Industrial Internet Now

Five steps to digital innovation

First you need to map and prioritize the needs of your organization. Technology comes in second. Ideas arise from inspiration and interaction, but need to be ranked and properly tested before implementation. Marko Yli-Pietilä, the Business Development Director and Managing Consultant at Midagon, walks us through the five stages of successful digital innovation.

“I think that the approach to creating new business through industrial internet and digitalization has been too technology-oriented for a while now. With agile methods the testing process of new ideas can be quite speedy, but as things get faster, we tend to overlook the actual starting point and the foundation on which we should be building,” Yli-Pietilä points out.

According to his view, digital innovation should be a structured process, in which the entire organization should be involved. In the list below he describes the journey of innovation from an idea to reality.

1. Map and prioritize the specific needs of your organization

“Companies shouldn’t rush into making decisions about the use of certain technologies. In the very beginning, one needs to look at the strategic goals of the company, and think about what needs to be done and what needs to be changed in order to achieve those goals. In this primary stage, the technologies are irrelevant. The focus needs to be kept solely on developing the organization and its functions.”

2. Think about how technology can help you

“Once the priorities and needs of the organization have been defined, then it is time to turn the attention towards how things are done. It is very likely, that digitalization provides the tools for streamlining processes. Nevertheless, what needs to be kept in mind is that digitalization is no panacea. Digitalizing existing procedures just for the sake of it rarely leads to the maximum results. In fact, it may even end up adding unnecessary steps in the overall process. Again, ask yourself what it is that you want to achieve. Then let the technology help you get there.”

3. Unleash the creativity lurking inside your workforce

”I’ve been involved in projects where companies try to foster innovation by bringing someone from outside of the organization to implement creative ideas. Personally, I don’t think that’s the optimal way. There are already numerous examples and case stories in the world of digitalization and industrial internet from where to draw inspiration. Your own colleagues have the best understanding of your company, its business and environment. Why not utilize that? Digital innovation can mean different things to different players. So, instead of hiring a stranger to work their magic, see what your people can do. Have them think about the solutions that provide the greatest benefit to your organization.”

4. After background research it is time for internal testing

“As soon as you have a clear view of your company’s strategy, processes and human resources, it is time to put the ideas to test. With agile testing methods you can test, say, twenty out of hundred different ideas in a few week’s period. The main goal in this stage is to quickly get a perception of which ideas have actual potential business-wise and are worth taking further.”

“Interaction between all kinds of people from different parts of the organization enables going through a broader set of perspectives”

5. Ready, set, pilot!

“After the first round of testing, the number of ideas left in the process has usually decreased to a maximum of five. This is when the ideas need to be evaluated against the set business objectives and bring external stakeholders to contribute to the process. Customers, for example, need to really get acquainted with this new thing, a product or a service, to be able to give their extremely valuable feedback. Because the crucial question that needs to be answered is whether this innovation in the making is something that they are actually willing to pay for. So it is not enough just to create something that technically works. That something needs to help the company either increase profit or, on the other hand, decrease costs. “

Everybody’s business

Anybody who has ever been involved in the process of innovation surely knows that the journey from having just a hint of an idea that could possibly grow into something bigger, to introducing the first prototypes of a given digital innovation is certainly long and eventful. Everything can go according to the plan – until it doesn’t. Even going through all the necessary stages doesn’t guarantee that the result is optimal, or even functioning. Is there something that could be done in the very beginning in order to improve the chances of succeeding?

“Returning to the very beginning of the innovation process, I would say that the more heterogenic bunch of people throwing in their initial ideas and brainstorming together, the better. Interaction between all kinds of people from different parts of the organization enables going through a broader set of perspectives,” Yli-Pietilä contemplates.

And ultimately, who in the organization should be in charge of the process of digital innovation?

“Often it is either the CDO or the CIO of the company. However, in my opinion the process itself is so comprehensive, that it shouldn’t simply be lumped together with traditional information handling. It requires more than that. Therefore I think that it is easier for CDOs to take responsibility and leadership in the overall process. For that reason, companies who want to be innovative in the digital world need to start by appointing a CDO, if they don’t have one yet,” Yli-Pietilä concludes.

Marko Yli-Pietilä works as the Business Development Director and Managing Consultant at Midagon.

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Interview w/ Marko Yli-Pietilä

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A comprehensive checklist to ensure a successful IoT implementation

Is the solution you are about to obtain a must-have or nice-to-have? What is the right tradeoff between features, ease of use and security for your installation? There is a slew of aspects to be thought of when acquiring new technology for industrial uses. Glenn Longley, Regional Manager of energy markets at FreeWave Technologies, offers an excellent checklist for selecting IoT technology, from a security point of view.

“There are many benefits to the concept of a completely connected IoT system, but this also implies more crossover between IT and OT systems. Companies need to prioritize security in their quest to create end points for all their field assets”, Longley writes for IndustryWeek.

Acquaint yourself with the checklist at

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Via Industryweek

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New professions develop with new business opportunities

The role of the worker in an industrial environment is changing at a rapid pace. There is a large array of new requirements and skillsets that the modern industrial workforce has to adopt to, in order be able to orient themselves in the digital environment of the future, says Martti Mäntylä, Professor of Information Technology at Aalto University.

Many tasks are becoming more oriented towards information work. The changing role of the industrial worker can be compared to that of a prosumer – a consumer that both creates and consumes media content. For the client companies, the information the worker provides can offer valuable insight in how to develop their business. At the same time the worker requires more information to be able to conduct the increasingly digitized tasks.

The education offered by schools must move towards a T-shaped profile, meaning that on top of the specialization one might have, there’s also the need to have a general knowledge of the whole process one might be involved in. This same development can be seen in all branches of education concerning the Industrial Internet.

“We do not have a one-size-fits-all solution for how the education regarding the industry of tomorrow will look like, but as the Industrial Internet is largely an intersectional phenomenon, it is of importance for the students of industrial processes to have a good overview of how the whole process will be affected”, Mäntylä says.

A rise of new professions

According to Mäntylä, digitalization might breed new professions, for example in the field of data quality and collection. One of the new tasks might involve adding value by analyzing the collected data.

“Whatever the task is, there is an added element of creating data and creating additional value through information work”, Mäntylä says.

A large part of the value creation comes in the form of documentation. This practice brings the data to the use of other related systems, and improves the quality of the manufacturing process.

Several companies have appointed a person to be in charge of the digital transformation of their operations. The position, being relatively new, includes a wide variety of different responsibilities and tasks. According to Mäntylä, appointing these digital or data officers is a way that companies aim to find a direction and lead the ongoing change.

“The changing role of the industrial worker can be compared to that of a prosumer – a consumer that both creates and consumes media content.”

“They also aim to empower and network agents on different levels of organizations, and systematically create the needed stimuli for developing the Industrial Internet”.

There is still a notable amount of work to be done, especially in researching the possibilities of the Industrial Internet, and closing the gap between hypothetical possibilities and the concrete targets that companies wish to reach. At the moment one of the more common ways of proceeding for companies is collecting and comparing different cases to figure out in which direction the field is developing.

The added value comes from information

For B2B companies, one of the significant changes has been in the way they’ve had to view their businesses, and shift the focus from products to services. For example, a client might not actually want to purchase a complete welding system, but instead the “product” they wish to have is a guarantee of good welding seams. The added value for the company now offering this service is generated from gathering more data, which is then used to further assist the client in, for example, certifying their welding seams. It may also come from improving quality control, traceability or anything else based on the needs of the client.

“There needs to be a change of perspective, from a B2B approach to thinking about the client of the client. This change is visible in the processes, which utilize a more co-development based approach”.

Another new way to improve processes comes in the form of hackathons. They are an excellent way for an organization to discover what sort of new possibilities digitalization enables for its business. Some of the ideas that come up in hackathons might not fit the current agenda of the companies organizing them, but it is a great way to see the variety of possibilities offered.

“On top of the solutions developed during these events, hackathons offer insight on the type of valuable complementary knowledge there is to be found from outside of the organization. Still, for many companies, there is a threshold in taking extra-organizational personnel on board in developing the companies’ digital toolkits”, Mäntylä says.

One thing that the hackathons aim at, is utilizing information in new ways. This is also what will happen to the roles of many industrial workers. For them, the new solutions regarding IT, maintenance and services will surely have a noticeable impact on how they perform their tasks in the future. That is why schools must adapt a broader view of what it means to work in an industrial environment in the future.

Martti Mäntylä works as Professor of Information Technology at Aalto University

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Interview w/ Martti Mäntylä

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(Updated: post chat) Announcing the first Industrial Internet Now #IINChat

Thanks to all who participated in the first #IINChat with a topic ‘’#OpenData for innovation /or standardization in #manufacturing’’ held on the 27th May, 2016. The informative discussion lasted approximately one hour and provided some notable interesting ideas and clarifications about using Open Data for the manufacturing industry by experts from around the world.

The selected questions were:

Q1. How does the usage of Open Data compare with the use of Big Data in manufacturing?

Q2. What initiatives on Open Data should manufacturing people be paying attention to?

Q3. Are there interesting technologies currently available that make Open Data more manageable for manufacturing?
Q4. Are there opportunities to use Open Data to generate revenue for manufacturing companies?

Q5. What industries have the best opportunities for using Open Data? Who will be first to fully adopt?

Notable tweets/contributions to the chat:


Original Post

Industrial Internet Now will moderate a regularly scheduled Twitter chat (#IINChat) focused on creating public discussion around Industrial Internet topics for heavy industry and material handling. We are looking for experts and interested specialists to participate in the chat and share knowledge on the possibilities and challenges facing industries, such as but not limited to steel, shipping & ports, pulp & paper, manufacturing, waste-to-energy and automotive. We are also looking for questions and comments from the people who live with the realities of the new emerging Industrial Internet world. As a public chat held on Twitter, anyone is invited to share their thoughts. Welcome!

Date: 27 May, 2016 13:00 (EET) – 13:30

Topic: ‘Open Data for innovation /or standardization in #manufacturing.

Example Questions:

  • What initiatives on Open Data should manufacturing people be paying attention to?
  • Are there specific Open Data sets that are currently available that will help manufacturers?
  • How does the usage of Open Data compare with the use of Big Data in manufacturing?
  • What are the best use cases for Open Data in a manufacturing environment?
  • What are the restrictions / concerns with using Open Data among heavy machines?
  • What industries have the best opportunities for using Open Data? Who will be first to fully adopt?
  • Companies utilize services between industries (e.g. automotive and shipping). How can Open Data help lower costs in this area?
  • How long will it be before Open Data and its standardization take hold in mainstream manufacturing?
  • Are there opportunities to use Open Data to generate revenue for manufacturing companies?
  • If Open Data standards are adopted, are there practices or services that will be eliminated in manufacturing companies?
  • Are there interesting technologies currently available that make Open Data more manageable for manufacturers?

The IIN Chat format:

Industrial Internet Now will periodically host a Twitter chat on various Industrial Internet subjects using the hashtag #IINChat. At the end of the chat session, respondents can see a summary of conversations as an updated version of this post and continue the conversation in the comments section. Please also feel free to suggest topics for the next #IINChat.


Industrial Internet Now

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Fabricating takes a quantum leap through digitization

Anders Lindh offers a glimpse on what the Industrial Internet can offer for fabricators from data gathering and processing to different cloud capabilities. In this article from The Fabricator, Lindh examines the benefits offered by the Industrial Internet on a wide scale. On all meters his conclusion is the same – productivity rises and the occurrence of errors due to human behavior lessens. According to Lindh, through the functions offered “a fabricator could make a quantum leap in productivity, quality, and machine efficiency”.

Read more on how the Industrial Internet affects fabricators at

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Via The Fabricator

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