Pandemic Becoming a Trigger for Certain Enterprises to Accelerate Transformation

We only need look out the window to understand that the current situation with keeping people apart to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has slowed commerce and manufacturing to a crawl.

Wind River surveyed a set of executives in China and the US to see what they think the impact of the slowdown and then recovery will be. There are many similarities in outlook, although there are some differences. Wind River attributes most of the difference to the timing of the survey. China was beginning to come out from the shutdown, while the US was in the midst of it.

This is an IT-oriented report, but it is also quite relevant to us all given that operations and information areas are working ever more closely aligned.

[Note for my OT readers: DevOps is a set of practices that combines software development (Dev) and information-technology operations (Ops) which aims to shorten the systems development life cycle and provide continuous delivery with high software quality.]

[Note 2: A subset of DevOps relating specifically to data is called DataOps. See my writing on Hitachi Vantara and HighByte for more on this. This is relatively recent.]

Highlights

  • More than 1 in 3 executives in both the U.S. and China are seeing COVID-19’s impact as impetus to digitally transform their businesses
  • COVID-19 is influencing which technologies will receive increased attention, with enterprises desiring transformation placing 50%+ extra focus on investment in areas such as 5G, containers, and cloud-native technologies.
  • 75% of C-suite, IoT, and DevOps leaders are modifying corporate strategies due to COVID-19.

Wind River, a deliverer of software for the intelligent edge, has issued new research investigating how technology executives—specifically, C-suite leaders and senior executives in areas such as IoT, DevOps, security, and embedded development—from both the U.S. and China are realigning their focus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their insights are embodied in the Wind River commissioned report titled “COVID-19 and Corporate Strategies in the U.S. and China: A Seismic Event Demanding Change and Action from Top Executives.”

Seismic events can disrupt our focus and thinking and force reassessment of drivers of future business success. The current COVID-19 pandemic is one of those major events producing a worldwide impact, especially given its reverberations on the two largest global economies, the U.S. and China.

“Prior to the pandemic, the vast majority of corporations were looking toward advancing their digital transformation. However, we’ve entered a different landscape that is triggering leaders in DevOps and IoT development to make profound decisions about the speed and nature of their technology investments,” said Kevin Dallas, president and chief executive officer, Wind River. “As we’ve seen from our study, in this COVID-19–shocked world, those most optimistic about the future of their business and the direction of their technology and development investments are the enterprises viewing this as a time to accelerate and even change the nature of that transformation.”

Looking inside the minds of technology executives in major sectors such as telecommunications, healthcare, automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing/industrial provides a view into how leaders are redirecting their focus and accelerating or delaying investments. The report surveyed 400 senior-level technology executives from the U.S. and China at enterprises with revenues ranging from $100 million to $1 billion.

With COVID-19–related challenges creating new pressures, enterprises are rapidly falling into the categories of simply surviving, pivoting to adapt to new realities, or doing nothing. While the U.S. and China are in different phases of the pandemic, in several aspects the responses from each country split in similar ways. More than 1 in 3 executives—39% of U.S. and 43% of Chinese leaders—are focusing on surviving this crisis, while 35% in the U.S. and 33% in China are spurred to make a transformation due to COVID-19.

The enterprises focused on transforming have a much higher propensity to accelerate key technology investments compared to those who are merely surviving. Those with a desire to digitally transform are placing 50%+ extra focus on key investment areas such as 5G, containers, and cloud native. The research findings among these leaders indicate that they understand the core technology components that will be vital for digital transformation. For these enterprises, executives are increasing spend in the following areas:

  • 5G projects: by 63% in China, 37% in the U.S.
  • Cloud-based application development: by 62% in China, 35% in the U.S.
  • AI: by 61% in China, 37% in U.S
  • Container-based development: by 56% in China, 38% in U.S.
  • IoT: by 60% in China, 33% in U.S.
  • Applications at the edge: by 57% in China, 25% in U.S.

As enterprises have had to implement changes to their business processes due to the pandemic, 98% in China and 90% in the U.S. note that their ability to meet customer demands has been impacted. Given recent needs, the interest in growing DevOps practices has risen across enterprises, with executives now placing more importance on DevOps (46% in U.S., 36% in China).

Regardless of region, most enterprises realize that the road ahead will be tough. Fifty percent of enterprises in the U.S. and 77% in China are seeing heavier workloads across their teams. They also anticipate the need to implement major initiatives such as accelerating new business models (83% in U.S., 89% in China) and building in more agile development (82% in U.S., 86% in China).

To tackle these challenges, there is a clear recognition among leaders that they will require transformative focus and skills. Therefore, in order to successfully lead a digital transformation, C-suite leaders and executives in DevOps/DevSecOps and IoT anticipate increased importance in their roles (ranging from 60%+ in the U.S. to 73%+ in China) as their businesses exit COVID-19.

As the world grapples with the disruption caused by COVID-19 and enterprises begin to understand major gaps and the resources required to deliver on customer needs, they must identify the right strategies and experts to help them accelerate a digital transformation and realize long-term success beyond the pandemic.

For information about Wind River’s efforts to support the battle against COVID-19.

It’s Time For The Entrepreneurial Leader

I recently heard a presentation (no names to protect the guilty) where once again there was the adjective “unprecedented” followed by “we have never experienced more uncertainty”.

My guess is that these people were under 35 years old.

The privilege of being old, I guess, is perspective. Things are different, yet the same. In 1973 I was in the recreation vehicle business and we experienced the “Arab oil embargo”. Long lines waiting for what gasoline might be left at the gas station. Fights broke out in the queue. People were unnerved. Travel was an adventure. The economy tanked. Our plant shut down for six months.

Shortly thereafter was massive inflation. I was pulled off my usual work to revalue the inventory and figure out advantages of LIFO or FIFO valuation among other things—oh, we didn’t have anything on a computer. It was paper and my trusty Singer calculator. I was also trying to plan purchases of components with 24-36 week lead times which meant predicting sales and production months out. (Hint: I guessed wrong.)

That doesn’t even go back to my great-grandparents and the Spanish Flu of 1918 or my grandfather and father in the Great Depression and then World War II. In the Depression, people were not merely inconvenienced, they rightly wondered where their next meal would come from.

The common thread? The creativity and resilience of human beings. For example, Grandpa turned a plant that manufactured refrigerators into one manufacturing machine gun bolts to do his part for the war effort.

All over the world, people worked to restore and even to grow and thrive after catastrophes. At least now we have some political leaders and many business and technology leaders working to prevent worst case scenarios. The scientific efforts to understand the virus and develop medicines and vaccines are massive. Manufacturing turnaround, not as easy as politicians make it seem, from making one thing to making necessary supplies has been great. People on the ground making crucial treatment and preventive decisions hour-by-hour have saved myriad lives as well as adding knowledge to the effort.

The human spirit is a marvelous thing. Things are serious, but if we all help prevent the spread of the disease, and help each other out, and support productive efforts, then we’ll come out on the other side stronger than ever.

Those aren’t stories you’ll see on Fox or CNN or MSNBC or wherever. But important work is proceeding.

There is no time for all the unproductive politicking. Shake off the scarcity attitude. Take on a resolute attitude—not merely optimistic, but a “we can survive and go on to thrive” attitude. Truly this is a time for entrepreneurial leaders to take charge.

Rockwell Automation Numbers

I ran into a long-time acquaintance a couple of weeks ago (before the coronavirus impact) who told me he was all-in investing in Rockwell Automation. The stock had been slowly oscillating between the 170s and 210 for some time. He felt it was destined to keep growing beyond 210.

Note: before retirement, he owned a Rockwell distributorship.

That piqued my interest. When I saw the latest analyst briefing, I took a dive. The transformation of the business is almost startling.

Sales by region must be a bit disappointing as former CEO Keith Nosbusch made it a goal to reduce dependence upon North American markets. For the last year, NA sales are almost 60% of total, with EMEA at 19% and Asia only 14%. However, sales were edging close to $7 billion with a target to top $7 billion this FY. That is good growth.

Breaking out sales by type of industry, hybrid is 40%, process 35%, and discrete at 25%. I imagine if I were to ask 100 people in the industry, more than 90 would guess that Rockwell was still a predominantly discrete automation player.

Showing the general state of manufacturing, Rockwell is strongest in Food & Beverage (20% of sales) followed by Oil & Gas (10%) which is approximate equal in share to automotive. I don’t know if that means the large investment that Nosbusch made in process industry acquisitions is paying off, but it apparently is.

Like many colleagues, I was shocked at the huge valuation Rockwell Automation placed on PTC when it invested $1 billion. But when I saw everything ThingWorx (and the rest of the PTC IoT portfolio) could do–meaning the company could stop many development programs saving a ton of cash–Blake Moret’s (current CEO) move looked very smart.

I like to point out to my close Rockwell acquaintances that I had renamed my site “The Manufacturing Connection” before they announced the “Connected Enterprise” strategy, we both agree that “connections” are where the action is.

Since I’m not an investor in individual stocks, I’m not making any recommendations. But I’d have to say that my old acquaintance is looking pretty smart.

News Media—Reporting or Engaging in Idle Speculation

I really liked the old CNN Headline News–from about 20 or more years ago, that is. You could tune in for maybe 15 minutes and get a scan of the relevant news without fluff or spin.

A couple of years ago a new source sprang up online–Axios. It was similar to that old idea. They sent out two daily emails with a quick read of the news–not commentary, not fluff, not spin, but news.

Then last week came this news letter (from the Website). Nothing but idle speculation designed to get your emotions all in an uproar. OK, we already have Fox and MSNBC to do that if we choose. We don’t need it from a site masquerading as news and then pulling the old bait-and-switch.

I’ve seen very few examples of that in our industrial B2B press. There are some experienced analysts who can reliably put a context around some news. But our worst failing is when we limit ourselves to writing about advertisers. I don’t track that, but I imagine it happens even in our world.

We all have different positions growing from upbringing, experiences, sometimes even thinking. But be aware of what you read–whether it merely reinforces prejudices or whether it provides information or guidance for growth. Only in this way can we grow a dialog instead of a shouting match.

Digital Infrastructure and Solutions Company Expands and Focuses

Digital Infrastructure and Solutions Company Expands and Focuses

In brief: During its brief history as a collection of Hitachi Ltd. data properties, Hitachi Vantara continues to grow and remake itself. It has now added Hitachi Consulting and Intelligent Data Cataloging company Waterline Data. The new company combines IT Infrastructure, Data Management and Analytics.

The first news is the combination of Hitachi Vantara with Hitachi Consulting as one company to create a new digital infrastructure and solutions company.

The new Hitachi Vantara aims to become the world’s preferred digital innovation partner by unlocking the “good” in data that benefits customers, raises the quality of people’s lives and builds a sustainable society. Hitachi Vantara will specifically bring a competitive edge to the digital domains that matter most – the data center, data operations, and enterprise digital transformation.

The new Hitachi Vantara combines the best consulting-led digital solutions and vertical industry expertise of Hitachi Consulting with Hitachi Vantara’s IT domain expertise. Going forward, the integrated company will help customers develop practical, scalable digital strategies and solutions that transform operational processes, improve customer experiences and create new business models to drive innovation and growth.

For example, the new company will offer a holistic manufacturing industry practice as one of several vertical industry practices. The manufacturing practice will integrate consulting methodologies for addressing quality, customization, sustainability and new business models with data-driven solutions such as Lumada Manufacturing Insights from Hitachi Vantara, which integrates silos of manufacturing data and applies AI and machine learning to evaluate and enhance overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

“A barrage of data and technology is disrupting enterprises and industries the world over,” said Toshiaki Tokunaga, chief executive officer and chairman of the board, Hitachi Vantara. “Through the integration of Hitachi Consulting, the new Hitachi Vantara will be uniquely equipped with the capabilities our customers need to guide them on their digital journeys. We’re going to be the company that helps customers navigate from what’s now to what’s next.”

The Hitachi Vantara portfolio is built upon a foundation of world-class edge-to-core-to-cloud infrastructure offerings, including the recently introduced Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) 5000 series, the world’s fastest data storage array. The portfolio further features AI and analytics solutions, cloud services for application modernization, systems integration and change management services for SaaS-based ERP implementations and migrations, and Lumada-based digital industrial solutions. Hitachi Vantara’s offerings are all backed by world-class business consulting, deep experience in improving organization effectiveness, co-development capabilities and global delivery services.

With its expanded capabilities, the new Hitachi Vantara will play a key role in advancing Hitachi’s 2021 Mid-term Management Plan, which aims to make the company a global leader through “Social Innovation Business.” The Social Innovation Business strategy centers on combining Hitachi’s industrial and IT expertise and products to create new value and resolve social issues.

Hitachi Vantara will help advance the plan by expanding revenues from digital business, by digitally transforming Hitachi’s industrial businesses, by fueling international growth, and by delivering social, environmental and economic value which helps customers contribute to the attainment of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

As announced in September 2019, Toshiaki Tokunaga, a 30-year Hitachi veteran who has successfully transformed several Hitachi businesses, will serve in the dual role of chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Hitachi Vantara.

The company’s two business units, Digital Infrastructure and Digital Solutions, will be led by Presidents Brian Householder and Brad Surak, respectively. Hitachi Vantara today also announced details of other appointments to its executive leadership team.

Hitachi Vantara Will Integrate Advanced Data Cataloging Technology Into Lumada Data Services Portfolio

In further news, Hitachi Vantara announced acquisition of the business of Waterline Data, which is headquartered in Mountain View, CA. It provides intelligent data cataloging solutions for DataOps that help customers more easily gain actionable insights from large datasets and comply with data regulations such as GDPR.

Waterline Data delivers catalog technology enabled by machine learning (ML) that automates metadata discovery to solve modern data challenges for analytics and governance across edge-to-core-to-cloud environments. Waterline Data’s technology has been adopted by customers in the financial services, healthcare and pharmaceuticals industries to support analytics and data science projects, pinpoint compliance-sensitive data and improve data governance. It can be applied on-premises or in the cloud to large volumes of data in Hadoop, SQL, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud environments.

Waterline Data’s patented “fingerprinting” technology is the cornerstone of its solutions, removing one of the biggest obstacles to data lake success. Fingerprinting uses AI- and rule-based systems to automate the discovery, classification and analysis of distributed and diverse data assets to accurately and efficiently tag large volumes of data based on common characteristics.

Integrating Waterline Data technology with Hitachi Vantara’s Lumada Data Services portfolio will provide a common metadata framework to help customers break down data silos distributed across the cloud, the data center, and the machines and devices at the edges of their networks. By applying DataOps methodologies to the unified datasets, customers can more rapidly gain insights and drive innovation.

“Our research illustrates that almost half of enterprise data practitioners are spending more than 50% of their time simply trying to find and prepare data for analysis. Data catalog products have emerged in recent years as strategic imperatives for enterprises seeking to address this challenge while also improving data governance,” said Matt Aslett, research vice president, 451 Research. “This acquisition is logical and strategic: Waterline Data’s capabilities are a complementary fit for Hitachi Vantara and its Lumada Data Services portfolio. Adding Waterline Data furthers the company’s ability to address growing demand for products and services that deliver more agile and automated approaches to data management via DataOps: helping enterprise consumers of data ultimately leverage information in a fluid, yet governed way.”

“Hitachi Vantara provides customers with the digital building blocks, DataOps approaches and industry solutions they need to transform their organizations through data-driven insights,” said Brad Surak, president, Digital Solutions, Hitachi Vantara. “Waterline Data technologies complement Hitachi Vantara’s DataOps expertise and will become key offerings in the Lumada Data Services portfolio, bringing our customers greater visibility, tighter quality control, improved compliance and better management of their data.”

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The acquisition of Waterline Data is subject to customary closing conditions and it is expected to close in the fourth quarter of Hitachi’s fiscal year 2019 (ending March 31, 2020).

Upon completion of the acquisition, Hitachi Vantara will make Waterline Data technologies available as standalone solutions as well as integrated components of the Lumada Data Services portfolio.

Digital Infrastructure and Solutions Company Expands and Focuses

20 Metatrends To Blow Your Minds

20 METATRENDS FOR THE ROARING 20S

Everybody it seems likes metatrends, megatrends, any-kind-of-trends, especially at the beginning of a calendar year. I think that many of these are good idea stretchers. Whether or not they serve as accurate predictors does not matter. People are working on many projects and ideas that will yield something in the future.

Peter Diamandis publishes an Abundance newsletter, preaches Abundance thinking, did the X-prize, and many more futuristic stretch-the-mind ideas.

I lifted the following introduction to his latest newsletter “20 Metatrends For the Roaring 20s.” I recommend visiting the website and thinking through these ideas. He is an abundant optimist about technology. I’m afraid that I’ve been around too many MBAs and marketers. So his idea that someday the Alexa’s and Siri’s of the world will be our loyal servants freeing us from advertising influence pushes aside the factor that these technologies are being developed by companies who survive on advertising. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

In the decade ahead, waves of exponential technological advancements are stacking atop one another, eclipsing decades of breakthroughs in scale and impact.

Emerging from these waves are 20 “Metatrends,” likely to revolutionize entire industries (old and new), redefine tomorrow’s generation of businesses and contemporary challenges, and transform our livelihoods from the bottom-up.
Among these metatrends are augmented human longevity, the surging smart economy, AI-human collaboration, urbanized cellular agriculture, and high-bandwidth brain-computer interfaces, just to name a few.

It is here that master entrepreneurs and their teams must see beyond the immediate implications of a given technology, capturing second-order, Google-sized business opportunities on the horizon.

Welcome to a new decade of runaway technological booms, historic watershed moments, and extraordinary abundance.

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