I have been contemplating what is going on over the past couple of years in the business of HMI / SCADA software.
This thinking was brought to an interim conclusion by the (sort of) announcement of another last-minute Wonderware conference.
I first heard about the Wonderware conference, distinct from the SimSci conference (another Schneider software company through the Invensys acquisiton) also announced for this year, about a month ago. To date, I have not received any official communication from Schneider as a writer/blogger/analyst. They have sent several emails out to me as a result of being on a few magazine subscription lists.
Schneider announced in July a new company formed with Schneider software (unspecified companies within the division) and Aveva with Schneider being the majority owner. Two months down the road there have been no further announcements. The only media relations people listed on the Website are in France. I never heard of any of them.
Meanwhile there are rumblings on LinkedIn that make it appear that Schneider has begun cutting some really talented executive staff.
Only a few years ago there was sort of a Big Three with Wonderware, Intellution, and Rockwell Software. Intellution went first to Emerson which took the IP it needed and sold it to GE. That company originally thought it could blend Intellution and Cimplicity, but wound up rewriting its software now called Proficy. Evidently most of its sales are internal to GE, because all competitors claim they never see it in active quotation processes.
Wonderware went to Ivensys then to Schneider then to ??? Under Invensys it lost some of the California software company panache, but was still a major player. What is going on now is anyone’s guess.
Rockwell continues to pick up little companies (and some big ones for the overall software business) and keeps plugging away.
Meanwhile, Schneider, never a software company, picked up Citect through its Australian subsidiary. Then Invensys–now Schneider–picked up Indusoft. Consolidation continues. When the Aveva thing shakes out, we’ll see what other consolidation occurs.
Each of the Big Three picked up companies in the MES or the MOM space several years ago. They took over the “old boys” club that was MESA and attempted to make the organization into more of a supplier/user collaboration organization promoting the benefits of that layer of software.
There has not been as much movement in that space as I thought there would be a couple of years ago. I thought this new business “Manufacturing Connection” might capitalize on that layer of software. Nothing really happened there.
So what I throw out to you–both of my readers–is just this:
1. Has HMI/SCADA reached commotity status where the business is not as attractive unless run as a cash cow?
2 Will the MES/MOM area remain so complex (there are good reasons for that) that suppliers in the space must maintain many engineers and IT professionals to help customers rationalize their businesses in order to gain the many benefits of the software?
3. Does this situation with the larger MES/MOM companies leave an gap for inroads to the market for smaller companies to begin grabbing market share?
Let me know what you think.