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Heavy-asset companies race towards a future-ready data and digital platform

by Petteri Vainikka

Heavy-asset companies that hope to compete effectively can no longer remain on older platforms, as the industrial software marketplace undergoes swift transformation.

Recent events have accelerated the trend

Modern cloud-based application development was already growing in importance, but the disruptive events of 2020 have only sped up this process. Modern digital platforms are more crucial than ever in a post-Covid-19 world, where a number of pressures are acting to widen the gap between digital innovators and laggards.

Diagram showing pressure from Covid-19 widening gap between digital innovators and laggards

There is a growing need for remotely monitoring and controlling equipment and processes, as well as for digital twins, data visualization, and physics-AI hybrid analytics. Key personnel are likely to be working remotely more often, and the dynamic of the more dispersed workforce demands innovative and effective digital solutions.

Applications lead, platforms then follow

According to leading industry research and advisory firm ARC Advisory Group, the outcome-based application — or production-grade use case implementation — appears to be the most captivating starting point for what is a very ROI-focused market. It should therefore come as no surprise that most solution providers are leading with a portfolio of configurable reference applications as a way to help their customers achieve fast return on investment in a predictable, rapid, and safe way.

If the application — or focused set of use cases — is the understandable starting point, platforms are the next logical step. As customers experience clear measurable ROI from initial use cases, progressive users show a strong preference for extending application value and building their own as they become more digitally comfortable.

To the ‘lighthouses’

McKinsey & Co identified 16 manufacturing companies as ‘advanced manufacturing lighthouses’ — shining beacons of innovation that are leading the way when it comes to delivering high operational excellence. What do these companies have in common?

They have all managed to scale digital use cases beyond the pilot stage, building platforms using modern technology concepts, data-centricity, and internal APIs. Most importantly, they are successfully extracting their data, contextualizing it, and aligning it with business capabilities.

The preferred platform is a hybrid platform

According to Gartner, an off-the-shelf data and digital platform is a pipe dream for enterprise level oil & gas and other heavy-asset companies. There simply is no shortcut to building the data and digital platform that truly meets the needs and situation of a large complex heavy-asset industry organization.

Gartner on digital platforms: "Digital platforms cannot be purchased. Rather, each company must invest in designing and building an appropriate platform that aligns with their business situation." - Gartner

For CIOs, that means the challenge is in bringing together and maintaining all the necessary components and capabilities to deliver the company’s digital business vision. This will be a continuous and dynamic task, as needs evolve, commercially available vendor solutions start offering proven off-the-shelf interoperable components, and generic cloud technology alike improves. Commitment to openness is the most important core principle that should guide platform design and architecture every step of the way.

Transition to a true data and digital platform is about executive strategy

Senior management plays a crucial role in enabling and empowering a successful transition to a future-proof new data and digital platform. They must be engaged and involved in the process throughout. Leaders with strong change leadership capabilities are essential, and these skills must be invested in.

Existing IT infrastructure must also be considered, but not allowed to deter from architecting for the omni-connected digital era, not for the past. Build a clear roadmap detailing how you will ensure direct access to low-level functionality in key vendor systems, as a way to get your legacy IT environment ready for a transition to future-proof data and digital platform.

“By the end of 2024, 75% of enterprises will shift from piloting to operationalizing AI, driving a 5x increase in streaming data and analytics infrastructures… Through 2022, manual data management tasks will be reduced by 45% through the addition of machine learning and automated service-level management.” - Gartner

Build your future-ready data and digital platform with Cognite Data Fusion

Cognite Data Fusion ‘enables heavy asset customers to operationalize and scale their digital programs to unlock ROI at scale’ (Gartner Cool Vendors in Manufacturing 2020 report available complimentary here).

Digital transformation leaders across industries are choosing Cognite Data Fusion for its open architecture, specialization in OT/IT data contextualization, unstructured data handling, and industrial equipment and process data templatization capabilities, to provide data fabric services across their master data stores.

Cognite Data Fusion offers a modular services portfolio and pricing model, allowing clients to enhance functionality and scale the solution step by step, addressing each client's specific needs and digital maturity level.

Cognite data fusion, benefits: scalable techology, modern and future-proof, enabling the digital organization, data-centric approach and delivering for oil & gas

a data-centric approach

A data-centric approach

Contextualization of a variety of industrial OT & IT data sources is important, but it is not enough to achieve a data-driven company. Automating contextualization, data discovery, and management, model deployment, and quality assurance are key. Cognite Data Fusion is built to fulfill the requirements of critical industrial operations, providing transparency and governance across data lineage, data quality monitoring, alerting, data management and access.

enabling a digital organization

Enabling the digital organization

Data-driven organizations are not achieved by few niche ML/AI applications. Efforts need to be enabled at scale — across expertise, across assets, and across domains.

Cognite Data Fusion enables operationalization of data-driven solutions by analysts, engineers, and professional data scientists with open SDKs, APIs, and connectors for standard tools and frameworks such as Python, Power BI, and OutSystems. It also gives full transparency and management for both the data and contextualization pipelines for true enterprise-grade data governance.

scalable technology

Scalable technology

Cognite’s technology is built to robustly and securely provide production-ready contextualized data at scale for the world’s biggest companies.

modern and future proof

Modern and future-proof

Cognite is new and built on modern, future-proof principles. The lack of legacy software and solutions enables us to innovate rapidly, unhindered by existing business models or codebases. This forward-thinking outlook has attracted some of the biggest names in the industry, as well as recognition from leading analysts such as Gartner.

delivering for oil and gas

Delivering for Oil & Gas

From subsurface drilling to wells and production, Cognite Data Fusion provides data contextualization across the O&G value chain. In 2020, we are continuing to expand our core technology into downstream and projects. Our cross-domain data contextualization enables new optimizations, workflows, and significant waste reduction, both from a process and a resource perspective.

How does Cognite make a difference? Read this study by market research firm Verdantix on how Aker BP lowers operating costs and increases productivity with its digital transformation initiatives

verdantix report


Petteri VainikkaPETTERI VAINIKKA, VICE PRESIDENT OF PRODUCT MARKETING: Petteri’s professional career spans across enterprise SaaS technologies, where he has found himself at the intersection of emerging transformational technology development and its commercial applications for customers. Prior to Cognite, Petteri worked in senior product management, marketing, sales, and general management positions for companies such as at Sumea, Rovio, and Cxense. Petteri has a master’s degree in technology from Aalto University in Helsinki.