Business transformation: Products transform into services, services enable the outcome economy

Bob Emmerson, freelance writer and IoT industry observer

The outcome economy is based on the outcomes, the results of products or services that are marketed to customers, rather than that of their face value. It represents a significant shift from competing through selling products and services, to competing on the delivery of measurable results that are important to the customer.

The Industrial IoT (IIoT) is driving this trend which, as technology writer Bob Emmerson says, is redefining industry boundaries and creating a wave of unprecedented innovation.

The new outcome economy represents a significant challenge. Providers will require a deeper understanding of customer needs and the contexts in which products and services will be used. Value based on output also entails quantifying results in real time. These requirements used to be hard to realise, but advances in digital technologies and the development of a robust architecture that unlocks the power of the IIoT have made the outcome economy both possible and viable.

To truly embrace business transformation, organisations need to collect actionable data from their assets, processes, and products and then connect the OT domain where data are generated to the IT domain where data are consumed.

Enabling seamless connectivity between these diverse domains is realised by an integration platform, normally located in the cloud, which acts as an operating system for the IoT infrastructure. The OT benefits that come from IT integration include predictive maintenance and remote asset monitoring and management. The IT benefits that come from OT integration include an increase in customer retention and the creation of new business models.

In addition to connecting data producers (sensors and actuators) with data consumers (business applications), the integration platform must enable point to multi-point communications, i.e. OT devices should be able to communicate with all relevant IT apps. Eurotech’s Everyware Cloud platform provides this “Gearbox for the IoT” facility.

At the end of the day it’s a simple concept. Devices generate data that is transformed into information and analysed in a central facility. Bidirectional communications with business processes like CRM and ERP complete the picture. Schematic courtesy Red Hat

A robust, open-source architecture

Devices in the field connect to an intelligent, multi-service IoT gateway that employs Kura, an open-source middleware for multi-service gateways and smart devices. Kura provides a platform that operates at the boundary between the private device network and the Internet or cellular network. A key function is the ability to run applications that can harvest locally gathered information and deliver it to the cloud. In addition Kura enables real-time data analytics to be performed at the network edge.

Kapua is another open-source software product. When combined with Kura it provides IoT developers and end users with an open platform for end-to-end IoT deployments. As shown here, it can be used as a cloud platform, remote maintenance being a key service, or as an on-site platform, data analytics being the key service.

Eurotech’s IoT’s architecture builds on industry standards like Kura and Kapua, which are Open Source Eclipse IoT projects to which the company contributes. This combination enables robust connectivity from smart connected devices in the field through to business applications running in enterprise environments.

An enabling platform

The combination of an enabling IoT integration platform and an OSGi based application framework allows companies to focus on their core competencies and provide higher value to their customers through services, improved efficiency, and reduced costs, i.e. start delivering the outcome economy paradigm.

However, this will be a disruptive process. Disruption will come from new value that results from the massive amount of data generated by connected products, and the increased ability to make automated decisions and take actions in real time.

Roberto Siagri CEO at Eurotech

Disruption will also result in four key business opportunities. One, improved operational efficiency through predictive maintenance and remote management. Two, the emergence of an outcome economy, fuelled by software-driven services, innovations in hardware, and the increased visibility into products, processes, customers and partners.

Three, new connected ecosystems, coalescing around software platforms that blur traditional industry boundaries. And four, collaboration between humans and machines, which will result in unprecedented levels of productivity and more engaging work experiences.

Roberto Siagri, Eurotech’s CEO: “From a B2B IoT perspective, the industry is moving towards a collaborative, ecosystem approach to ensure successful IoT implementations. There is no simple one size fits all answer. Projects on the operational technology side tend to be complex and diverse in nature.

To allow ecosystem partners to work together seamlessly requires a high level of interoperability between the individual elements and building blocks they provide. This is best achieved when there is a common IoT architecture or blueprint. This is why we believe and invest in open source projects such as those that are driven by the Eclipse IoT Working Group.”

The author of this article is freelance IoT and communications writer and observer, Bob Emmerson

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow OR @jcIoTnow

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