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.

Manufacturing Software Beyond HMI/SCADA

Manufacturing Software Beyond HMI/SCADA

A manufacturing software supplier must go beyond where they are to keep pace with today’s needs. GE Digital just announced such an extension–to offer decision support capabilities. The new GE HMI/SCADA software offers “comprehensive and best-in-class monitoring and visualization capabilities,” as well as work process management, analytics, and mobility. Based on ISA high performance design principles, this solution enables companies to troubleshoot faster, reduce waste and increase productivity.

“Most SCADA systems are still configured as HMIs – simply a display to indicate status,” said Matthew Wells, General Manager Automation Software for GE Digital. “In developing this new generation solution, we have combined industry standards, GE research and Industrial Internet technologies to exceed traditional HMI/SCADA, increasing operational efficiency and delivering on business outcomes.”

Context-driven navigation and situational awareness

The new GE software features a context-rich HMI that changes as the user moves through the system. Navigation is derived from a structured asset model. Using the model, the software always can provide operators with the most relevant information – in context – and minimize time to response. Additionally, the structured asset model mapped to the SCADA database significantly speeds configuration. Modern technologies such as HTML5 and Web HMI allow for centralized development and deployment, as well as accessibility anywhere in multiple form factors.

“With high performance HMI/SCADA, operators are able to quickly determine an abnormal situation and get to the root causes of many issues,” said Sergio Chavez, Automation Engineer with Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power. “We help operators visualize a process and make alarms very visible. We’re shaving the time it takes for operators to act on a situation.”

To help engineers create the right user experience, GE also provides predefined smart objects and templates designed using efficient HMI concepts. Standard layouts and cards – such as trends, alarms, alarm summaries, and KPIs – are available out of the box, speeding configuration and improving user situational awareness.

Task management and mobility

Additionally, GE’s fourth generation HMI/SCADA portfolio has task management capabilities, triggering the right actions, at the right time, by the right person, in the right place based on alarms or other events. GE’s new Workflow 2.5 and Mobile 2.0 solutions extend the capabilities of Decision Support HMI/SCADA further, helping companies achieve their critical business outcomes with integrated workflows and intelligent alarming, available anytime and anywhere.

“Operator effectiveness allows operators the opportunity to grow professionally,” according to Bill Fritz, Director of Public Works, Waterford Township, Michigan. “They can reinvent themselves and gain new value-added skills. They can take on new roles.”

GE’s Wells explained, “Use technology to improve the operator experience and manage operations for greater efficiency. With just a quick look, operators today should be able to recognize which information requires their attention and what it indicates – which speeds response and drives to business outcomes.”

Manufacturing Software Beyond HMI/SCADA

Enterprise-Class Tablets for Enterprise Asset Intelligence

I have written before about how Zebra Technologies Corporation has grown into an IoT supplier through some strategic acquisitions. An integral part of the overall IoT ecosystem is asset intelligence application.

The company has introduced its next-generation ET50 and ET55 tablet computers, which combine the consumer styling with the enterprise-class features necessary to increase workforce productivity. With a choice of the Microsoft Windows 8.1 or Android 5.1 (Lollipop) operating system (OS) and two different display sizes, businesses can choose the modern enterprise-grade tablet that best meets their application needs and technology strategy. This brings enterprise asset intelligence to the mobile worker.


  • Operating Flexibility to Empower Business Applications: The ET50/55 is the first Zebra tablet computer available with the Microsoft Windows 8.1 OS and is Windows 10-ready. Windows gives access to legacy ERP systems and commonality to desktop solutions. The Android version of the ET50/55 tablet computer comes standard with Zebra’s Mobility Extensions (Mx) providing enterprise-class security; device management and data capture capabilities. The Android tablets are also equipped with Zebra’s AppGallery – an Android enterprise app store providing ready-to-use apps.
  • A Business Tool with an Enterprise-Class Accessory Ecosystem: Tablets need the right accessories to make them enterprise-grade productivity tools. New vehicle mount cradles are ideal for service technicians; delivery drivers and salespeople on the road while a forklift mount can handle most warehouse environments. Advanced scanning capabilities are available that can accurately and rapidly capture photos, NFC tags, bar codes in virtually any condition and on practically any surface.   Hot-swappable batteries augment the built-in battery and deliver 24 x 7 power to field service, transportation and logistics, retail, warehouse, manufacturing and government employees.
  • Features Designed for Enterprise Mobile Workforces: The ET50 features Wi-Fi connectivity while the ET55 adds 4G LTE cellular connectivity, and both models offer an advanced capacitive touch display that enables gloved or ungloved usage and the ability to use a stylus or a finger for annotating and capturing signatures. All configurations are designed to MIL-STD specification for drops to concrete and have IP65 sealing.
  • Enterprise-Class Services: Zebra OneCare Essential Services provide device diagnostics and coverage for normal wear and tear as well as accidental damage to internal and external components, significantly reducing unforeseen repair expenses.


Maintenance Tool Builds on Mobility for Workforce

Maintenance Tool Builds on Mobility for Workforce

WM VIP ServicesI’ve just been talking about startups, and here is news from a startup within an established engineering company. Wunderlich-Malec Engineering Inc. (WM) is an engineering services company that had built a handy little maintenance tool for itself and some clients.

A new business development director entered the company and asked why didn’t they turn it into a product and sell it. After some further development work, WM VIP Services was created. VIP stands for Virtual Information Portal.

This mobile app for iPad and Microsoft tablets has been designed to improve efficiency and increase productivity by serving information to a maintenance technician, engineer, or manager who might happen to be out in the plant and need some contextual information served quickly.

“For over 33 years, WM’s success has been built around our strong customer commitment. VIP Services® solidifies this commitment by helping our customers reduce unscheduled downtime and increase productivity.” says Neal Wunderlich, President WM.

Here are some features gleaned from the press release.

Reducing Downtime – Time is often lost when technicians leave the work area to find resources, such as schematics, procedures or other data to complete a task.

VIP Services – Links all equipment to all its relevant data and information resources. It provides specific and accurate information for the technician at the equipment where needed information is time critical.

Improving Communication for Quicker Decision Making – Communications about production downtime issues and their resolution using traditional channels (email or phone) is often unclear or delayed until the correct resource can come onsite and ‘see’ the issue in real time.

VIP Services – Shows the problem, complete with all relevant process data and resources to the subject matter expert who can support the local technician with better communications for quicker problem resolution.

“We are very excited about our VIP Services Initiative. We feel that our new mobile application will greatly aide our customers in their pursuit to save time and money.” says Joel Gil, Director of Business Development, VIP Services Business Unit, WM.

Wunderlich-Malec has created a new VIP Services business unit headquartered in Houston, Texas. Our VIP Services Core Team will deliver complete turnkey VIP Services® Solutions.

The system works by printing and applying a “Point of Interest” QR code label at a POI—machine or unit or device. The services team can help accumulate all the relevant drawings and documentation about that POI and serve it up when the technician scans the QR code with the tablet camera.

Pretty elegant solution for not a lot of integration expense.

Digital Transformation and Industrial Internet of Things

Digital Transformation and Industrial Internet of Things

VimalK_Blue BGHere is the official wrap of the recent Honeywell Users Group (HUG) Americas symposium. It was the 40th anniversary celebrated with the theme “40 Years of Innovation.” Officially “more than 1,200 people” attended the event.

I have written a couple of times during the week here and here. This information comes from a press release issued last week. Along with some executive quotes is a note that Honeywell Process Solutions has been developing and implementing technologies for the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) for many years.

During the event, Honeywell announced a collaboration with Intel Security McAfee which will expand its industrial cyber security capabilities to help defend customers from the increasing threat of cyber attacks.

“The process manufacturing industries are facing a critical time in history due to a convergence of factors such as security threats, a shrinking workforce and lower oil prices, among others,” said Vimal Kapur, president of Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS). “These factors are driving a greater need for our technologies and services because they’re designed to help companies conduct operations more efficiently, and with less risk.”

The conference revolved around three core technology themes directly impacting companies’ abilities to successfully adapt to changing market conditions: digital transformation and smart operations, system evolution and risk reduction, and smart instrumentation with smart integration. Throughout the week, Honeywell executives, technology experts and customers explained how these core areas can turn technology buzzwords like Big Data and Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) into practical applications.

“HPS has been leveraging the concepts and technologies behind the Industrial IoT as part of the vision that we have been evolving towards for several years,” Bruce Calder, HPS chief technology officer told general session attendees. “In order to run a reliable operation that continues to improve performance and business results, you will need to install smarter field devices, achieve more connectivity, collect more data and find ways to use that data to run a smarter operation.”

Calder also gave attendees a first look at HPS’ first native app for mobile devices and tablets that connects to different sources and applications across the company’s portfolio to create a more-intuitive mobile experience for plant workers. Mobility is part of the initiative to introduce a suite of apps that, along with new cloud functionalities, will enhance existing solutions to deliver better business efficiencies.

The conference agenda included a wide range of presentations from Honeywell customers ExxonMobil, Chevron, Reliance, DuPont, Great River Energy, Syngenta, Genentech, Valero and others. These presentations – covering everything from wireless applications and cost-effective control system migrations, to alarm management and energy conservation – highlighted how real-world manufacturers have used Honeywell technology to streamline their businesses by generating and analyzing the most-meaningful data from their operations.

In addition to these presentations, attendees received a first-hand look at some of Honeywell’s newest technologies designed to change the way their enterprises work, generate the right data to inform decisions, and reduce overall risks. Highlighted technologies included:

  • UniSim Competency Suite – the newest addition to the UniSim family of training technology, which now includes 3D virtual environment capabilities to provide realistic experiences.
  • DynAMo Alarm and Operations Suite – software that leverages more than 20 years of alarm management experience in the process industries to help users reduce overall alarm count by as much as 80 percent, identify maintenance issues and increase visibility of critical alarms that require urgent attention.
  • Honeywell Industrial Cyber Security Risk Manager – the first digital dashboard designed to proactively monitor, measure and manage cyber security risk for process control systems.
  • SmartLine Level Transmitter – the newest addition to Honeywell’s line of modular, smart field instrumentation designed to integrate with control systems to provide benefits such as extended diagnostics, maintenance status displays, transmitter messaging and more.
  • The EC 350 PTZ Gas Volume Corrector – the first member of a new line of high-performance electronic volume correctors (EVCs) that more accurately measure natural gas delivered to industrial customers, helping them meet government and industrial standards.