Inductive Automation Fills New Executive Leadership Team

Company Adds Chief Technology Evangelist, Chief Technology Architect, and Chief Information Security Officer

Continuing to pass the torch to a new generation of leaders who actually have been instrumental in the company’s success so far, Inductive Automation announced another round of C-level appointments. 

An earlier round of leadership changes came in July when CEO and Founder Steve Hechtman and COO Wendi-Lynn Hechtman announced they were delegating their C-level roles to focus on their roles as the Executive Chairmen of the Board of Directors, and promoted Colby Clegg to CEO, Kat Robinett to COO, and Carl Gould to CTO.

In this new round of appointments, Travis Cox has been promoted to the new role of Chief Technology Evangelist, Kevin McClusky to the new role of Chief Technology Architect, and Jason Waits to the new role of Chief Information Security Officer.

Inductive Automation’s key product, Ignition by Inductive Automation, is an industrial application platform with tools for building solutions in human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

As Chief Technology Evangelist, Travis Cox will undertake a variety of responsibilities with the overarching goal of raising awareness of industry trends, modern technologies, open standards, and the many possibilities of the Ignition platform. Cox will communicate through a variety of formats, including presenting at conferences and events, meetings with industry leaders, and providing media interviews.

As Chief Technology Architect, Kevin McClusky will work to help drive widespread adoption of Ignition, work closely with some of the world’s most innovative companies, provide long-term architectural guidance, and provide vital feedback to the CEO and CTO about customer needs, customer and industry trends, new technology adoption, and any identified threats or risks to the company.

As CTE and CTA, Travis Cox and Kevin McClusky will work closely with Inductive Automation’s Chief Strategy Officer, Don Pearson, to expand the market and partnership growth of the ever-expanding Ignition ecosystem of solutions.

As Chief Information Security Officer, Jason Waits will maintain a central and high-level view into the needs of Inductive Automation’s entire ecosystem, from the company to its products and everything in between. This new role is a natural progression for Waits, who was part of the first-place team in 2017 US Cyber Challenge, and has functioned as IA’s resident security expert for several years.

Hexagon Announces Digital Reality Challenge to Start-ups

Hexagon has been busily acquiring companies over the past year or two. It has also launched an interesting incubator-type program called Sixth Sense encouraging start up entrepreneurs with enticements of monetary support.

  • Second Sixth Sense challenge invites applications from disruptive start-ups in digital reality, visualisation, artificial intelligence, and automation.
  • Launched in January 2022, the open innovation platform supports scaling start-ups in advanced manufacturing with Hexagon resources and market insights.
  • Up to three winners will be selected after an intensive 10-week programme and offered the opportunity to scale their business alongside Hexagon.

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division announced the launch of its second Sixth Sense start-up challenge: digital reality and visualisation for a sustainable future.

Hexagon launched the Sixth Sense open innovation platform in January 2022 to nurture start-ups in the advanced manufacturing space with Hexagon resources. Its first winners were selected in June and are rapidly scaling with Hexagon’s portfolio and impressive customer base. Its Manufacturing Intelligence division provides engineering, production and quality technology and services to the world’s biggest and most innovative technology leaders around the world, from customers such as Audi and Boeing, to partners like Microsoft.

Sixth Sense has now opened applications for its second cohort, inviting entries from start-ups with innovative technologies in advanced visualisation, digital realities, artificial intelligence, and automation. A cohort will be selected based on a pitching competition in September, after which the platform will fast-track the companies through an intensive 10-week programme to inform and refine their offering with Hexagon’s market insights. Up to three start-ups will be selected from that shortlist at the final in December and offered the opportunity to scale their business alongside Hexagon. The winners will also have the unique opportunity to be part of Hexagon’s open platform for smart manufacturing collaboration; the “Connect, Innovate, Empower” Nexus ecosystem.

This cohort’s theme builds on Hexagon’s commitment to accelerate innovation and drive the global shift to a new sustainable way of operating. Sixth Sense will see a focus on the following areas of emerging technology: digital twin innovations, metaverse factory design, predictive and prescriptive intelligence, and autonomous and sustainable manufacturing operations.

The selection criteria for Sixth Sense include:

  • $3m or less in revenue
  • 1-5 years in existence
  • Post seed, Series A, Series A+
  • Proven traction and product-market fit
  • Propensity to scale

Preferred qualities:

  • Validation of investment from third party
  • IP & licenses

Responsible Computing Inaugural Meeting Defines Working Groups

The announcement of a new program of the Object Management Group  called Responsible Computing was reported here last May. This news fleshes out the skeleton of the announcement through work of the inaugural meeting on June 29, 2022 that established six working groups defining their focus. Responsible Computing is a new consortium comprising technology innovators working together to address sustainable development goals.

Stephen Mellor, Executive Vice-President of OMG and CTO of Responsible Computing, said, “We have all heard about sustainability, but how often have you seen a request for proposal that set energy usage requirements or placed limits on ‘dark data? Responsible Computing will address these issues and more. The inaugural meeting set the stage for sustained work in multiple areas.”

Details of Six Working Groups

Data Center Working Group concentrates first on the building to reduce environmental impact with more efficient strategy and design, migrate to renewable energy sources, monitor consumption, and carbon footprint and optimize the reuse of waste from cooling and production. This working group will produce webinars, white papers, and best practice papers to help the IT community be net-zero by 2030 in compliance with UN SDGs.

Infrastructure Working Group realizes greater efficiencies with infrastructure (computers, networks, data centers) designed to deliver high-performing sustainable operations, consolidate workloads that peak at different times to increase efficient use of resources, and obtain high utilization levels. This working group will produce webinars, success stories, and best practice papers to reuse technology, reduce electronic waste, and create a circular economy.

Code Working Group is to align teams on software architecture, technology, programming language, and platform with anticipating and monitoring the total costs of running, supporting, and maintaining applications. It will produce white papers to help developers balance the trade-offs between accuracy, speed, and expense, including energy consumption, addressing the hidden energy impact of code, reducing data duplication, and improving cybersecurity. The group will also implement sustainability maturity assessment tools and KPIs to accelerate decision-making and pinpoint areas requiring more scrutiny during software development. There will also be ongoing training and workshops to reinforce shared sustainability goals to heighten team awareness of these issues.

Data Usage Working Group certifies that data is high quality. The group also works to ensure that organizations can trust processes and people, thereby reducing errors and misinterpretation of data by advocating intelligent workflows that leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning. The group will develop robust policies, guidelines, and practices for data governance (e.g., maintaining lineage and explainability), ongoing data usage risk assessment and risk mitigation, incident response, and data-breach remediation. It will also show organizations how to manage data lifecycle with accountable data-retention and destruction practices.

Systems Working Group will ensure that systems employ an integrated set of technologies to serve people by building ethical, privacy-preserving, secure, and resilient systems. Organizations must design systems with the environment, individuals, society, and future. Responsible systems are designed with a three-layered approach to include a cultural ethos across the entire supporting organization, forensic technology that can monitor and detect issues to enable trust, and governance requirements to which the entire organization adheres. This working group will help organizations maintain the integrity of internal systems, achieve compliance with internal and external standards, ongoing monitoring to ensure companies develop and use responsible systems and reinforce corporate social responsibility to close the digital divide.

Impact Working Group will work to offset the impact on the planet in the categories of ESG and level the playing field through sustainability, circularity, diversity, inclusion, climate, openness, and ethics. Six prime and measurable maturity characteristics represent the ability to achieve responsible impact: goal setting, scalability, replicability, socially responsible business model and strategy, and quantifiable and traceable to a UN SDG (United Nations Sustainability Development Goal).

Responsible Computing is a systemic approach aimed at addressing current and future challenges in computing, including sustainability, ethics, and professionalism, stemming from the belief that we need to start thinking about technology in terms of its impact on people and the planet.

Industry IoT Consortium Publishes Artificial Intelligence Framework, Updates Networking Framework

I missed the notes of an interview when I transferred to a new notebook a couple of months ago. It concerns a new Framework published by the Industry IoT Consortium (you may remember them as the Industrial Internet Consortium, still known as IIC). These Frameworks are blueprints targeted at decision makers providing a variety of perspectives on a topic along with practical advice according to Wael William Diab, Chair IIC Industrial AI Task Group and Secretary IIC Steering Committee, and Bassam Zarkout, Executive Vice President IGnPower Inc. and the Chief Editor of the IIAIF.

They told me the work approaches the topic from different perspectives—business, usage, functional, and future.

Artificial Intelligence Framework

The Industry IoT Consortium (IIC) announced the Industrial IoT Artificial Intelligence Framework (IIAIF). The framework highlights the value proposition AI can enable in next-generation industrial IoT (IIoT) systems and addresses the emerging requirements and implementation challenges.

“The rapid growth and innovation in the field of AI have unlocked applications that a few years ago were infeasible. These advances are fueling digital transformation across industry sectors such as manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, finance, and retail,” said Wael William Diab, Chair IIC Industrial AI Task Group and Secretary IIC Steering Committee. “By taking a holistic approach to the emerging requirements and challenges, the framework aims to accelerate responsible adoption of AI-enabled IIoT systems and ultimately bring the benefits of digital transformation to more use cases and sectors.”

The IIAIF brings together both the IT and OT perspectives and their convergence by considering the various aspects of next-generation AI-enabled IIoT systems. For instance, the framework addresses the value proposition, implementation challenges, and architectural decisions and provides exemplary usage scenarios.

“AI-enabled IIoT systems enable better insights, faster decision making, and more effective operations, and empower organizations to deliver higher value to the market,” said Bassam Zarkout, Executive Vice President IGnPower Inc. and the Chief Editor of the IIAIF. “The framework is unique in terms of positioning, scope, and real-world use cases. It addresses the practical business, trustworthiness, ethical, and technical considerations of AI with other digital transformation enabling technologies.”

“The IIC is focused on creating transformative business value by accelerating the adoption of industrial IoT systems,” said Stephen Mellor, IIC CTO and Exec. VP of OMG. “The IIAIF is a prime example of how IIC is facilitating the adoption of emerging technology by helping organizations understand and address the unique requirements of AI in IIoT environments.”

Update to Industrial Internet Networking Framework

The Industry IoT Consortium (IIC) published an update to its Industrial Internet Networking Framework (IINF) that includes new guidance on deploying satellite communications technologies in place of terrestrial networks, which can be technically and economically unfeasible. Today, developers can deploy satellites to connect IIoT devices spread over vast areas or for connectivity in remote, underpopulated land areas, or over the seas and oceans.

“The main advantage of satellites over terrestrial networks is their wide coverage on a regional and continental scale,” said David Lou P.hD., Co-Chair, IIC Networking Task Group and Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer at Huawei. “Even though closing the link budget for IIoT devices is challenging, satellite technology can support IIoT devices as a direct radio access network. They can also serve as a backhaul technology for wireless or wired networks at any altitude.”

NI Corporate Impact Report

The first NI Week in Austin, TX I attended was 1998. I hit every year until maybe 2015. The clear vision of leadership around building a company with solid ethics and focus on having a positive impact on the world impressed me from the very beginning.

The company has grown from that startup scrappiness I first witnessed to the corporation it is today, yet the vision persists through the third generation of leaders.

Recently I interviewed Tabitha Upshaw, senior director of Brand, Reputation and Impact to learn more about the results reported in the 2021 Corporate Impact report just announced about a month ago. She emphasized the Three Pillars of the program: Changing the Faces of Engineering, Building an Equitable and Thriving Society, and Engineering a Healthy Planet. These were created to reflect where the company can have the greatest influence and impact as a test and measurement engineering leader.

Some of the results noted in the report include:

  • The launch of a rigorous grant-making process with $2.7 million in grants to nine nonprofit partners who are advancing diversity in STEM education, including the Girls in Engineering and Technology program in Malaysia and the Women at Tech program in Hungary.
  • Improved equity in base pay across NI, with ratios of 99% for women to men (global), 101% for people of color to white (U.S.), 100% for Black to white (U.S.) and 101% for Latinx to white (U.S.).
  • 35.5% of electricity sourced from renewables, plus 113,542 square feet of new buildings and remodels designed to LEED/WELL standards.

A particular point of pride according to Upshaw came from tracking pay equity goals and reporting that the company was beating these goals handily.

The company has placed dollars, executive time, and other emphases on STEM education at all levels of schooling as long as I’ve known it.

The report also puts forth a new goal: By 2030, NI will become a climate-neutral company with an ongoing commitment to protecting biodiversity. The company’s ambition is to operate in a way that produces no net greenhouse gas emissions (Scope 1 and 2).

“We are living through a period of rapid evolution. We see it with our customers who are accelerating the digital transformation of our world, and we see it in our society and across our planet,” said Eric Starkloff, CEO of NI. “Our 2030 Corporate Impact Strategy reflects our desire to be a driver of positive change.”

One of NI’s key drivers of positive transformation in 2021 was its announcement of $2.7 million in grants to STEM education initiatives that advance diversity in STEM education globally. The company formed nine new partnerships with nonprofits to bring hands-on programs and mentoring to girls and women, people of color and economically disadvantaged populations.

“We’ve had to put in extra effort to keep Corporate Impact top of mind in the face of macro challenges such as the pandemic, supply chain disruption, and our transformation as a company,” concluded Upshaw. “And I’m so proud of what we’ve worked together across the company to achieve this year.”

Industry IoT Consortium Updates Industrial IoT Internet Connectivity Framework

The power of industry consortia lies in the number of companies and the market reach of the companies who gather to develop standards for technology and use. This guidance from the Industry IoT Consortium (IIC, formerly Industrial Internet Consortium) helps organizations drive better business outcomes using data from resource-constrained edge devices. That is digital transformation.

From the news:

The Industry IoT Consortium (IIC) announced updates to its Industrial IoT Internet Connectivity Framework (IICF), a foundation document that guides the building of an Industrial IoT (IIoT) connectivity architecture. The latest version of the IICF expands the connectivity guidance to include lightweight, resource-constrained machine-to-machine (M2M) devices often found at the edge of networks. The IICF defines an IIoT communications stack and a connectivity assessment template. It applies the assessment template to evaluate IIoT connectivity standards and provides guidance on selecting the right connectivity standard based on system requirements. The IICF connectivity reference architecture enables data sharing and interoperability across a diverse range of IIoT systems.

“Five years ago, the IICF laid the foundation for ubiquitous data sharing across the rich but often confusing landscape of IIoT applications. Today’s important updates and new assessments cater to the communication requirements of resource-constrained devices,” said Dr. Rajive Joshi, lead author, co-chair of the IIC Connectivity Task Group, and Principal Solutions Architect at Real-Time Innovations (RTI). “IIoT architects can use this document confidently to review up-to-date requirements, technologies, standards, and solutions that enable rapid, open information exchange across their systems.”

“Sharing data is essential for organizations to create new value streams and unleash the potential of a global IIoT marketplace,” said Stephen Mellor, CTO, IIC. “The latest version of the IICF helps organizations use IoT connected M2M devices to drive better business outcomes.”

The IICF is a fact-based, consensus-developed document that provides a stable long-term foundation for IIoT interoperability. It offers helpful, practical, tangible guidance for requirements assessment, technology evaluation, and selection.

IICF authors include Rajive Joshi from RTI, Paul Didier from Cisco, Christer Holmberg and Jaime Jimenez from Ericsson, and Timothy Carey from Nokia. The Industry IoT Consortium is a program of the Object Management Group (OMG).