Open Source Faces Off Versus Proprietary Software

Open Source Faces Off Versus Proprietary Software

Two Polish software developers engage in conversation weekly on The Podcast. One wrote the original version of Nozbe the Getting Things Done app I use. Michael Sliwinski talked of using open source software to help him write his app and start his company. His Apple developer Radek Pietruszewski in episode 157 discussed how they wrote a piece of database code they dubbed WatermelonDB and released it into open source on GitHub.

I talk about the benefits of open source as an introduction to things I gleaned from last week’s annual trip to the Sacramento, CA area and the Inductive Automation Ignition Community Conference. Community was the operative word as the gathering of several hundred (I never heard an exact count, but the rumor was there were more than 600) integrators and users crowded into the Harris Center in Folsom for conversation, training, and updates.

On a side note, I’ve been unusually swamped with my annual project of assigning referees to high school and US Soccer youth contests. It seems as if half of the preliminary work I put in assigning before the season were washed away in an unusually wet late summer. Rescheduling is hell. Referees are tired of hearing from me. But I have only 2.5 weeks left in the high school season and two weeks beyond that will close the club season. Then I take a six-month break. Therefore, my energy level for writing has been sapped and the frequency here and on my podcast have suffered.

Founder and CEO Steve Hechtman betrayed his usual laid back demeanor talking about company growth and especially the latest release—Ignition 8—to be released in a few months. I have few details, but developers solved many platform problems caused by integrators pushing the envelop of HMI SCADA software.

Chief Strategy Officer Don Pearson told how the company has always embodied the OT/IT convergence meme with Hechtman coming from an OT background as an integrator and co-developers and now co-directors of software engineering Carl Gould and Colby Clegg were trained in IT technologies.

Pearson began the discussion of open source that continued throughout the conference. While Inductive Automation has always been a proponent of open standards—it still fully supports OPC UA, for example—it is also an open source user and contributor. The technologies strongly promoted at the conference were MQTT (a transport protocol) and Sparkplug (an information carrier in this case used to communicate Ignition tag information from source to consumer). Developer Cirrus Link has placed Sparkplug in the open source Eclipse Foundation.

Speakers talked with assurance about open source, but there was a thread of defensiveness in the discussion, too. Pearson quoted Maeterlinck, “At every crossroad on the way that leads to the future, each progressive spirit is opposed by a thousand men appointed to guard the past.” Eclipse Foundation Executive Director Mike Milinkovich proclaimed, “Software is eating the world, and open source is eating software.”

I like both open source and open standards. They both have propelled industry enabling innovation and limiting lock-in. I remember downloading the first Java JDK in the 90s and trying out the eclipse platform in early 2002. All pretty cool stuff. The Inductive Automation adoption of open source is refreshing in the industry.

Here are a few bullet points from the Carl-Colby show introducing Ignition 8:

  • Building on the past, but with a new beginning
  • New platform:
  • Revamped tag system to reduce memory overload
  • New scripting app
  • Subscription and data model
  • Extensibility
  • Dynamic writable UDT parameters
  • Deployment architecture, true project inheritance
  • Project resource management
  • Ignition perspective, new mobile module, built up from ground new

I really should add that while Ignition is very good software, most of the people at the conference told me that they were enticed into the system by the pricing. From the beginning, Inductive Automation decided to upset the software pricing model prevalent in the industry. It is a growing company…

Sepasoft

Inductive had acquired an MES company, integrated with Ignition, and has now spun it off into a separate company run by Tom Hechtman, brother to Steve. Its modular software includes many typical MES applications such as track and trace, workflow, OEE, recipe management, and more. Hechtman discussed a Lean Six Sigma tool kit. He noted the staff has doubled in the nine years since acquisition. It is an ISA 95 and B2MML solution. And also now a MESA International member.

Other notes from the conference

Table top exhibits from the conference sponsors were always packed with curious engineers seeking solutions.

Opto 22’s VP Marketing Benson Hougland told me they can’t build the Groov EPIC PLC fast enough for demand. That product combined with Ignition is a powerful control and SCADA platform—as sales attest.

Albert Rooyakkers, founder/CEO of Bedrock Automation told me that his sub-$1000 controller is selling well. Bedrock specializes in secure and hardened controllers—ideal for power, pipeline, and other such applications. He told me, “Secure SCADA with Ignition is coming.” His key word is secure.

IMTS 2018 Features Variety of Manufacturing Technologies

IMTS 2018 Features Variety of Manufacturing Technologies

IMTS has been a huge show for many years. As you might expect from a trade show, the theme is broad. Exhibitors are a diverse lot. Things I saw indicating a new wave of technologies including machines designed to work with humans (so-called “cobots”) and various aspects of Industrial Internet of Things. Following are a few specifics.

Formerly the International Machine Tool Show and now the International Manufacturing Technology Show, the South Hall of Chicago’s McCormick Place is still filled with huge machining centers. The North Hall was packed with robotics, components, and other automation products. Much of this flows over to the East Hall where several aisles were devoted to Hannover Messe automation companies—my sweet spot. Even the West Hall was packed.

Beckhoff proclaimed, “Solve the IoT hardware, software and networking puzzle.”

The company introduced ultra-compact Industrial PCs (IPCs). These IPCs are Microsoft Azure Certified and can work just as easily with other major cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and SAP HANA.

Significant updates will span three key areas of the TwinCAT software suite: new HTML5-enabled TwinCAT HMI for industrial displays and mobile devices, important data processing expansions in the TwinCAT Analytics offering, and TwinCAT 3 Motion Designer, which adds a deep set of valuable tools to commission entire motor, drive and mechanical systems in software. Motion Designer can be integrated into the standard TwinCAT 3 software platform or it can be used as a stand-alone motion system engineering tool.

EK1000 EtherCAT TSN Coupler expands the industrial Ethernet capabilities of the EtherCAT I/O system to utilize TSN (Time-Sensitive Networking) technology. The EK1000 enables communication among high-performance EtherCAT segments with remote EtherCAT controllers via heterogeneous Ethernet networks.

Ideagen plc, the UK-based software firm, announced the acquisition of American quality inspection software provider, InspectionXpert. Based in Raleigh, North Carolina, InspectionXpert currently generates $2.8 million in revenue and will bring more than 1,000 clients including Boeing, Kohler and Pratt & Whitney to Ideagen’s existing customer base.

Speaking at IMTS, Chicago, Ideagen CEO, Ben Dorks, said: “As well as significantly enhancing our manufacturing supply chain product suite, the acquisition of InspectionXpert provides Ideagen with a fantastic opportunity for growth by broadening upsell and cross-selling opportunities, increasing our customer footprint and expanding our geographical reach.”

InspectionXpert’s products, InspectionXpert and QualityXpert, enable organizations in the precision manufacturing industry and associated supply chains to simplify inspection planning, execution and reporting and general quality through digitalization of paper-based processes.

InspectionXpert and QualityXpert will be integrated into Ideagen’s existing software suite, which will enhance Software as a Service (SaaS) revenues and provide excellent opportunities for future growth.

Energid released Actin 5, an update to its robot software development kit (SDK). Called the industry’s only real-time adaptive motion control software, it allows robotic system developers to focus on the robot’s task rather than joint movement and paths. It responds in real time to sensory input and directs the robot on the most efficient path while avoiding collisions. The robot motion is updated dynamically without requiring reprogramming, even in dynamic, mission-critical environments.

Forcam develops software solutions in the area of MES, IIoT, and OEE. It leans into the trend of developing platforms. Its platform is built with open APIs with the latest programming languages and tools. It supports Microsoft Azure Cloud, SAP ERP, Maximo maintenance/asset applications, and Apple iPads for input. The platform helps reduce integration time and expense.

I came across the Dell Technologies booth in the automation hall. The big news was a collaboration with Tridium and Intel for IIoT solutions.

The IIoT solution is built on the Niagara Framework, Tridium’s open technology platform, and combines software and consulting services to help customers begin the digital transformation of their businesses.

The Niagara-based IIoT solution built with Dell and Intel technology will comprise a complete hardware and software stack delivered as a finished solution for ease of adoption, and will encompass consulting services from subject matter experts to support implementation. The application layer of the IIoT solution is being developed and supported by Tridium and will expand over time with solutions designed for the telecom and energy sectors.

Dell Edge and IoT Solutions Extend to Video Surveillance

Dell Edge and IoT Solutions Extend to Video Surveillance

Dell’s Edge and IoT Solutions bring new live to streaming video applications. Dell also expands portfolio of VMware solutions.

VMWorld presented by VMWare brought a crowd to Las Vegas this week—but not me. I know of bunch of Dell people there, but I’m not tapped in to VMWare. Know the company, though, and important technology for IT.

Last week Dell held a virtual conference for analysts and bloggers previewing some of the announcements that would be coming from the event.

This one reminds me of the history of video surveillance technology I’ve followed for at least 10 years. Maybe more. As I listened to the presentations, I thought about how all this IoT stuff we hear about is actually a confluence of technologies enabling realization of many dreams.

Dell Technologies’ Edge and IoT Solutions Division announced solutions and bundles to simplify deployment of secure, scalable solutions for edge computing and IoT use cases. This will drive workloads for computer vision – enabled by imaging sensors – and machine intelligence – characterized by structured telemetry from sensors and control systems. Dell Technologies has collaborated with Intel, who has helped advance these solutions with their computer vision and analytics technologies.

Cameras provide rich information about the physical world, but the deluge of video data creates too much data for humans to cost-effectively monitor for real-time decision making. Applying analytics, such as Artificial Intelligence, to these data streams automates powerful, actionable insights. Events driven by computer vision and analyzed together with telemetry from machines – including data that imaging sensors cannot provide, such as voltage, current and pressure – results in even more powerful insights.

By enabling computer vision with Dell Technologies IoT solutions, customers can more accurately, efficiently and effectively “see” relevant information pertaining to areas such as public safety, customer experience, and product inventory and quality. Surveillance is the first use case to which Dell Technologies has applied computer vision, so customers can more cost-effectively monitor events in the physical world and automate decision‐making.

The IoT Solution for Surveillance is specifically built to transform and simplify how surveillance technology is delivered with an easy to deploy and manage hyper-converged, software-defined solution. Available later this year to purchase as a package, the engineered, pre-integrated solution will provide a consistent foundation from edge to distributed core to cloud. It will also be ready to run on day one with customer data to speed the return on investment. The solution is currently available as a reference architecture to align systems and build a framework for computer vision learning and adoption for other use cases.

Dell Technologies IoT Solutions Partner Program

Through this program, Dell Technologies has identified several partners demonstrating strong use case focus and clear return on investment to create the new Dell Technologies IoT Connected Bundles. The bundles include sensors and licensed software from partners tailored for specific customer use cases, together with various combinations of Dell Technologies infrastructure spanning edge gateway, embedded PC and server hardware. This is in addition to complimentary software like VMware Pulse IoT Center for securing, managing and monitoring these solutions at scale.

Dell Technologies continues its commitment to openness and standardization in IoT. It actively participates in EdgeX Foundry, a vendor-neutral open source project focusing on building a common interoperability framework to facilitate an ecosystem for edge computing. The project, which has grown to more than 60 member organizations, recently announced the ‘California’ code release, a major step in evolving the EdgeX framework to support developer requirements for deployment in business-critical IoT applications. Dell Technologies Capital recently invested in IOTech Systems, a startup offering a commercially packaged version of this framework that enables customers to focus on their preferred value-add instead of supporting the open source code.

Dell Technologies also participates in the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), the OpenFog Consortium and the Automotive Edge Computing Consortium (AECC).

Other VMWorld News

At many companies, the time it takes for a product or service to go from concept to general availability depends on where a company is on its IT transformation journey. A more responsive IT department allows the business to respond more quickly to evolving external customer demands.

The benefits of the enhancements to Dell’s portfolio of VMware-based solutions include:

At the Edge:

  • A ready-to-work experience enabling employees to boot up, log in, and be productive in minutes. Preconfigured apps and settings reduce time and resources associated with manual device imaging, repackaging and shipment. The Dell Provisioning for VMware Workspace ONE service enables automatic device setup and extends the efficiencies of cloud management to configuration and deployment.
  • Simplified PC lifecycle management with expanded Dell PC-as-a-Service offerings for more customers and regions, including PCaaS for Business (20 to 300 units) and PCaaS for Enterprise (more than 300 units). Dell offers the latest PCs, deployment options – including Dell Provisioning for VMware Workspace ONE, software, peripherals, lifecycle services and financing – at a single, predictable price per seat per month.
  • Scalability and stability with a consistent foundation from edge to distributed core to cloud with the new Dell IoT Solution for Surveillance, which automates scaling enterprises on day one with customer data, speeding up return on investment.

To the Core:

  • Increase workload capacity, performance, scalability and control with the new Dell EMC VxRail G560, which delivers greater density in a 2U form factor. The Dell EMC VxRail G560 outperforms the previous Dell EMC VxRail G Series with 1.75X more cores; 2X increase in processing power; 4X more memory; and 3X capacity increase improvement in the boot device.
  • Save time and lower operational expenses with synchronized Dell EMC VxRail Appliance and VMware vSAN update releases, so customers get the latest technology features as quickly as possible to rapidly address changing business needs.
  • Continuous innovation and reduction of risk with Dell EMC VxRack SDDC engineered with Dell EMC VxRail E, P, V and now S Series models, all based on 14th generation PowerEdge servers.
  • Faster time to production with the Dell EMC Networking Fabric Design Center, now including Dell EMC VxRail. The Fabric Design Center, an intuitive online tool, helps ensure the most efficient and effective networking design for deployment success.
  • Investment protection with Dell EMC’s Future-Proof Loyalty Program protects customers’ core, edge and cloud investments, now including first-time HCI solution support with Dell EMC VxRail, for a set of advanced technology capabilities and programs that enable Dell EMC solutions to offer value for the entire lifetime of customers’ applications.
  • Software-defined storage environment flexibility is further extended with Dell EMC vSAN Ready Nodes support on the new Dell EMC PowerEdge MX, which provides a highly flexible platform for vSAN Ready Nodes as HCI building blocks. The PowerEdge MX can hold up to eight vSAN Ready Nodes and help create a foundation for a self-sustained VMware Cloud Foundation cluster. It offers right-sized compute, storage and top-of-rack switching all in one high-density package, with the infrastructure managed through a single interface. The PowerEdge MX also supports SATA, SAS and NVMe storage devices, offering the cost benefits of storage tiering with VMware vSAN.
Location Sensing Partnership Offers New Take on Digital Twin

Location Sensing Partnership Offers New Take on Digital Twin

Quuppa introduced me to its unique location sensing technology at Hannover last April and I wrote about it here.

Today’s announcement concerns a partnership with Ubisense Group plc, a market leader in enterprise location intelligence solutions, as part of Ubisense’s strategy to integrate leading location and identification technologies with its open and sensor-agnostic SmartSpace software platform, enabling customers to create a truly enterprise-wide digital twin along the entire value chain of critical manufacturing activities.

Many of the world’s major manufacturers benefit from Ubisense SmartSpace systems which create a real-time, operational digital twin and use it to change factory behavior based on the locations of tools, people and work-in-progress. SmartSpace allows customers to integrate a broad range of sensing capabilities to address different use cases and a wide range of ROIs, and leverage existing location technology they may already be using. By working with Quuppa to support applications where the Quuppa Intelligent Locating System offers the best ROI, Ubisense also expects to extend the reach of SmartSpace further into the logistics, construction and healthcare markets.

Quuppa utilizes a unique combination of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and the Angle of Arrival (AoA) methodology, as well as advanced location algorithms that have been developed over the course of more than 15 years, to calculate highly accurate, real-time indoor positioning, even in the most demanding environments. The low-power system is a reliable, highly-customisable, scalable and cost-efficient solution for providing an accurate “dot on the map.” The Quuppa solution provides another powerful source of information to drive location-aware applications within Ubisense’s SmartSpace platform. It complements the many sensors already integrated with SmartSpace, including Ubisense’s own market-leading UWB location systems (Dimension 4 and AngleID), other third-party location sensors, third-party passive RFID tag readers, and barcode systems.

Dr. Andy Ward, CTO at Ubisense, said: “One of the key benefits of our SmartSpace platform is the ability to integrate a wide range of data sources to facilitate building sensor-rich, industrial-scale systems, allowing us to propose the right location sensor technology for each application. We’re looking forward to seeing powerful additional use cases develop as customers explore our joint capabilities with Quuppa.”

Thomas Hasselman, chief marketing officer at Quuppa, said: “The Quuppa Ecosystem—now more than 90 partners strong—continues to flourish, bringing the power of highly accurate, reliable and scalable location services to a growing number of companies across a variety of industries through our commitment to BLE technology. In partnering with Ubisense, we are delivering new opportunities to SmartSpace customers that are using location as a business driver.”

Siemens Acquisition Bolsters Mindsphere Platform

Siemens Acquisition Bolsters Mindsphere Platform

Siemens is serious about building out its IoT platform, Mindsphere, on it way to realizing the vision of the technology supplier of digital transformation in manufacturing. How else to describe the €0.6 billion (or about $700 million) acquisition of Mendix, a popular low-code application development platform.

Mendix, which was founded in the Netherlands but now has its headquarters in Boston, will continue to operate as usual and keep its name, but Siemens notes that it will also use the company’s technology to accelerate its own cloud, IoT and digital enterprise ambitions.

“As part of our digitalization strategy, Siemens continues to invest in software offerings for the Digital Enterprise. With the acquisition of Mendix, Siemens continues to add to its comprehensive Digital Enterprise and MindSphere IoT portfolio, with cloud domain expertise, cloud agnostic platform solutions and highly skilled people,” said Jan Mrosik, CEO of Siemens’ Digital Factory Division.

Mendix’s service is already deeply integrated into IBMs’, SAP’s and Pivotal‘s cloud services. Mendix co-founder and CEO Derek Roos notes that his company and Siemens first discussed a strategic partnership, but as those talks progressed, the two companies moved toward an acquisition instead. Roos argues that the two companies’ visions are quite similar and that Siemens is committed to helping accelerate Mendix’s growth, extend the company’s platform and combine it with Siemen’s existing MindSphere IoT system.

“If you’ve ever wondered which low-code platform will have the viability to invest and win in the long term, you no longer have to guess,” Roos writes. “This commitment and investment from Siemens will allow us to accelerate R&D and geo-expansion investments significantly. You’re going to see faster innovation, more reach and an even better customer experience from us.”

Over the course of the last few years, ‘low-code’ has become increasingly popular as more and more enterprises try to enable all of their employees to access and use the data they now store. Not every employee is going to learn how to program, though, so tools like Mendix, K2 and others now make it easy for non-developers to quickly built (mostly database-backed) applications. (See my last post on ERP and “consumerization”.)

Here is a longer explanation from Roos’ blog:
[https://www.mendix.com/blog/siemens-to-acquire-mendix/]

As the world around us gets increasingly connected, organizations are facing increasing challenges to cope with vast amounts of data and customers are increasingly expecting entirely new experiences and interactions. New technologies like VR, IoT and AI will drive an incredible convergence between the digital and physical worlds, creating entirely new industries and business moments in which people, data, businesses and things work together, dynamically.

This, once again, will put more pressure on business/IT organizations to adapt and change how apps are built and consumed, in ways that few can comprehend right now. And just like we’ve done for web and mobile applications, we also intend to set the direction and lead the market for our customers in this new era.

And this is where Siemens comes in.

As one of the world’s largest industrial powerhouses, there are few companies on the planet that are dealing more mission-critical data and better positioned to blur the lines between our physical and digital worlds. With millions of connected devices and systems, operations in more than 200 countries, and more than 15,000 software engineers, Siemens has access to know-how, expertise and reach few others can match. Even fewer software companies can attempt to compete with such scale in ‘things’.

Siemens has been on a mission to leverage its foothold and data-rich infrastructure in the physical world, to become a leader in the digital world, investing over $10B in the last decade to acquire and build out software businesses, and to create the Industrial IoT platform, MindSphere.

Our two teams first met over a year ago and what started as a discussion about a strategic partnership, gradually evolved into a much bigger vision. The more time we spent together, the more we realized how our visions were aligned. Together with Joe Kaeser, CEO Siemens AG, Jan Mrosik, CEO Digital Factory Division, and Tony Hemmelgarn, CEO PLM Software, we identified three strategic areas where we could win together:

  • Accelerate Mendix’ leadership in low-code by doubling down on R&D investments and geographical expansion: By becoming a part of Siemens, we will be able to access an even bigger investment than going public, and we will immediately get access to an enormous global infrastructure that would take much longer to stand-up ourselves. We are committed to extending our leadership in low-code and will significantly accelerate investments in R&D, Customer Success and global expansion.
  • Combine Mendix and MindSphere to create the digital operating system for the physical world: With billions of intelligent devices and machines connected to the cloud, organizations will require a new kind of platform to turn these massive amounts of data into real-time business value. By combining Mendix and MindSphere, we will be in a unique position to bridge the physical and digital worlds.
  • Extend the Mendix platform to develop world-class and deeply integrated industry SaaS solutions: Becoming a part of Siemens gives us unprecedented access to deep industry know-how, network and expertise. Together with our partner ecosystem, we’ll be able to extend the Mendix platform with deeply integrated vertical solutions across a wide range of industries. Combining low-code with best-practice solutions and templates will provide even more value and speed to market for our customers.
Salesforce Another Meeting of IT and OT

Salesforce Another Meeting of IT and OT

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.

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