Thursday, 12 March 2015

Watch Out for the Industrial App Economy as the Battle for the Industrial Internet Heats Up

About six months ago I wrote a blog entitled "GE, The Industrial Internet and the Battle to Come" - in which I asked the question "will GE be the equivalent of Apple, Facebook and Google for the industrial internet or will someone else seize this market?". Its clear the battle for the industrial interne is heating up.

Last week (on 5th March) Caterpillar announced it was extending its partnership with Uptake, a Chicago based predictive analytics company. Uptake have been developing predictive diagnostic and fleet optimisation solutions for Caterpillar's the locomotive business. Under the new agreement Caterpillar and Uptake will "develop an end-to-end platform for predictive diagnostics to help Caterpillar customers monitor and optimise their fleets more effectively". Notably the new technology will be available for both Cat and non-Cat products.

Today (12th March) Siemens announced it was creating an open cloud platform for industrial customers based on the SAP HANA cloud platform. Siemens will offer Apps for predictive maintenance, asset and data energy management. They are also opening their platform so other Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) or indeed Apps developers can create their own applications to exploit the open infrastructure for data analytics.

Separately I've had conversations with half a dozen different firms, from a variety of sectors, in the last couple of weeks all of which have centered around the idea of an Industrial App Economy. It seems that there's a groundswell of opinion that the future for industrial services lies in open, cloud based platforms, where developers can offer Apps to make the end users service and support experience as seamless as possible.

There's an interesting question with all of these developments - namely how will the investments be monitisied? Is it through sale of the Apps? Provision of the insights that can be derived from the data? Or sales of new products and support services - as customers are tied in to particular OEMs? It'll be interesting to see how this battle evolves as other potential competitors for the industrial internet declare their hands.

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