The point of manufacturing is to design and make a product then deliver the right product to the customer. Sometimes we just churn out a large quantity and hope they will sell. Sometimes we configure to order or “mass customize” products.
For example, I once had a job where I reported to the Vice President of product development for a manufacturing company. Two of us reported to him. The other guy headed the engineering teams for all of our standard products. I had a small team and we did special projects. One task was to help sales people go through complex specs and configure our product to meet the specs. My technology was a 4-column accounting ledger, pencil, and Singer adding machine.
I bet I made mistakes.
Frederic Laziou, CEO of Tacton, a Swedish company with a product in the CPQ space, just talked with me about what’s happening with his company and the technology.
CPQ stands for Configure Price Quote recognized by Gartner with Tacton firmly situated in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant in CPQ.
A SaaS company born in the cloud from a research institute in Sweden, Tacton used AI plus search research to become a product search engine. Among CPQ companies, Tacton is unique as a niche player in manufacturing with key domain knowledge in manufacturing.
CPQ would have made my job from the late 70s easier, more accurate, and better documented. Good stuff.
Laziou states Tacton has presence in Europe, Japan, and North America. There is a common thread—they cannot compete on price. Mass customization or individualizations helps companies compete.
The company was seeking to deepen its North American presence, niche player in these areas:
- Production lines
- Power Generation (Dresser/Siemens)
- Medical Technology (Siemens and GE)
- Heavy commercial vehicles
- Fluid and air flow
30-40% of that business is in the US. In order to sustain leadership, need to be closer to the customer and partners, therefore have US headquarters. It established an office in the Chicago area. Two additional reasons for the Chicago location include direct flights to Stockholm and a wealth of necessary talent in manufacturing, software, and sales and marketing.
Putting Tacton in context of Industry 4.0, it puts customer in the center of the customer’s digitization.
Laziou says that as more people are bringing consumer technology into the business context, Tacton developed AR to enhance customer engagement. Not to mention that AR addresses big pain point—errors in quotes.
To fuel the expansion and drive increased sales, the company is making a $12 million investment over the next three years to establish joint headquarters in Chicago
In conjunction with its expansion and investment in the U.S. market, Tacton is also announcing new capabilities in its cloud-based CPQ platform. The new features include augmented reality (AR)-powered visualization and expanded integration with Salesforce that makes it even easier for manufacturers to design, configure and sell complex products.
Founded in 1998, Tacton CPQ software and design automation solutions help the world’s largest manufacturers, such as Bosch, Siemens and Caterpillar to manage the complexities traditionally associated with producing customized and configured products that meet strict customer requirements.
For example, the Industrial Power division at Siemens uses Tacton’s sales configuration software to slash the time it takes to prepare price quotes and simplify product configuration of custom solutions. It used to take Siemens eight weeks to produce a custom quote for its gas turbine units, With Tacton’s CPQ, the sales team now produces the same quote in a matter of minutes, without requiring any help from product specialists.
“The beauty of the Tacton Configurator is that it will guide the sales representative and get the product configuration for an accurate price quote each time. It now takes us only five minutes to generate a complete budget offer including pricing. This saves us tremendous amounts of time and money,” said Siemens Senior Engineer CRM process & IT Development Jan Nilsson.
Tacton CPQ now includes visual product configuration, including real time, interactive 3D drag-and-drop functionality. Sales engineers can interact directly with a sophisticated configuration tool, powered by AR to visualize the configuration within the actual environment.
The new capabilities extend Tacton’s integration with Salesforce to boost sales with features including needs-based configuration. Salesforce Sales Cloud customers can now connect to the full power of Tacton CPQ leveraging its best-in-class AI-driven configurator for the manufacturing industry. Tacton CPQ for Salesforce features automated CAD drawing and engineer-to-order (ETO) processes with out-of-the-box integration to all leading CAD solutions, integration with SAP ERP and Variant Configurator (SAP LO-VC) and open APIs that enable full integration with the existing IT stack.
“We experienced significant customer adoption for Tacton CPQ solutions among European manufacturers over the last two years, making it the ideal time to meet a similar demand in the United States,” said Frederic Laziou, CEO of Tacton. “By continuing to add breakthrough enhancements like AR-powered visual configuration to our CPQ solution, we can drive even greater efficiency for manufacturers, making it even simpler and faster to sell complex products.”
The CEO of Zededa told me in an interview a few months ago that his mission was no less than to build the largest computing company on Earth without owning infrastructure. Its vision—create a new edge economy that allows applications to run anywhere.
When I wrote in April, the company was emerging from stealth mode. Its most recent announcement proclaims:
- First demonstrable cloud-native platform for edge applications, early customer access to end-to-end app operations platform purpose built for the edge underway
- Zero-touch infrastructure modernization for legacy embedded systems; simple to move legacy apps and OS from outdated systems to newer, cloud-native edge hardware
- Zededa joins EdgeX Foundry to bolster the organization’s vision of an open and secure cloud-native future that enables all new IoT applications
- Major edge system vendors turning to Zededa for operational automation, insights and protection of applications running on their systems
Zededa announced early access to its platform that provides real-time apps a simple “on-ramp” to the cloud-native edge. From legacy embedded systems to modern, AI-based IoT apps, the platform provides the scalability, security and visibility required to allow operations teams to unlock the power of real-time apps without concerns about bandwidth, latency or dependency on the cloud.
Operations technology teams have three primary situations to deal with when it comes to IoT applications: how to upgrade and secure a massive install base of legacy embedded systems, how to retrofit existing equipment with IoT sensors and applications to take advantage of real-time data, and how to deploy entirely new applications like AI-powered robots and self-driving fleets.
Closed, monolithic systems at the edge—either closed by design or closed because of legacy embedded device development workflows—are the last major impediment to solving these problems and enabling IoT to achieve its stated $1.3 trillion market potential. Zededa’s platform demonstrates how cloud-native edge solves the most urgent problem for organizations looking into digital transformation—upgrading and protecting legacy systems without truck-rolls—and gives solution providers a way to easily adopt IoT sensors and industrial gateways to provide real-time data to operational software. Initial natively-supported hardware partners include platforms built on ARM and Intel x86 processors from leading vendors including Advantech Corporation, Lanner, SuperMicro, and Scalys.
“Cloud-native edge computing will be a diverse universe unlike anything in cloud datacenters today,” said Roman Shaposhnik, VP of Product and Strategy at Zededa. “We are making the modernization of edge infrastructure secure, simple and automated in preparation for a fundamental shift away from legacy embedded systems. An open system that allows BYO hardware into a cloud-native platform is a start of the future: a computing environment that is distributed, autonomous and cooperative.”
To help drive entirely new applications and operational possibilities at the edge across a diverse universe of devices, Zededa has joined EdgeX Foundry, a vendor-neutral open source project hosted by The Linux Foundation with a goal to build a common open framework for IoT edge computing.
“Interoperability and convergence on common industry standards is vital for organizations deploying next-generation distributed computing solutions at the IoT Edge,” said Jason Shepherd, Chair of EdgeX Foundry Governing Board and Dell Technologies IoT CTO. “By joining EdgeX Foundry’s efforts Zededa will help promote the project’s important work of creating an open ecosystem of secure, interoperable edge applications that will change user experiences and drive the future of business.”
Currently providing early access to select customers, Zededa is accepting sign-ups for demonstrations and private briefings.
Founded in 2016, Zededa is pioneering a cloud-native approach to the deployment, management and security of real-time edge applications at hyperscale for solutions ranging from self-driving cars to industrial robots. Zededa is headquartered in Santa Clara, CA with engineering and market development teams based in India, UK, Germany and Korea.
EdgeX Foundry is an open source project hosted by The Linux Foundation building a common open framework for IoT edge computing and an ecosystem of interoperable components that unifies the marketplace and accelerates the deployment of IoT solutions. Designed to run on any hardware or operating system and with any combination of application environments, EdgeX enables developers to quickly create flexible IoT edge solutions that can easily adapt to changing business needs.
I’m interested in where all this IoT, IT/OT convergence, and digital transformation technology is taking us. This survey on platforms is revealing. Nearly forty percent of respondents are using Platform as a Service (PaaS), containers, and serverless technologies together for flexibility and interoperability.
Companies are using different cloud-native technologies side-by-side at an increasing pace to build both new cloud-native applications and to refactor traditional applications, according to the latest report <https://www.cloudfoundry.org/multi-platform-trend-report-2018> released by the Cloud Foundry Foundation <http://www.cloudfoundry.org/>, home of the most widely-adopted open source cloud technologies in the world.
“As IT Decision Makers settle into their cloud journey, they are more broadly deploying a combination of available platforms, including PaaS, containers and serverless,” said Abby Kearns, Executive Director, Cloud Foundry Foundation. “In this multi-platform world, it should come as no surprise that, as they become more comfortable with these tools, IT decision makers are searching for a suite of technologies to work together. They want technologies that integrate with their current solutions in order to address their needs today—but are flexible enough to address their needs in the future.”
Key Findings include:
• A Multi-Platform World:Technologies are being used side by side more than ever before. IT decision makers report 77 percent are using or evaluating Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS), 72 percent are using or evaluating containers and 46 percent are using or evaluating serverless computing. More than a third (39 percent) are using a combination of all three technologies together.
• A Mix of New Cloud-Native and Refactoring Legacy Applications:57 percent of IT decision makers report their companies do a mix of building new cloud-native applications and refactoring existing applications, an increase of nine percentage points from late 2017.
• Containers Have Crossed the Chasm: For companies choosing to develop new or refactor existing applications, they are choosing containers.
• Serverless is on the Upswing: Serverless computing is being evaluated with rapid momentum. Only 43 percent of respondents are not using serverless and 10 percent more companies are evaluating serverless than in 2017.
• PaaS Usage Continues to Swell: PaaS is being more broadly deployed than ever before and companies are developing new cloud-native applications at increased momentum. It stands to reason that these two upsurges happen in tandem. This growth in usage is bolstered by the 62 percent of IT decision makers who report their companies save over $100,000 by using a PaaS.
• Flexibility and Interoperability are Key: IT decision makers ranked “Integration with existing tools” and “Flexibility to work with new tools” in the top five attributes in a platform, alongside Security, Support, and Price.
Less than six months ago, the Foundation’s 2017 report “Innovation & Relevance: A Crossroads on the Cloud Journey <https://www.cloudfoundry.org/cloud-journey-report/>” indicated IT decision makers were advancing in their cloud journeys. In 2016, IT Decision Makers reported a lack of clarity around IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) and PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) technologies, and most were still in the evaluation stages. By late 2017, they had progressed to selection and broader deployment of cloud solutions. Twenty percent report of IT decision makers report primarily building new cloud-native applications, up five percentage points from last year, while 13 percent say they are primarily refactoring, a drop of 11 points. As an increasing number of companies are developing new cloud-native applications, PaaS is being broadly deployed by more companies than ever. It stands to reason that these two upsurges happen in tandem.
Cloud Foundry Application Runtime is a mature and growing cloud application platform used by large enterprises to develop and deploy cloud-native applications, saving them significant amounts of time and resources. Enterprises benefit from the consistency of Cloud Foundry Application Runtime across a variety of distributions of the platform, thanks to a Certified Provider program. Cloud Foundry Container Runtime combines Kubernetes with the power of Cloud Foundry BOSH, enabling a uniform way to instantiate, deploy and manage highly available Kubernetes clusters on any cloud, making deployment, management and integration of containers easy.
To receive a copy of the survey, go here <https://www.cloudfoundry.org/multi-platform-trend-report-2018>. The survey was conducted and produced by ClearPath Strategies <http://www.clearpath-strategies.com/>, a strategic consulting and research firm for the world’s leaders and progressive forces.
Cloud Foundry is an open source technology backed by the largest technology companies in the world, including Dell EMC, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Pivotal, SAP and SUSE, and is being used by leaders in manufacturing, telecommunications and financial services. Only Cloud Foundry delivers the velocity needed to continuously deliver apps at the speed of business. Cloud Foundry’s container-based architecture runs apps in any language on your choice of cloud — Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, OpenStack, VMware vSphere, and more. With a robust services ecosystem and simple integration with existing technologies, Cloud Foundry is the modern standard for mission critical apps for global organizations.
The Cloud Foundry Foundation is an independent non-profit open source organization formed to sustain the development, promotion and adoption of Cloud Foundry as the industry standard for delivering the best developer experiences to companies of all sizes. The Foundation projects include Cloud Foundry Application Runtime, Cloud Foundry Container Runtime, BOSH, Open Service Broker API, Abacus, CF-Local, CredHub, ServiceFabrik, Stratos and more. Cloud Foundry makes it faster and easier to build, test, deploy and scale applications, and is used by more than half the Fortune 500, representing nearly $15 trillion in combined revenue. Cloud Foundry is hosted by The Linux Foundation and is an Apache 2.0 licensed project available on Github:https://github.com/cloudfoundry. To learn more, visit:http://www.cloudfoundry.org <http://www.cloudfoundry.org/>.
Here I go to yet another IT conference to talk convergence and platform. Salesforce invited me to its summer marketing conference in June and promised an interview with a Vice President. I could take my wife out to a good anniversary dinner, visit family, and go to a tech conference with a good interview all on one trip. Too good to pass up.
This was the Salesforce Connections conference. Not as big as Dreamforce in San Francisco, but still quite large by our standards in manufacturing.
Salesforce is more than the CRM company it was. Many acquisitions later, it has assembled an array of technology. Like all tech companies, it has a platform. In fact due to its open APIs, you could use it, too. Some time ago, I interviewed the CEO of a manufacturing ERP company called Kenandy that was build upon the Salesforce platform. Rootstriker, another ERP company build on the Salesforce platform, recently acquired Kenandy.
Featured in one keynote was an application by MTD, a manufacturer of lawn tractors (Cub Cadet, etc.). No, Salesforce doesn’t run machines. It does help connect the manufacturer with its end customers and then with its dealers with feedback to the manufacturer.
The idea is that customers do online research and so need to be reached in many ways (thus Salesforce marketing). MTD erected an online store on the Salesforce platform (in simplified terms) for direct to the consumer interaction. An order is fulfilled by the local dealer. The dealer still gets margin and relationship and as an extra added bonus, the opportunity for service business. Linking all back to MTD, it gets to know the customer, satisfies the dealer, plus receiving data from the service business feeds back into product development.
Achyut Jajoo, Salesforce VP automotive/manufacturing, told me industry is moving from product centric to system, e.g., autonomous vehicles, mobility services, digital signals; factory automation, geographic expansion, intelligence, vehicle sales. Mobility services lead to transaction service—over air updates, location based services.
He noted that people start online and mostly know what they want before visiting a dealer. Other manufacturing customers tying their whole sales systems back to manufacturing include John Deere and Ecolab.
“State of the Connected Customer” report
Before I went to the conference, Saleforce sent me this interesting report—a survey of over 6,700 consumers and business buyers worldwide that looks at the ever changing landscape of customers’ expectations, the emerging technologies influencing these expectations and the role trust plays in the customer experience.
Customers today are energized by tech innovations — but also plagued by deepening distrust of the companies that provide them. They have high expectations about what makes a great customer experience, and not a lot of patience for companies that fail to deliver.
These trends impact every company, regardless of whether they sell to consumers or business buyers purchasing on behalf of their companies. In this research, “customers” is an aggregate of both consumer and business buyer responses.
The report dives into the nuances of this tricky customer landscape. Here are five of the high-level findings our research brought to light:
1. Customer experience matters even more than you think
Eighty percent of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services. A majority take this sentiment a step further by voting with their wallets; 57% have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better experience.
2. B2B expectations mirror B2C standards
The concept of “B2Me” isn’t new, but it’s gathering steam. Eighty-two percent of business buyers want the same experience as when they’re buying for themselves. But only 27% say companies generally excel at meeting their standards for an overall B2B experience, signaling ample room to improve.
3. Companies face new connected mandates
For 84% of customers, being treated like a person — and not a number — is very important to win their business. Another 70% say connected processes are very important to win their business (such as seamless handoffs between departments and channels, or contextualized engagement based on earlier interactions).
Even before a purchase, personalization is hugely important; 59% of customers say tailored engagement based on past interactions is very important to win their business.
While they buy, 78% of business buyers seek salespeople that act as trusted advisors with knowledge of their needs and industry.
4. Technology sets new benchmarks for innovation
Real innovation, not lip service, is a deciding factor for most customers. 56% of customers (including 66% of business buyers) actively seek to buy from the most innovative companies.
While some emerging technologies are only starting to take root, a majority of customers say these technologies have transformed (or are actively transforming) their expectations: the Internet of Things (60%), voice-activated personal assistants (59%), and AI (51%).
5. Facing a crisis of trust: finding the balance between personalization and privacy
Sixty-two percent of customers say they’re more afraid of their data being compromised now than they were two years ago — and nearly half of customers (45%) feel confused about how companies use their data.
82% of customers will share relevant information about themselves in exchange for connections between their digital and in-person experiences.
81% of customers will share relevant information about themselves in exchange for more consultative help from salespeople.
85% of customers will share relevant information about themselves in exchange for proactive customer service.
For 92% of customers, the ability to control what personal information is collected makes them more likely to trust a company with that information.
Fourth in the series of posts as I digest all of the information I gathered at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Discover 2018 in Las Vegas. This post focuses on use cases. Yes, people, there are people some in manufacturing and some not who are using HPE IoT and Edge computing for fun and profit.
First off, a panel assembled by Tom Bradicich, VP and GM IoT and Edge and Ph.D. entitled Intelligence at the Edge.
Nathalie Elad of Comcast- We are an aggregator of data from homes sending this data from local server to cloud. He is working with HPE on virtualization. No, it doesn’t collect individual family usage to sell to others (yes, it came up). But the company does need data to know how to channel bandwidth. The challenge-“we double bits every 18 months and need to flex up and down during the day.” Interesting stat—there used to be 3.3 devices per house, now may be 20 or even 30.
Tim Thai, Tesla- OT—IT is still a challenge. “The Edge is dynamic, wherever business sets up shop.” Regarding IoT, there are “Things” in manufacturing-control and sensors. They incorporate sensors in testing of technology in cars. Not to mention “there are a ton of sensors in a car.”
Philip Rostle, Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 racing, discussed F1 race car as the edge. There are lots of channels coming off the car during a race. They measure performance versus predicted. You think you have connection problems, he described connection in race as “variable”. Every car has a GPS. They track all cars in the race trying to predict status of the other cars. They run scenarios, analytics, quickly at the edge during a race to help determine strategy. Took “moonshot” server power to the edge so that they get maximum performance within the rules of F1.
In a special breakfast session, we talked with the CTO of the Ryder Cup and European PGA Tour. Think you know golf? Ever wonder about some of the stats that the TV announcers can quote during an event? Well, the tour requires a lot of data. And to get that data, they need connectivity. Golf is also an entertainment event. There are 50,000 spectators at the Ryder Cup. They all expect WiFi to access real-time information about the tournament.
First the data. Every shot has a dozen parameters to capture for every golfer. These are logged on the course. To connect, they use Aruba wireless networking devices. There are 30 switches and 700 access points. They collect 20K data points for scoring; 140K data points for other shot information. “Data drives insights that leads to performance for golfers.” They can track each golfer and also track spectator traffic patterns. An untold story, they lay 18km of fiber cable each tournament; ready to go for Wednesday morning and tear down beginning Sunday evening.
Mike Orr, director of digital transformation at Murphy Oil, uses Edgeline on oil platforms. He noted that his biggest hurdle was working with IT mostly due to its legacy software systems. He made this technology economics point—when oil went from $140 to $20, company laid off many workers. The only way he could get his work done was with technology.
I’ve already discussed the Texmark Chemicals “Refinery of the Future” use case, but I learned a few additional points at this conference.
Intel supplied streaming video analytics—used for physical security/monitoring, open gate for railway access allowed humans and critters into the site, monitored for exception to alert operators.
Deloitte is developing an IoT practice. It assembled an ecosystem including NI, Allied, ThingWorx, OSIsoft, SparkCognition AI for pumps. It also developed the operator dashboards for the project.
All together there were 12 partners in the ecosystem that completed the project that included predictive maintenance for two critical pumps and the video surveillance system.
HPE coordinated the entire project.
The insurance company was impetus to do something to upgrade the technology. Texmark kicked off the project by renting a party bus and taking 15 employees to the HPE IoT lab in Houston. They saw a demo of a pump with FlowServe monitoring and analytics. Employees discussed and picked the initial project targets—two critical pumps in the process plus the “video as a sensor” for the railway access. Getting early employee involvement was the key factor for successful implementation.
Have you been wondering about GE Digital and such products as Predix Asset Performance Management since the announcements of the new GE CEO reducing the group and throwing it into turmoil?
Well, just when I realized I had not heard anything for a while, this press release appeared. I don’t usually write about the announcements that come daily about sales “wins” or about success stories. But I felt this was significant in that it was news that GE Digital is still out there and that here is a user that is not a GE company. Also it reflects a trend of collaboration among companies. Plus another trend—one of the original hopes for the Industrial Internet of Things, that is, adding ability for OEMs to monitor their equipment at the customer’s site and provide service and support.
Here, GE Digital and SIG, a leading provider of packaging systems and solutions for the food and beverage industry, announced a strategic partnership to power digital innovation in food and beverage packaging.
SIG will deploy GE Digital’s PredixAsset Performance Management (APM) and Predix ServiceMax industrial applications across more than 400 customer factories worldwide to drive new levels of efficiency, create intelligent solutions and enable new possibilities for its customers.
The food and beverage industry is ripe for digital transformation, with consumers increasingly seeking innovative, convenient products that are not only safe and sustainable but also affordable and differentiated. At the same time, producers are facing competitive pressures, supply chain complexities and ever-shorter production cycles – creating an increased need for technologies that can enable producers to quickly identify, predict and act on changing consumer and market demands.
The unique combination of GE Digital’s APM and ServiceMax applications will enable SIG to build an end-to-end digital platform that will bring a new level of insight and data-driven intelligence to its customers worldwide – helping them and SIG transform how they predict, manage and service the entire lifecycle of SIG filling lines. By automatically collecting and analyzing asset data – tapping into billions of data points across its operations globally in real time – SIG and their customers can move beyond traditional asset monitoring and predictive service models to reimagine their supply chain, enhance quality control technologies and evolve their portfolio mix.
“Our ability to harness data is central to delivering on our promise of opening up new opportunities for our customers,” said Rolf Stangl, SIG, CEO. “By tapping into information in new and innovative ways, we will be able to deliver an unmatched level of performance, security, transparency and creativity across the entire food and beverage supply chain – through to the end consumer.”
SIG’s customers fill more than 10,000 unique products into SIG packaging across 65 countries worldwide. In 2017 alone, SIG produced 33.6 billion carton packs for its customers. Through this large-scale partnership, SIG and GE Digital will co-innovate packaging solutions and technologies to address the industry’s two biggest needs today: improving asset performance and optimizing service delivery.
The new digital service model will also enable SIG to deliver new solutions and business models based on advanced performance metrics, including as-a-service delivery, performance-based and subscription solutions.
The initial deployment is expected to go live in July 2018 with the global rollout anticipated to begin in January 2019.