By leveraging pure-play industrial SaaS, companies are primed for business optimization and speed to market, writes Tim Sowell, portfolio architect and strategist, AVEVA
Digital transformation isn’t easy, and doesn’t happen overnight, but every day it’s a more vital business necessity. The rapid convergence of IT, OT, and IIoT is creating a new connected landscape, improving work processes, and increasing business agility.
But while digital transformation has been on the agenda for many years, in 2020 it went from a five or ten- year initiative to an overnight imperative.
To remain competitive in today’s fast-changing markets, companies need to first digitize manual processes with electronic data capture, then digitalize more holistically – take that captured data, turn it into useful information, then share it across the enterprise.
This digital transformation not only minimizes wasted work and increases resiliency, but also, by placing the customer at the heart of the business, enables new value creation and growth opportunities.
The problem with digital transformation
But there is a reason, of course, that every business hasn’t accomplished its digital transformation already: it’s easier said than done. IT research firm Gartner reports that digital transformation takes twice as long and costs twice as much as most companies anticipate, according to Gartner. Around 70% of digital transformation projects either stall or fall short of their objectives.
One reason for this, particularly in the industrial landscape, is that businesses often don’t fully understand the objectives of their transformation. When you don’t have a clear understanding of your short and long-term goals, it is difficult to see how you can use your existing systems – data historians, DCS, SCADA, and so forth – to reach them.
What’s more, many companies struggling to transform don’t take advantage of industrial enrichment services that utilize the latest advances in AI and machine learning. Instead, they opt to add a myriad of services on top of completely independent cloud platforms built from scratch using Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions. This is a time-consuming process to begin and a headache to maintain and scale.
A more successful approach is to build on the past by relying on ready- to-go industrial Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions in a single, digital transformation hub.
Take BP, for example. The British energy giant enlisted AVEVA to revolutionize its oil and gas downstream business. By leveraging full suite cloud industrial SaaS solutions, BP improved its margins across its entire global business and cut crude purchase decision time from two days to less than two hours. What’s more, the company reduced its IT cost of ownership and increased agility by taking advantage of cloud-enabled workflows.
Single, connected industrial landscape
The aim of digital transformation is to accelerate technological convergence and create a single, connected landscape – from edge to cloud, enterprise- wide. This data-driven connectivity gives workers and systems the clear, contextualized information they need to make more responsive decisions and achieve more predictable outcomes.
Not only does a connected industrial landscape enable companies to share contextualized information, but it also provides the ability to share data with trusted vendors, suppliers, and customers to create a connected community.
In turn, this connected community can now combine its collective domain expertise to produce a more agile, collaborative ecosystem, lending the flexibility and responsiveness required to pivot quickly and take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
Speed to value
Perhaps the biggest challenge standing in the way of digital transformation is speed: speed to implementation, speed to adoption, and speed to value.
By leveraging dedicated industrial SaaS solutions, it’s possible to optimize engineering, operations, and performance through seamless collaboration in a single cloud hub. This means that in addition to all the usual PaaS deliverables, such as network, storage, servers, operating systems, and runtime, industrial SaaS is also responsible for industrial data integration and integrity, data capture, data storage, industrial model apps and information access.
By engaging industrial SaaS solutions, it’s possible to achieve configure-versus-programming simplicity so that optimum results can be achieved quickly.
Making sense of industrial data
Dedicated industrial SaaS solutions allow you to merge time-series data with transactional, sequential data from documents and create a richer context and understanding of your asset information.
Layering data with industrial artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics allows you to turn your data into information. Whether your goal is asset performance, process analysis, or value chain optimization, dedicated sector-specific SaaS can help industrial firms realize their operational objectives – quickly.
Engineering, modelling and simulation
Businesses can also empower teams and cut the time, cost, and risk of capital project engineering by integrating process design, simulation, engineering, procurement, construction, and handover processes.
Industrial SaaS helps ensure projects are delivered on time, and plants can start up faster and safer. By leveraging new technologies it’s possible to break down the silos between process, mechanical, and other engineering disciplines to enable seamless collaboration of global teams.
Access to cloud-based information means speed and certainty. Businesses get fast, predictable ROI with rapid implementation. The configure- not-build approach means there is limited dependency on IT, so organizations can implement solutions quickly—in days rather than weeks or months.
In this way, systems will automatically evolve with ongoing, seamless development, making lengthy migrations and updates things of the past.
What’s more, the pay-as-you-consume subscription approach delivers predictability by becoming an operational expenditure (OpEx) rather than a capital expenditure (CapEx), reducing upfront costs and providing the freedom to allocate investment according to the needs of the moment.
Digital transformation: The opportunity
A successful digital transformation is not just about going to the cloud, it’s about going to the cloud in a hybrid architecture that fits with existing systems – the operational landscape and corporate IT environment.
With the support of proven technologies and expertise, organizations can achieve transformational outcomes, seize every opportunity, and ultimately change the way they think and work – today and into the future.