A few of us gathered for a round table discussion of Internet of Things while I was at Dell Technologies World at the beginning of the month. I arrived a little early and had a private round table for several minutes before others arrive and the discussion became broader.
Ray O’Farrell, CTO of VMware and GM of IoT at Dell Technologies, said the focus of last 6 months since the new Internet of Things organization was announced included these three points:
1. Dell is 7 companies, trying to achieve one cohesive strategy across all; one organization when facing customers.
2. Best way is to work within the ecosystem, that is history of VMWare.
3. Building technology and leverage solutions. This is a complex undertaking as not all challenges within IoT are alike—there are few cookie cutter applications.
The evolution of Internet of Things within Dell to Dell EMC to Dell Technologies constitutes an upward spiraling path encompassing the greater breadth of technologies and organization reflecting the post-merger company. When I first came along, the concept was building an ecosystem around selling an edge device appliance. Now the strategy is much broader bringing the goal of IT/OT convergence closer to reality. As I’ve mentioned before, the IT companies are attacking that convergence from the IT side after years of manufacturing/production oriented suppliers trying to accomplish the same thing from the OT side. Maybe like the old country song we’ll meet in the middle someday.
Everyone talks Artificial Intelligence (AI) these days, and Dell Technologies is not exception. However, AI is not the science fiction doom and gloom predicted by Ray Kurzweil, Elon Musk, and others. Mostly it entails machine learning (ML) from detected patterns in the data.
Or as Dell Technologies says, it is applying AI and ML technology to turn data into intelligent insights, drive a faster time to market, and achieve better business outcomes.
• Dell EMC PowerEdge expands portfolio to accelerate AI-driven workloads, analytics, deployment and efficiency
• Deepens relationship with Intel to advance AI community innovation, machine learning (ML) and deep learning (DL) capabilities with Dell EMC Ready Solutions
• Dell Precision Optimizer 5.0 now enhanced with machine learning algorithms, intelligently tunes the speed and productivity of Dell Precision workstations.
• Dell EMC uses AI, ML and DL to transform support and deployment
14th generation Dell EMC PowerEdge four-socket servers and Dell Precision Optimizer 5.0 are designed to further strengthen AI and ML capabilities.
According to the recently released update of the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) 2018 IT Transformation Maturity Curve Index, commissioned by Dell EMC, transformed companies are 18X more likely to make better and faster data-driven decisions than their competition. Additionally, transformed companies are 22X as likely to be ahead of the competition with new products and services to market.
“The Internet of Things is driving an onslaught of data and compute at the edge, requiring organizations to embrace an end-to-end IT infrastructure strategy that can effectively, efficiently and quickly mine all that data into business intelligence gold,” said Jeff Clarke, vice chairman, Products & Operations, Dell. “This is where the power of AI and machine learning becomes real – when organizations can deliver better products, services, solutions and experiences based on data-driven decisions.”
Unlike competitors’ four-socket offerings, these servers also support field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs)3, which excel on data-intensive computations. Both servers feature OpenManage Enterprise to monitor and manage the IT infrastructure, as well as agent-free Integrated Dell Remote Access Controller (iDRAC) for automated, efficient management to improve productivity.
Dell EMC is also announcing its next generation PowerMax storage solution, built with a machine learning engine which makes autonomous storage a reality.
Leveraging predictive analytics and pattern recognition, a single PowerMax system analyzes and forecasts 40 million data sets in real-time per array4, driving six billion decisions per day5 to automatically maximize efficiency and performance of mixed data storage workloads.
The new Dell Precision Optimizer 5.0 uses AI to automatically adjust applications running on Dell Precision workstations to maximize performance by:
• Custom-optimizing applications: Dell Precision Optimizer learns each application’s behavior in the background and uses that data to employ a trained machine learning model that will automatically adjust the system to optimized settings and deliver up to 394% improvement in application performance.
• Automating systems configuration adjustments: Once activated and a supported application is launched, the software automatically adjusts system configurations such as CPU, memory, storage, graphics and operating system settings.
Speaking of partners and collaboration, Dell Technologies and Microsoft join forces to build secure, intelligent edge-to-cloud solution featuring Dell Edge Gateways, VMware Pulse IoT Center, and Microsoft Azure IoT Edge
• Joint IoT solution helps simplify management, enhances security and help lowers cost of deployment at the edge
• Built on innovative analytics applications, management tools and edge gateways to enable network security from edge devices to the cloud
• Accelerates IoT adoption in industry verticals key to economic growth and development
The joint solution offers an underlying IoT infrastructure, management capabilities, and security for customers looking to deploy IoT for scenarios like predictive maintenance, supply chain visibility and other use cases. The solution will deliver:
• Intelligence at the edge with Microsoft Azure IoT Edge: This application extends cloud intelligence to edge devices so that devices can act locally and leverage the cloud for global coordination and machine learning at scale
• Management and monitoring of edge devices with VMware Pulse IoT Center: This provides more secure, enterprise-grade management and monitoring of diverse, certified edge devices including gateways and connected IoT devices, bios and operating systems. This ecosystem will be built over time involving deeper integration and certification to support customer requirements.
• High-performance, rugged Dell Edge Gateways: IoT devices with powerful dual-core Intel® Atom™ processors connect a variety of wired and wireless devices and systems to aggregate and analyze inputs and send relevant data to the cloud
VMware Pulse IoT Center will serve as the management glue between the hardware (Dell Edge Gateways or other certified edge systems), connected sensors and devices and the Microsoft Azure IoT Edge. Initially, Pulse will help to deploy the Microsoft Azure IoT Edge to the requisite edge systems so that it can start collecting, analyzing and acting on data in real-time.
Digitalization is the current hot word describing the latest manufacturing strategies. The concept has morphed from Industrie 4.0, Industrial Internet of Things, and smart manufacturing. The word was all over Hannover Messe this year, and one of the more fervent advocates was Siemens.
How important is this, really?
“What’s at stake with digitalization is the future of manufacturing competitiveness,” says Dean Bartles, Founding Executive Director of the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute. “Germany is ahead, and China is making a big move in this area. More and more countries are adopting these technologies. To remain competitive, US manufacturers are going to have to master digital technologies.”
Bartles was quoted in a report commissioned by Siemens, The race to a digital future: Assessing digital intensity in US manufacturing.
On behalf of Siemens, Longitude Research surveyed 209 senior executives and directors of large US manufacturing organizations to understand the progress of digitalization among discrete and process manufacturers. Topics include trends in digitalization, examples of successful adaptation and suggestions to overcome barriers to moving forward in the digital age.
The Webpage includes a benchmarking tool so that you can compare your efforts to those in the study.
Based upon my own conversations with a variety of suppliers and implementers, I am not surprised that the researchers show two types of adopters: the ‘Efficiency Experts’ and the ‘Revenue Re-inventors’. Both groups are deploying digital technologies to improve productivity and efficiency, but the latter is leading the way in exploring how digital can be progressed even further – to transform their business model and unlock new markets.
Firms in the Revenue Re-inventors group are more likely than Efficiency Experts to say that their financial performance is ahead of their peers. In particular, Revenue Re-inventors are more likely to create new revenue streams from the provision of digital services – as Rolls-Royce has done through its Engine Health Management service, which uses onboard sensors and live satellite feeds to track the health of thousands of engines operating worldwide.
Once again, we should not be surprised. When did anyone cut their way to prosperity? On the other hand, I’d have expected the efficiency people to show more gains than they did. Wonder what their overall programs were?
The research evaluates manufacturers’ digital capabilities across the following core dimensions, using their relative progress in each to provide an overall score out of 100.
• Data intensity: data strategy, data collection, storage and analysis, and data-driven decision-making.
• Connectivity: sensor usage in production and output, and networking of production equipment and plants.
• Adaptability: customization capability, design and modeling, and robotics.
• Integration: enterprise and supply-chain data integration.
• Security: strategy and systems implementation.
• People: leadership, skills and training.
Does implementing a strategy show results, or is it more important as to how you implement a strategy? Research reveals that increased adoption rates do not necessarily translate into better results. Rather, the most successful manufacturers are those which take a bold and strategic approach to deploying the digital technologies they do invest in, and use this to predict trends and identify new opportunities to delight customers.
Here is a finding that is surprising—while 69% of the Revenue Re-inventers use predictive analytics, only 44% of the Efficiency Experts do. I’d figure that predictive analytics for such things as predictive maintenance would be enticing for the efficiency people.
Another finding that seems a little weird—the study sorted out the top five digital technologies. First off, this is definitely a Power Law curve, and secondly these don’t seem to fit together.
Cloud computing is almost universally adopted, a fact which should be no longer surprising. Drop some and then you have connected sensors—but we’ve been connecting sensors for years. Then a considerable drop off to 3D printing. The last is advanced data analytics—the one of all of these that seems to get the most media coverage.
This entire area has received at least four years of intense media coverage. Analyst firms have begun reformatting practices to specifically call out these strategies. Are we beyond the hype curve, yet? Or is it still in the smoke and mirrors stage?
The afternoon stream I moderated at the Industry of Things World conference focused on connected vehicles—Construction Equipment, Trucks, Airplanes. I also interviewed a farm equipment manufacturer about some perhaps surprising uses of data-driven decision making in agriculture.
But first, a thought from another keynote address:
From a NASA study—If you want to employ a creative genius, you’ll have 98% success employing a 3-5 year old; if you hire an adult, you probability of success drops to 2%.
I caught up with Alexander Purdy of John Deere between sessions. He’s not an engineer or IT manager like many of the attendees and speakers (he had a later keynote). He on the business end. How can John Deere grab a competitive advantage and serve customers through connected data? After a career as a consultant, he loves actually doing things.
His group deals in guidance systems and digital solutions. Guidance systems essentially link a GPS to large farm equipment. Not only does this ensure the rows of corn are nice and straight, the digital decision making increases coverage and yield.
Deere’s digital solutions include online JDLink, JDonline, and an ops center. A farmer can sit in her office and plot out planting regimes setting up everything before going into the field. There is even a way to collaborate on methods and local information.
Let’s take seeding for example. Sensors connected back to the system can feedback soil conditions. This helps the planter decide for each seed in a cornfield the optimum x, y, and z (yes, they measure depth of planted seed). The idea is to get each plant to grow at about the same rate.
Connected Construction Equipment
Kjell Jespersen, Caterpillar, spoke on huge construction equipment. Customers have been using the large amount of data generated by construction equipment mainly for improving maintenance. However, they crave better productivity data to manage their business. Developing the systems for gathering and analyzing all the data will become crucial as a competitive advantage—or failure to do so could force a company to exit the business.
Turning to the long-haul trucking business, companies are turning to truck suppliers such as Volvo and Mack Trucks to provide connected vehicle technology to provide data for improved customer support. According to Evandro Silva, Manager Connected Vehicle Services, Volvo Group Trucks North America, a telematics solution was used to develop a connected service that enables quick diagnosis of issues, proactive scheduling for repairs, and confirmation that needed parts are in stock and ready to install—all while the truck is still on the job.
Airplane Digital Twin
Robert Rencher, Senior Systems Engineer and Associate Technical Fellow, The Boeing Company, took the discussion to a new level—literally. From equipment that stays firmly on the ground, Rencher discussed the role of a “digital twin” throughout the lifecycle of an aircraft. A digital twin is defined within a system representing the characteristics of the object and the virtual environment in which the digital representation of objects and their physical equivalent, vice versa, are represented digitally and co-exist such that the object’s past, current, and future capabilities and can be assessed and evaluated in real-time. As an object progresses through each phase of its lifecycle, various systems interface with the digital twin.
Look for information about next year’s conference and all the other conferences. Next year will be about the same time of year in San Diego. Details are still being worked out. Check out twitter conversations at #IoTClan