This article focuses on the concept of an industrial data marketplace and what such a market place offers.
Industry Cards Reshuffled
Early 2019 a far-reaching collaboration between two tech behemots was communicated. Old-tech giant Volkswagen chose Amazon to digitize its 122 production sites and build Volkwagen’s Industrial Cloud.
The news came as a bombshell for the whole industry. Especially established players like manufacturing companies, information technology hardware and software suppliers and especially MES OEMs will keep an eagle eye on the proceedings. A strongly vertical company like Amazon, which also has the speed of a start-up, is a threat to any established player.
But a few days after the news publishing, another cooperation was made public. Siemens enters the game with its Mindsphere product.
What seems conflictual at the first sight makes one thing clear: On the shopfloor it is all about connectivity. And obviously no one, not even Amazon, enters this domain in passing.
Siemens is very well positioned here and knows many industrial domains for decades. On the other hand the industrial world today is still far away from being standardized or even plug and playable. Features we take for granted in our personal devices, like simply plugging in a new mouse and you’re done, do simply not exist. Machine OEMs and software suppliers built up very closed systems.
A New Way Of Thinking
My opinion here is very clear: This is the past.
In order to progress towards Industrie 4.0 and its value proposition, we need a mindset change: Openness instead of self-containment shall be the credo.
It is clear that this change must not be at the expense of safety nor security. And we need to motivate the players, especially Machine OEMs, to join us on this way. Up to now they make good money with the status quo.
And here is where the Industrial Data Marketplace comes into play.
The Industrial Data Marketplace
First of all let us clarify in a few words what an Industrial Data Marketplace is.
Just like on an ordinary village marketplace, this is where the trade takes place. There are buyers and sellers. However, the Industrial Data Marketplace is somewhat more generic. In normal marketplaces, the roles are clear and do not really change. The butcher sells meat, the farmer potatoes. On the other hand, in the case of the industrial counterpart, a buyer can also be a seller at the same time.
In most cases, trade will revolve around industrial data. The manufacturers sit on a giant mountain of valuable data, that the machine OEM’s would love to have. Based upon this data, new services could be offered to improve the productivity of manufacturers. This is a trading scenario for an Industrial Data Marketplace.
However this straightforward example requires some effort upfront. So, let us have a look at what we expect from the Industrial Data Marketplace.
What An Industrial Data Market Place Must Offer
The first and most important feature of the Industrial Data Market Place is that it creates incentives for machine builders to open up. Consequently, these incentives are closely related to new business models. Most of the business cases will be data driven.
Today, data access to the purchased machines is not granted. The productions are also closed systems and do not allow the machine-builders any insight. Both parties come together on the Industrial Data Marketplace. So the second important feature is something that creates incentives for manufacturers to grant data access.
Most likely the market place will be located in the cloud. Today productions at least in Germany are still very conservative when it comes to cloud computing. Especially for their most valuable data. Nevertheless, the mindset is slowly changing. Above all, small steps that start without the cloud or hybrid cloud approaches point the way. Therefore, our third demanded feature of the Industrial Data Marketplace is platform neutrality.
Last but not least trust and security have to be named as the fourth important feature. These are even basic requirements and thinking of them could easily give you a headache. Especially in a decentralized world.
To get us on our way towards Industrie 4.0, Industrial Data Marketplaces play an important part. The main challenges today circle around the areas connectivity, access and security. The movement towards a marketplace will rather be evolutionary and in small steps. But once the marketplaces exist, there will be little business besides them.
The next concrete steps will address the four basic requirements of the Industrial Data Market Place and it will be very interesting to see which players and platforms emerge.
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