’t hacks as such. They deliver varying results based on the input, expectations and preparation that companies have put into those sessions. Some companies we know have had very limited success and varying results from the event. You take a risk when going into an event like this that doesn’t have a definite, specific outcome in mind. When you go in to meet new companies and new people with new capabilities, you can either be pleasantly surprised or find out that a company’s capabilities may not be exactly what you are looking for at that point in time.
As for possible breakthroughs in 2017, one of the things we will see is VR or enhanced reality-devices being used in field service operatives’ day-to-day industrial work.
Themes of 2017
2016 was the year of analytics. Data ownership and security will be very appropriate themes for 2017. Security is an underlying topic that can’t be avoided. We are already seeing connected devices that are being used for unintended purposes, such as DDoS attacks. We are also seeing several other areas where connected cars have been manipulated from a distance. It’s an unfortunate fact that every new machine or item that is connected or “smart” in one way or another is subject to hackers coming in, breaching security restrictions, and using them for unintended purposes. In an industrial environment, such situations can be hazardous.
Preparedness for this is not a straightforward or easy thing to do as it requires that you have security built into your architecture from the very beginning. Companies should either redesign their solutions or build additional layers of security into their solutions, so if something does happen, the machines can be safely ramped down to avoid an adverse effect.
In terms of business opportunities, the big potential is in data and the sharing of data. Going back to the hack itself, it is expected that we’ll see more and more collaboration between parties in terms of sharing data and information across customers and customer premises. The sharing of data and of knowledge – be it between the machines themselves or between the databases that contains the information – will then be used to generate new business cases. Interoperability and communication between machines and processes is something that will greatly profile 2017.
As for possible breakthroughs in 2017, one of the things we will see is VR or enhanced reality-devices being used in field service operatives’ day-to-day industrial work. These devices will allow the user to get support from the back office and from the applications that can deliver additional data, information or material related to the job in hand. In this area, we will see many interesting developments. There are many solutions in the pipeline, and I would be a bit disappointed if we didn’t see several viable applications that can truly be used in an industrial environment.
We may also see some interesting announcements from large software companies on how they plan to develop and combine their IoT offering with more traditional software packages or cloud services as bundles. Whether its software or machinery, I see companies building on what they already have in their portfolio to provide a platform to develop their capabilities to the next level.
Juha Pankakoski works as Chief Digital Officer at Konecranes
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