The business environment is significantly active to be more risk-averse, with companies working on joint ventures in order to avoid another big downturn. The aversion towards risk is a social behavior, which will filter into the organizational culture, with businesses looking at how they can run leaner and meaner operations! Will Technology be embraced as the only facilitator?

What drives the world’s business arena is it the human and social fabric or the industrial revolution? This has always been a debatable proposition.  

Let us consider, for argument’s sake that the industrial revolutions of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, brought about by the inventions of light bulb and radio waves have been the transformational milestones of human race. The well-accepted Change has always been around as a constant. This complex interplay of changes in society with the technical transformation was an imperative for all economies; be it automation, logistics, software, retail, sports or medical business. In a simpler sense, these technical innovations replaced human labor with easier mechanical work to move the society into an era looking for reliable technologies. From here,  let us look back to examine if we humans even felt the changes we have been through since the introduction of steam engine, electricity or even newer inventions like semiconductors into a world that has evolved with changes right from the discovery of energy to the very thought of energy efficiency.

The indulgence curve

As I scribble down these thoughts on my laptop, without dipping a single pen in any pot of ink! The noise-free elevators of my building keeps the works intact the motors replaced by the efficient variable frequency dives, the pleasant ambiance inside the elevators with the LED lights and the air conditioning controllers in the room with the smaller and efficient digital controllers. Oh! My smart watch on my wrist reading the health indexes and synchronized to the so-called smart phone reminding me when to move or even drink water. With the cell phone replacing the watch, camera, alarm clock, none of us ever-needed motivation to embrace technology.

When we look at this adaptable society from the business perspective, different threads of sciences taking us through a paradigm shifts, popularly referred to as “Transformation”. Surely, industries, large and small, have a challenge to adapt to as this agility through “RIGHT” technology; the business world looks out for “AVALIABILITY” & “RELIABILITY”. Unlike the past, the challenge here is uniform acceptance or the change of mindsets.  It is undeniable that business and production technologies, historically, have been highly dependent on human skills. There have been obvious reasons for this. When we start digging deeper for reasons, we see visibility and interoperability are some of the key points; industry has always been Data rich but the insights has always been limited. This is a steep learning transformation curve utilizing the giant data accumulated over time in the operation technology world with the depleting human skills into a digital mold to leverage the Data Sciences, matured over the years holding hands of the IT industry.

Is it a real necessity?

The Manufacturing technology motivators or sponsors namely F&B, Pharmaceuticals and Health sciences, Oil & Gas, Power & Utilities, Transportation and Banking have always been adapting this climate change since olden days. However, some noise is inevitable for any industrial revolution. Hence all the controversies around “Digitalization”. Businesses cannot afford to be trapped in these noises. The “must have” and “good to have” considerations lead organizations through a deep learning experience. However, the right moment that transforms learning to indulging reflects the difference between social and business maturity.

Technology sponsors use this moment of Transformation to maintain their edge in the competitive world. How do we make sense of it? Well again, transformation should not be superficial but skin deep; it calls for a deeper integration and change. Transformation is acceptance before grabbing the shopping bag. It is empowering the whole enterprise within to make it capable to embrace this change. Is the Business ready and is it the right time for this Business is what needs to be considered?  While of course the sectors ahead did it faster, is it really necessity as one of the key drivers for the change? For examples Uber, Bitcoin, Amazon are some of the names to look at. Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, has no vehicles, Alibaba, the world’s most valuable retailer, has no inventory. Netflix, the world’s largest movies house, owns no cinemas!

Becoming autonomous

Manufacturing technology or Operations technology has always been an inert and a disconnected environment. This may be due to propriety technologies, skills, ageing, and more of human factors. Operations Technology being one of the oldest and may be the largest contributor to the human race always calls for Maturity with Indulgence. We can therefore easily say that deeper insights need alignment and connectivity of processes. As the insights deepen, business gains more sensitivity and the ability to recover rapidly improves with even the most inconspicuous, unexamined and the slightest spike in an asset. By “asset1” The molecule in the Process infrastructure, here we mean any component which has a role to contribute to the whole business process. With the ever-changing design of business processes, Operations technology has always felt the lack of correlating the multiple dimensions of any operation. The context of Asset relates back to the very thought of data from the smallest elements covering up to the large jigsaw blocks of the organization providing the holistic insight. Operations must detect and autocorrect anomaly and incipient faults

Need is therefore just a part and not the key. Transformation a continuous process, which will involve processes, assets and above all people that weave a connected environment, which takes us towards suitability process and a safer world. It is for the society to embrace transformation rather than to brace the holistic tool kit that IIOT2 brings, designed timely for specific business environment. The blend of niche human skills with specific data sciences fuses collectively to transform into an experienced reliable environment of predictive analysis and vitalization. Transformation with Simulation and Analytics with the human experience gives the crystal ball to look through the future and sustain in an efficient3 and Autonomous way forward.

1 A critical component of any Business Process.
2 IIOT: Industrial Internet of Things
3 Efficient: consuming less and deliver more, reference energy, natural resources

About the author

Saptarshi Bhowmick

Saptarshi Bhowmick is with the Process Control and Solutions industry for the last 20 years. An Electronics and Communication Engineer with a Master in Business Administration, he has worked in various positions for Industrial Technologies solution in India and Middle East. His areas of expertise include Digital Transformation through IIoT, APC and Dynamic Simulation, Asset Management Solutions, Manufacturing Execution System, Cyber Security for Process industry. He works and lives in the Kingdom of Bahrain.