Hitachi announced their plans to acquire US based software development company GlobalLogic for an estimated USD 9.6 billion, including debt repayment. The transaction is expected to close by end of July, after which GlobalLogic will function under Hitachi’s Global Digital Holdings.
GlobalLogic was founded in 2000, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Swiss investment firm Partners Group have 45% of ownership; with the remainder owned by the company’s management.
Hitachi’s Business Portfolio Expansion
The acquisition of GlobalLogic is a part of Hitachi’s move to focus and extend the range of Hitachi’s digital services business. As Hitachi aims to expand from electronics hardware to concentrate on digital services, they are looking to benefit from GlobalLogic’s range of expertise – from chips to cloud services. Silicon Valley-based GlobalLogic has a presence in 14 countries with more than 20,000 employees and 400 active clients in industries including telecommunications, healthcare, technology, finance and automotive. This will also expand Hitachi’s network outside Japan by providing them access to a global customer base and will boost their software and solutions platforms, including Hitachi IoT portfolio and data analytics.
The GlobalLogic deal follows another big acquisition of ABB’s power grid business by Hitachi in July 2020 to focus on clean energy and distributed energy frontiers. This makes Hitachi one of the largest global grid equipment and service providers in all regions.
“Hitachi’s move to acquire GlobalLogic is very interesting and is in line with the growing trend of global Operation Technology (OT) vendors riding the wave of Industry 4.0 and ‘Product as a Service’ models – essentially, to move up the margin ladder with more digital services added on to their already established equipment business. Siemens, Schneider Electric, Panasonic, ABB, Hitachi and Johnson Controls are some of the prominent vendors who have taken pole positions in their respective industry domains, in this race to digitally transform their businesses and business models. Last year, Panasonic made a very similar move, taking a 20% equity stake in Blue Yonder, a leading supply chain software provider.
With rapid advancements in computing and communications (5G), it is now possible to converge the IT (Information Technology supporting enterprise information flows), the OT (Operational Technology – machine level control of the physical equipment), and the ET (Engineering Technology in the Product Design and Development space such as CAD, CAM, PDM etc.) domains. Three worlds that were separate till now. The convergence of these three worlds enables high impact use cases in automation, product, process, and business model innovation in almost all sectors, such as autonomous vehicles, energy efficient buildings, asset tracking and monitoring, and predictive and prescriptive maintenance. For the OT vendors therefore, it becomes critical to acquire IT and ET capabilities to become successful in the new cyber physical world. Most OT vendors are choosing to acquire these capabilities through strategic partnerships (such as Siemens with Atos and SAP; Panasonic with Blue Yonder) or acquisitions (such as Hitachi and GlobalLogic) rather than develop such capabilities organically in completely new domains.“
The partnership between SAP and Siemens aims to develop innovative business models to break silos between manufacturing, product development and service delivery teams to establish seamless customer-centric processes. It will provide users with real-time business information, customer insights and performance data over the entire product development cycle.
Ecosystm Principal Advisor, Kaushik Ghatak says, “The convergence of the Information Technology (IT) and the Operational Technology (OT) worlds is a must for companies to operate in the cyber physical world of Industry 4.0. Historically, these two worlds have operated in silos. This is a great partnership announcement aimed towards meeting the convergence goals by integrating the capabilities of Siemens (an OT leader), and SAP (an IT leader). Together they would be able to offer an exhaustive set of very valuable offerings in the Digital Supply Chain and Digital Manufacturing domain for customers worldwide.”
Ghatak says, “This is not the first such partnership for Siemens. A strategic alliance between Siemens and Atos has been in place since 2011. In 2018 the alliance was strengthened with plans to accelerate their joint business until 2020, with a focus on building innovative solutions by combining their capabilities. However, the difference this time is that SAP has very a deep and wide set of software offerings in the supply chain and manufacturing domains, which when stitched together with Siemens’ PLM solutions can provide true end-to-end digitalisation capabilities across the ‘Design, Source, Make, Deliver and Plan’ continuum of the value chain.”
Ghatak, however, cautions that while this is a great partnership announcement between two giants in their respective fields, they will need to collaborate actively on three key aspects for this partnership to deliver value for the customers.
Product Development. Building-integrated solutions with heterogenous data models is not easy. It will require very open collaboration between their product development teams to identify the use cases and build solutions that can enable seamless information flow and actions across the different software modules owned by each.
Go-to-market. Going to market jointly will need strong collaboration too. In terms of the agreement on customer account ownership, pricing, sharing of pre-sales resources and so on.
Implementation. And, last but not the least, it will require collaboration to ramp up the implementation capabilities of the jointly developed solutions.
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Initiatives such as the UK Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and Google Cloud agreement will also help in the recovery phase. This allows qualified public sector agencies to avail of a discounted price for their Google Cloud deployments. Earlier in the year CCS entered into a price arrangement with Microsoft as well. If Cloud has to be the vehicle for economic recovery, such arrangements will benefit cash-strapped public sector organisations.
The recovery will also require the entire technology ecosystem to engage not only with large enterprises but also small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Alibaba Cloud announced an investment of US$ 283 million to revamp its global partner program. They plan to introduce new partner-customer communication processes to enhance response time and bring more opportunities to independent software vendors (ISVs) managed service providers (MSPs) and system integrators (SIs) as partners.
Europe Emerging as a Cloud Hub
As a fallout of the current political scenario, Europe is pushing for more cloud independence and to become an innovation hub as a vendor-neutral network for cloud computing providers and their customers.
GAIA-X Foundation is a federated data infrastructure project initiated to build a unified system of cloud and data services to be protected by EU Laws – including GDPR, the free flow of non-personal data regulation and the Cybersecurity Act. France and Germany kicked off the GAIA-X cloud project last year and the system is open for participation to national and European initiatives for exchange of data across industries and services such as AI, IoT and data analytics. GAIA-X took another step towards becoming a real option for European organisations with the establishment as a legal entity in June. Various organisations – including Dassault, Orange, Siemens, SAP, Atos, Scaleway and Deutsche Telekom are a part of this non-profit platform, working together on Cloud applications, high-performance computing as well as edge systems. The project is expecting to release a working model by early 2021 and will be further enhanced in phases.
Global Cloud leaders are also focusing on expanding their presence in Europe. In February, Microsoft announced a new data centre in Spain leveraging Telefónica infrastructure. In a similar move, Google Cloud announced its plans to expand in the region in partnership with Telefónica. Telefonica and Google are expected to jointly work on Spain’s digitalisation through edge infrastructure and 5G for consumers and telecom infrastructure.
Cloud Providers Bolstering their Cybersecurity Capabilities
2020 has witnessed a host of cybersecurity threats and data breaches. While Cloud providers have always evolved their cybersecurity capabilities, it has become important for them to become vocal about these measures to build trust in the industry.
To complement the Microsoft Azure IoT security, Microsoft acquired IoT security specialist CyberX, last month. The acquisition will enable greater security for the IoT devices connected to the Microsoft network and will help their customers to gain visibility through a map of devices thus allowing them to gather information on security risks associated with thousands of sensors and connected devices. This will enhance smart grid, smart manufacturing and digital assets and profiles and reduce vulnerabilities across production and supply chain.
In another move which will benefit the ISV and SI ecosystem, NetFoundry’s zero trust networking API is now available on RapidAPI. RapidAPI’s marketplace enables developers to easily find, connect to, and manage the APIs they need to build a range of applications. Now the ISV and developer community can access NetFoundry’s software-only, zero trust models on RapidAPI.
More Partnerships between Software/Industry Solutions Providers and Cloud Providers
The COVID-19 crisis has had a far-reaching impact on several industries. The technologies that are expected to see the most uptake are IoT and Future of Work technologies.
Ecosystm Principal Advisor, Kaushik Ghatak says, “COVID-19 has brought to the fore the need for managing risks better. And the key to managing risks is to have better visibility and drive data-driven decisions; the sweet spot for IoT technologies.”
Last week, Microsoft and Hitachi announced a strategic alliance to accelerate the digital transformation of the Manufacturing and Logistics industries across Southeast Asia, Japan and North America. The first solutions are expected to be made available in Thailand as early as this month. Hitachi brings to the table their industry solutions, such as Lumada, and their IoT-ready industrial controllers HX Series. These solutions will be fully integrated with the Microsoft cloud platform, leveraging Azure, Dynamics 365 and Microsoft 365.
Another sector that has seen significant disruption is Real Estate. Ecosystm Principal Advisor, Andrew Milroy in his blog Proptech: Driving Digital Transformation in the Wake of COVID-19 sees a real opportunity for the sector to transform. “Many activities within the property ecosystem have remained unchanged for decades. There are several opportunities for digital engagement and automation in this sector, ranging from the use of robots in construction to the ‘uberisation’ of the residential property customer journey.”
June saw Honeywell and SAP partner to create a joint cloud-based solution based on Honeywell Forge and SAP cloud. The cloud solution is aimed at real estate operators and customers providing aggregated financial and operational insights in real-time. The solution leverages the Honeywell Forge autonomous buildings solution and the SAP Cloud for Real Estate solution, enabling facility managers and building owners to reposition their real estate portfolios through parameters such as cost savings and energy efficiency and help improve the tenant experience.
As organisations struggle to maintain operations during the ongoing crisis, there has been an exponential increase in employees working from home and relying on the Future of Work technologies. Ecosystm principal Advisor, Audrey William says, “During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have become reliant on voice, video and collaboration tools and even when things go back to normal in the coming months, the blended way of work will be the norm. There has been a surge of video and collaboration technologies. The need to have good communication and collaboration tools whether at home or in the office has become a basic expectation especially when working from home. It has become non-negotiable.”
AWS and Slack announced a multi-year partnership to collaborate on solutions to enable the Workplace of the Future. This will give Slack users the ability to manage their AWS resources within Slack, as well as replace Slack’s voice and video call features with AWS’s Amazon Chime. And AWS will be using Slack for their internal communication and collaboration.
Delivering excellent customer experience in the midst of the crisis has proved to be difficult for organisations. Customer care centres have been especially impacted by high volumes of customer interactions – through voice and non-voice channels. This will see a major rise in adoption of cloud contact centre solutions. Contact centre providers are ramping up their capabilities in anticipation. Genesys selected AWS as their preferred cloud partner to deliver new features to customers and build a global and secure infrastructure.
The industry can expect more news from Cloud providers in the next few months as they ramp up their capabilities and channel their go-to-market messaging.
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Last month, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced that Singtel and JVCo (formed by Starhub and M1) has won the 5G Call for Proposal. They will be required to provide coverage for at least half of Singapore by end-2022, scaling up to nationwide coverage by end 2025. While Singtel and JVCo will be allocated radio frequency spectrum to deploy nationwide 5G networks, other mobile operators, including MVNOs, can access these network services through a wholesale arrangement. The networks will also be supplemented by localised mmWave deployments that will provide high capacity 5G hotspots.
In October 2019, IMDA and the National Research Foundation had set aside $40 million to support 5G trials in strategic sectors such as maritime, aviation, smart estates, consumer applications, Industry 4.0 and government applications. Ecosystm Principal Advisor, Jannat Maqbool says, “Reach, performance and robustness of connectivity and devices have long held back the ability to scale with the IoT as well as successful deployment of some solutions altogether. The integration of 5G with IoT has the potential to change that immensely. However, and possibly even more importantly, 5G will see the emergence of a true ‘Internet’, defined as ‘interconnected networks using standardised communication protocols’, made up of ‘things’ enabling never-before contemplated innovation – supporting economic development and community well-being.”
“While 5G offers enormous potential to produce economic and social benefits, to reach that potential we need to evaluate from a strategic perspective what it could mean for industries, employers and communities – then we need to invest in the infrastructure, innovation and associated development required to leverage the technology.”
Singapore’s Industry 4.0 Transformation
The Government is also focused on getting the industry ready for the transformation that 5G will bring. Last week, Singapore announced its first Industry 4.0 trial, where IMDA collaborates with IBM, M1 and Samsung to design, develop, test and benchmark 5G-enabled Industry 4.0 solutions that can be applied across various industries. The trials will begin at IBM’s facility in Singapore and involve open source infrastructure solutions from Red Hat to test Industry 4.0 use cases.
The project will test 5G-enabled use cases for Manufacturing, focusing on areas such as automated visual inspection using image recognition and video analytics, equipment monitoring and predictive maintenance, and the use of AR in increasing productivity and quality. The focus is also on leveraging 5G to reduce the cost of processing, by shifting the load from the edge device to centralised systems.
Ecosystm Principal Advisor, Kaushik Ghatak says, “For some time now, the Singapore Manufacturing industry has been in the quest for higher productivity in order to regain its foothold as a destination of choice for global manufacturing outsourcing. The 5G Industry 4.0 trial is a great initiative to fast-track identification and adoption of the right use cases in Manufacturing, in the areas of automation, visibility, analytics, as well as for opening new revenue streams through servitisation of smart products.”
5G will see increased collaboration in the Tech industry
With the advent of 5G, the market will see more collaboration between government agencies, telecom providers and cloud platform providers and network equipment providers. Governments globally have invested in 5G and so have the network and communications equipment providers. However, telecom providers are unsure of how to monetise 5G and cater to the shift in their customer profile from consumers to enterprises. IBM and Samsung had already announced the launch of a joint platform in late 2019. Collaborations such as these will be key to widespread 5G deployment and uptake.
Talking about the benefits of collaborative efforts such as this, Maqbool says, “Robustness and security built into 5G deployment from the outset is essential to enable the applications and innovation that many are promising the technology will deliver, including the ability to self-scale, automate fault management and support edge processing.”
It is interesting that the solutions developed will be featured at IBM’s Industry 4.0 Studio 5G Solutions Showcase, and that IBM and Samsung will evaluate successful solutions developed during the project for possible use in their operations in a broad range of markets and sectors. “Availability of proven use cases at IBM’s Solutions Showcase centre would benefit local manufactures greatly; in terms of easy access to right skills and proven technology architectures,” says Ghatak. “This initiative is a huge step towards realising the promise of the cyber physical world. The collaboration between the leaders in communications, equipment and software will ensure that the use case development is truly cutting edge.”
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The basic components that drive an IIoT system are:
Secure intelligent assets such as sensors and smart controllers – that can sense, communicate, store and transmit information
Communication and data storage infrastructure – often cloud-enabled
Data analytics and smart business apps that generate information from the data
How IIoT Can Revolutionise an Industry
IIoT is transforming the manufacturing industry and other supply chain intensive industries by maximising efficiency, reducing downtime and increasing the overall production. While IIoT adoption is still in a nascent stage, there are some industries that have taken the first mover advantage and have started demonstrating readiness use cases.
The Smart Factory
The adoption of IIoT has reshaped traditional factories to create smart factories. The systems work with interconnected machines and real-time data exchange that merge the departmental communications along with unified operations and information systems.
How is IIoT making factories ‘smart’?
IIoT has revamped how the traditional units worked. The slow and manual processes are now automated processes with M2M communication. This can be easily demonstrated through an example of how Smart Factories deal with preventive maintenance.
A smart factory has machines, sensors, databases, and humans all working in sync with each other. Sensors within machines can automatically notice a fault and the software logic sends an automatic alert to the right human to analyse the cause behind the fault. With Artificial Intelligence incorporated, machines determine the cause of the faults and go beyond predictive to prescriptive approach pre-empting problems before they exist. This in return reduces the maintenance cost and increases uptime of the factory by introducing parameters to fix machines with accuracy. In-return this leads to increased shelf-life of components and less-time involved in problem detection and rectification.
Energy & Utilities
The Oil & Gas industry is embracing IIoT with a multitude of benefits. Now the energy and utilities have an ability to easily sync data and simultaneously operate across multiple locations. This is made possible with the adoption of cloud, and installation of sensors that capture real-time data on the operating conditions of assets, monitor physical conditions such as temperature, pressure and humidity, and even environmental conditions. The practical scenario here is that Oil & Gas companies are remotely controlling their drills and monitoring the earth’s crust by remote control sensors and maintaining the flow of resources.
With so many moving parts in a logistics system, from factories, collection points, and the transport network, it was difficult to maintain and manage a single view of the entire process. Through an ecosystem of sensors on the machines and vehicles covering the entire supply chain, it is now possible to access real-time data. It allows advanced functionalities such as virtually positioning hundreds of vehicles and optimising their route. In the process saving energy and reducing the time for delivery. The consequence is reduced costs for fuel, vehicle maintenance, and staff, plus increased customer experience through shorter and more accurate delivery times.
Other Industries – Promising the change
The adoption of IIoT will go beyond the early adopters and revolutionise several other industries. The Transportation industry is ripe for transformation given that infrastructure is being strained and margins reduced. The challenges of demand and aging infrastructure can be best handled by IIoT.
Another industry that will benefit immensely from IIoT adoption is Healthcare. At the moment, asset management IoT systems have been adopted by several organisations, as in-patient remote monitoring systems that allow clinicians to monitor and analyse patient data remotely.
“The real value of IoT will be realised when clinicians have a clear workflow that allows them to monitor patients outside the hospitals,” says Sash Mukherjee, Principal Analyst, Ecosystm. “In the past, healthcare organisations have been influenced by the Manufacturing industry – by Lean and Six Sigma. They will benefit from implementing Industry 4.0 technologies, that will transform not just the provider organisations, but healthcare in general.”
Turning IIoT into a Profit Engine
Given all of this information about IIoT you may be thinking about the ROI, associated costs, benefits and the industry-wide exposure of the Industrial IoT. It is imperative that companies large & small are embracing Industry 4.0 change. IIoT is benefitting businesses through differentiated offerings, a creation of newer revenue streams and increased monetisation of existing offerings.
The Ecosystm IoT Study, 2019 looks at the drivers of IoT adoption across industries.
The data shows that the key drivers of IoT adoption can all affect the profit margin of an organisation.
Innovation. In today’s competitive world, innovation in product designing and service delivery is directly related to a positive impact on profit margins. Organisations are looking beyond cost savings through their investments in IoT and are using IIoT to bring new, innovative products and services to the market. They are looking at creating innovative businesses that can leverage technology and offer cost savings.
Workforce Optimisation. It is impossible to bring change without workforce optimisation. Organisations are working on the valuable insights offered by IIoT systems which further provide ways to optimise the workforce and accelerate productivity. Implementation of automated production units and the reduction of manual labour is bringing both productivity gains and increased profits. It is also boosting employee morale – happier employees impact the profitability of organisations, reduces turnover, improves customer interactions, and promotes more job ownership.
Customer Experience. Customer expectations have gone up and so have methods to improve customer experience. Organisations are taking IIoT seriously, as it’s unleashing capabilities to improve processes throughout the product life cycle while also improving product quality through better QCs. Feedback to product improvement time has reduced – customer features and product improvement requests can now be handled more efficiently, based on customer data.
Businesses that fully capitalise on IIoT systems are successfully building a competitive edge through their innovative products, optimised workforce, and differentiated products and service offerings to enhance customer experience.
What Lies Ahead?
As IIoT percolates into other industries, we will potentially see a new industrial revolution. This has obviously been attracting investment and technology companies quickly to offer related technology offerings that tech buyers would do well to consider along with IoT.
Data management will become an obvious challenge with IIoT-driven data proliferation. Already the industry has been talking about going beyond cloud to “fog” computing. The real value of IIoT will be realised when the solutions become able to operate on the Edge. This will see an increased uptake of SaaS offerings that will be required for quick and accurate data-driven decisions.
AI will eventually go further than basic machine learning and incorporate deep learning for better predictive and prescriptive analysis. IoT devices with embedded AI will truly revolutionise industries. This is another technology area that tech buyers should keep an eye on, irrespective of the industry.
Security and Risk Management
An explosion of IIoT devices and data will bring new risks. Cybersecurity experts and teams will be required to constantly monitor vulnerabilities, follow security best practices and eventually predict breaches.
Industry 4.0 is very much a buzzword in certain industries, with several advanced organisations already following the business and technology practices. Naturally, there are still many companies that do not see the need for new technology or would rather invest in other areas.
For organisations that are looking to modernise, innovate and remain competitive, Industry 4.0 is a good benchmark of how technology can be leveraged. IIoT is a key enabler of Industry 4.0 and has the potential to deliver benefits to majority industries through increased intelligence and curated data – the question is how soon we can witness it on a scale.
Which are the other industries that you think will benefit from IIoT? Leave your comments below
As large hardware manufacturers like Cisco, HPE, Dell and more are building specific, robust and secure infrastructure for the edge, it is believed that there will be a lot of money flowing in the IIoT Edge computing world.
The Development and implementation of Edge-Machine Learning solutions is a complex process and requires a combination of rich industry experience, knowledge of automation (PLCs, SCADAS, HMIs), electrical & mechanical engineering along with unique Edge Computing distributed system. This is used by Data Scientists to develop Machine Learning algorithms which can be utilised by IIoT applications in the manufacturing industry.
For organisations looking to implement these solutions, it is always a good idea to know more on adoption and ask for the continuation of a pilot project for more than a year.
Below are the top 5 things that one should follow to accelerate implementation of IIoT edge computing solutions in the Manufacturing industry –
1) Get help to find the needle in the haystack
With the fragmented ecosystem of IIoT vendors and companies talking about the Industrial Internet or Industry 4.0, the challenge that always appears in front of the customers is to ask for free pilots from the manufacturers.
It is not just finding the needle (IIoT best or cheaper solution) in the haystack (ecosystem), it is how this needle matches with your business and technology strategies.
I know, I am selling myself, but my recommendation to you is to get advice from independent IIoT experts.
2) Avoid OT Vendor Lock-In: We need machine data availability
Powerful Edge Analytics-Machine Learning applications require data exchange with the Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) of the manufacturers. By looking at the specifications we may think that it will be an easy task to extract the data from PLCs going through different ways or manufacturer’s help-guides. However, the problem is vendor lock-ins, most of the top PLC manufacturer’sdo not allow “easy” data access and extraction methods neither to the customers nor to any third parties.
It is not a question of protocols, it is a question of vendor lock-in and data availability.
Customers must seek and claim for open-source solutions to avoid vendor lock-in during the long run. The open source can better lead to the path of innovation in their manufacturing plants.
3) Edge Computing and Machine Learning: The last frontier to break between IT/OT
Edge Analytics is a key component in the integration of IT & OT and requires a knowledge of both to make it work. The lack of skills & knowledge in the IT and OT fields impact the business & operations and creates a dilemma on which department should lead the Edge Analytics projects.
Today, many cloud vendors offer IoT platforms and tools that combine the Cloud and the Edge application development, machine learning and analytics at the edge, governance, and end to end security. On the OT side, companies like Siemens have launched MindSphere, an open cloud-based IoT operating system based on the SAP HANA cloud platform.
Manufacturers should continue to deploy and develop Edge Computing – Machine Learning applications to monitor the health of their machines or to improve their asset maintenance or to monitor the quality control of their plant floor processes and shouldn’t stop because of the fear of the integration of their platform with the Public or Hybrid Cloud environment.
Edge Computing solutions help manufacturers to improve their competitiveness without the Clouds but make sure your Edge IIoT solution is ready for easy integration with the Clouds.
5) Connected Machines is the only way for new Business Models
Security is another major obstacle for the adoption of IIoT in the manufacturing industry. Manufacturers have been reluctant to open their manufacturing facilities to the Internet because of the risks of cyber-attacks.
In a fast-moving era where platforms and services require products and machines connected, every manufacturing factory should be able to tap into machine data remotely and make it available for Machine vendors. This requires every Edge Computing / Machine Learning system to be built with the capability to share data remotely via open and secure protocols/standards like MTConnect and OPC-UA.
Having machines connected is the first step to make machines smarter, to build smarter factories and to flourish new business models as Remote Equipment Monitoring.
The benefits of using Edge Computing / Machine Learning solutions are very attractive to the manufacturers because it offers minimal latency, conserve network bandwidth, improve operations reliability, offers quick decision-making ability, gather data, and process the collected data to gain insights. The ROI in such IIoT solutions is very attractive.
To get these benefits and to grace IIoT journey, manufacturers have to step-up and accept to receive tangible and innovative business value.