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.

Pondering Automation Company Strategies

Pondering Automation Company Strategies

Rockwell Automation’s recent huge investment in PTC for only 8% of the company has sparked a number of thoughts on strategies not only of Rockwell Automation, but also other companies in the market. We’re looking not only at Rockwell Automation in this brief analysis, but also Siemens, Schneider Electric, and ABB.

I’ve left out Emerson, Honeywell, and Yokogawa. The only interesting thing in that part of the market is Emerson’s abortive run at acquiring Rockwell. That was strange. I don’t think that Emerson could have digested such a meal.

The analysis is not to knock anyone but to look for trends and strategies of some of our major suppliers.

I think it begins with Siemens. An executive explained the company’s digital factory strategy and vision many years ago. Then the company acquired UGS and added PLM, CAD, and other digital technologies. There followed other similar acquisitions. I’m thinking mainly of the COMOS product, here.

If you are looking for an articulation of the strategy, I suggest looking no further than Industrie 4.0 and cyber-physical systems.

Sticking with Europe and the competition over there, let’s consider Schneider Electric. This company has been building the “electrification” side of the business which also brought industrial control products and some automation–think Modicon. While it lost considerable market share in PLCs, it did remain in the market. Then it acquired Invensys adding a lot of software (something it never really was good at) but especially process control (Foxboro, etc.). This latter helps it in the power market segment and positions it well against ABB. Siemens of course is the main competitive target. Then is a strange move, Schneider used its software businesses (Wonderware, etc.) as an investment in AVEVA grabbing 51% of the company. Now it, too, has a digital factory strategy in place.

ABB, a strong competitor in the power side of the business and also in process control, acquired B+R Automation. That company was a strong second-tier machine automation supplier fleshing out ABB’s portfolio in the discrete, or machine, automation market. Then it acquired GE’s industrial business strengthening ABB in the “electrification” market. Sounding familiar.

Now look at Rockwell’s investment. That company has flirted with Dassault Systemes over many years for a PLM-to-Control strategy. But nothing ever came of it.

A couple of years ago it acquired thin-client manufacturer ACP and systems integrator Maverick Technologies and MagneMotion a supplier of motion control and conveyor technologies. Then came a large investment in PTC for a small percentage of the company. I speculated that this could be a Digital Factory play along with the respected analyst Joe Barkai, but my friend Keith Larson writing for Putman Publishing (and someone I trust to accurately report on what suppliers are saying) reported that the sought-after prize was a closer integration with ThingWorx. This would be a piece of the Rockwell strategy of “Connected Enterprise” and Larson reported that the target RA product is its MES offering.

In other words, Rockwell Automation seems focused not on the current buzz of Industry 4.0/Industrial Internet of Things/Cyberphysical systems/Digital Factory, but on “making our customers more productive.” Its roots are plant floor and it remains a plant floor supplier.

I am NOT predicting any acquisition of Rockwell Automation, but I do believe that the market needs some continued consolidation. The next five years will be interesting in this market.

HPE Commits to IoT and the Edge

HPE Commits to IoT and the Edge

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) held its annual Discover conference in Las Vegas last week. It has made a sizable commitment to Internet of Things (IoT) and the Edge—areas central to my writing for the past few years. I am floating a number of ideas looking for feedback as I travel, and I’ll bounce some of those here later.

There is so much I learned last week beyond even what I wrote Monday about the new Edgeline computer. Perhaps the best place to start is with my latest discussion with Lin Nease, Chief Technologist IoT at HPE. This was a continuation of a discussion we began in Madrid last November and resumed at Industry of Things World in San Diego in February.

HPE’s power of compute at the Edge fascinates me. Even though my being in Las Vegas precluded being in Boston for LiveWorx, ThingWorx came up in many conversations at Discover. Nease said that ThingWorx (product and division of PTC) has been a good partner. Back to compute power at the edge Nease mentioned this power combined with TSN—Time Sensitive Networking, a new extension of Ethernet promulgated by IEEE.

Indeed, there is sufficient power in Edgeline that an enterprising developer could, for instance, accomplish the software defined DCS that seems to be the dream of some of the engineers at ExxonMobil and the Open Process Automation folks. Anyone out there have time and money?

Speaking of Edge, evidently the enterprise IT bloggers I hung out with during the event try to avoid the term. CEO Antonio Neri had said, “Edge is everything outside the data center.” In the blogger round table that I posted Monday, blogger Alastair Cooke noted, “Gary, we consider everything you do as edge.” Back to Neri who stated 94% of data is wasted; 75% of data comes from the edge.

Following are some points I gleaned from a session called “Harness the Power of Digital Platforms”:

  • HPE is a huge fan of open source & open platforms
  • Digital natives build platforms-e.g. Uber, Google, Amazon, etc.
  • An internal team built an open API platform to solve a problem in supply chain
  • Biggest problem was selling the system internally so that people would actually use the system (never seen that before—said no one anywhere)
  • Traditional—>Digital; everything is a frictionless stream of data
  • Platform always on, always looking for exceptions — sense/respond

HPE has an OEM Solutions group. Following are some points from a session discussing them:

  • OEM Solutions can be Embedded, Integrated, Private Label
  • Everything as a Service — Green Lake is the service offering that OEMs can resell the service
  • Shift to software defined
  • From storage to flash
  • Example—Konica Minolta embedded an Edgeline computing device in a printer called workplace hub that makes it easier to set up and install a new remote office

HPE has momentum in IoT and edge devices—and an organization supporting manufacturing.

Rockwell Joins the Digital Factory and IT/OT Convergence Fray

Rockwell Joins the Digital Factory and IT/OT Convergence Fray

So I decided not to make a cross country trip to San Diego for Rockwell Automation’s RATechEd event this year. I have cross country trips coming up the next two weeks followed by family time. So, I’m doing a one-day business trip plus taking my wife out for dinner in Chicago this week. Anyway, they had informed me that they wouldn’t be setting up interviews but that I’d be welcome to sit in any sessions I wanted. I passed.

Then I see a tweet from PTC today. Blockbuster news. Rockwell Automation’s Connected Enterprise just became connected. It has invested $1B in PTC for an approximate 8% ownership. PTC has [ERP], PLM, and IIoT (Kepware and ThingWorx). By connecting with these technologies, Rockwell now has the possibility of a technology convergence rivaling its rivals in Europe.

There are three of my questions about Rockwell answered:

  1. Other than a refreshing change of culture, what else was Blake Moret going to do to put his stamp on the company?
  2. When was Rockwell Automation going to really connect the enterprise like its slogan has held for several years (about the time I came up with Manufacturing Connection for the new title for my blog)?
  3. How was Rockwell going to answer the digital manufacturing and Industry 4.0 moves made by its European competitors Siemens, Schneider Electric, and ABB?

This is far from an acquisition and just a partnership right now. But it is a big step in the right direction.

Here is the press release I downloaded from Business Wire.

PTC Inc. and Rockwell Automation, Inc. today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for a strategic partnership that is expected to accelerate growth for both companies and enable them to be the partner of choice for customers around the world who want to transform their physical operations with digital technology.

As part of the partnership, Rockwell Automation will make a $1 billion equity investment in PTC, and Rockwell Automation’s Chairman and CEO, Blake Moret, will join PTC’s board of directors effective with the closing of the equity transaction.

The partnership leverages both companies’ resources, technologies, industry expertise, and market presence, and will include technical collaboration across the organizations as well as joint global go-to-market initiatives. In particular, PTC and Rockwell Automation have agreed to align their respective smart factory technologies and combine PTC’s award-winning ThingWorx IoT, Kepware industrial connectivity, and Vuforia augmented reality (AR) platforms with Rockwell Automation’s FactoryTalk MES, FactoryTalk Analytics, and Industrial Automation platforms.

“This strategic alliance will provide the industry with the broadest integrated suite of best-in-class technology, backed by PTC, the leader in IoT and augmented reality, and Rockwell Automation, the leader in industrial automation and information. Our combined customer base will benefit from two world-class organizations that understand their business and deliver comprehensive, innovative, and integrated solutions,” said Jim Heppelmann, President and CEO, PTC. “Leveraging Rockwell Automation’s industry-leading industrial control and software technology, strong brand, and domain expertise with PTC’s award-winning technology enables industrial enterprises to capitalize on the promise of the Industrial IoT. I am incredibly excited about this partnership and the opportunity it provides to fuel our future success.”

Blake Moret, Chairman and CEO, Rockwell Automation, said, “We believe this strategic partnership will enable us to accelerate growth by building on both companies’ records of innovation to extend the value of the Connected Enterprise and deepen our customer relationships. As IT and OT converge, there is a natural alignment between our companies. Together, we will offer the most comprehensive and flexible IoT offering in the industrial space. Our equity investment in PTC reflects our confidence in the partnership and the significant upside we expect it to create for both companies as we work together to profitably grow subscription revenue.”

Rockwell Automation’s solutions business will be a preferred delivery and implementation provider, supported by a robust ecosystem of partners that both companies have established. The strength of both companies across geographies, end markets, and applications is complementary.

Terms

Under the terms of the agreement relating to the equity investment, Rockwell Automation will make a $1 billion equity investment in PTC by acquiring 10,582,010 newly issued shares at a price of $94.50, representing an approximate 8.4% ownership interest in PTC based on PTC’s current outstanding shares pro forma for the share issuance to Rockwell Automation. The price per share represents an 8.6% premium to PTC’s closing stock price on June 8, 2018, the last trading day prior to today’s announcement. Rockwell Automation intends to fund the investment through a combination of cash on hand and commercial paper borrowings. Rockwell Automation will account for its ownership interest in PTC as an Available for Sale security, reported at fair value.

Easy to Build Reports from Automation Data

Easy to Build Reports from Automation Data

Data are worthless without the ability to put it into a context and present it in a simple way to decision makers—no matter where in the company they reside. Enter Ocean Data Systems (ODS) and its product Dream Report.

Note: Dream Report obviously is an advertiser on this blog. However, I’m not a trade magazine, so writing about advertisers isn’t mandatory. I’ve known the Marketing VP for almost 20 years, and he has always represented quality products. I pass this along not as a reviewer but because I think it’s useful.

Ocean Data Systems (ODS) announced that Dream Report version 4.82 is posted and available for download. Along with a broad array of Customer Software Change Requests (SCRs), this release delivers on a theme of Partner Connectivity. Dream Report is now the official solution for the Aveva – ClearSCADA solution and version 4.82 includes drivers to access historical values, historical messages and real-time values. This release also includes new connectivity for the OSIsoft – PI Historian and Asset Framework. Enhanced connectivity is also delivered for the Aveva – Wonderware Online InSight product and the Dream Report – Advanced ODBC Driver for time series data in SQL Databases.

General features and benefits improvements include an enhanced Automatic Statistic Table to add flexibility for ad-hoc analysis, new access to Table Footer data delivering the ability to enhance report calculations using table footer results and support for .xlsm (Excel File Format) to support macros.

“Each new ‘Purpose Built’ Driver added to Dream Report enables Dream Report to ideally support a new market segment and lets those customers benefit from Dream Report – Compliance Reports, Performance Dashboards and Ad-hoc Analysis,” explained Roy Kok, VP Sales and Marketing for Ocean Data Systems. “We always include enhancements that benefit our entire installed base and this release is no different. The Dream Report release notes, in the documentation directory, will detail all changes.”

Founded in 2004, Ocean Data Systems develops software solutions for industrial compliance and performance; reports, dashboards, and ad-hoc analysis and troubleshooting. Dream Report delivers both local and Internet connectivity to all major HMI/SCADA, Historian and business data sources through either proprietary or industry standard drivers. Dream Report’s markets include process, hybrid and discrete; with special functionality for Life Sciences (Pharmaceutical and Biotech), Water, Wastewater, Heat Treat, Building Automation, Energy Management and Manufacturing Operations.

These are the main features of Dream Report:

1- DATA COLLECTION
Dream Report integrates a robust communication kernel to collect data and alarms from multiple real time and historian sources. It uses OPC, OLE, and ODBC standards to connect and collect Data from different suppliers. Moreover, ODS develops custom drivers to leverage native history from SCADA systems, DCS, RTU and more….

2- DATA LOGGING
Dream Report integrates a powerful historian module to log clean and accurate data in any standard database such as SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, Access…
This unique feature position Dream Report not only as a reporting tool, but also as the ideal solution of field Data integration for enterprise applications.

3- DATA EXTRACTION & ANALYSIS
Dream Report integrates a user friendly object library to extract Data statistics and analysis to be displayed in multiple views like tables, Bars, Pies, Charts and more…

4- REPORT DESIGN
Dream Report’s studio integrates an intuitive graphical editor to create and save state of the art reports as templates.

5- REPORT GENERATION & DISTRIBUTION
Dream Report enables to generate reports manually and automatically. The automatic mode enables to execute report on event and on schedule. When ready, reports can be automatically printed, emailed, stored and published over the web.

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