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Platforms, Present and Future XIV

The steps in the shift from products to Outcome economy. Image credit: Accenture – Industry Big Event, Milan 2019

Platforms as enabler of business (and services) III

OK, so after having discussed the evolution of API let’s go back to the use of platforms as enabler of the shift from products to services (and ecosystems).

The evolution of products is first towards flanking them with add-on services (see graphic by Accenture), then to sell Products as a Service -PaaS, that however also stands for Platform as a Service!-  (like Michelin Effitires, Effifuel, Effitrailer offer converting the sales of tyres into the sale of services or Rolls Royce and GE offering turbines power by the hour) to reach the point of getting a fee in returns from revenues generated by the client using a product (outcome economy). Whilst the intermediate steps are generating recurrent revenues the latter is leveraging data (IoT data monetisation) and is often leading to a provider/client partnership enabled by IoT.

Of course, this is easier said than done. According to Accenture some 60% of European manufacturing companies are considering the shift but just a few, so far, have actually managed the transition from Proof of Concept -POC- to actual large scale implementation.

Another example of platforms supporting the shift towards manufacturing services is the one of Siemens Additive Manufacturing Network -AMN- designed to support the aggregation of ecosystems. Siemens is providing PLM -Product Lifecycle Management Software- as part of the platform and this can work on federated data allowing effective cooperation among different companies, each one using CAD for the design of various components and including warehouse management and IoT data aggregation. Elesa, as an example, is a manufacturer of plastic components and has to manage an inventory of 20 million parts (since everything is custom made). They are using Siemens AMN to produce and collaborate with their partners and with their clients.

Another interesting characteristic of the Siemens platform is the management of Digital Twins. As products are manufactured Digital Twins are created and these contain the start of the Digital Thread. The platform will seamlessly aggregate data from the Digital Shadow and support the use of the Digital Twin to deliver services (like predictive maintenance). The Digital Twins may -in the future- become active components in the exploration of data lakes produced by IoTs in a given ambient, something that is particularly important in manufacturing plants as well as in the management of clients of specific products/services since this can create knowledge across the usage pool that can feedback into manufacturing and new releases / new products (Industry 4.0).

Actually, what for the Western Countries is Industry 4.0, standing for a new economic model made possible by IoT, data, AI and advanced infrastructures (5G, Edge clouds and Digital Twins), for Japan this is Society 5.0 to underly the deep implication that this evolution is bound to have on the Society and the fact that the evolution should start from the Society.

(Notice how this approach could be mirrored in other sectors and industries, including, in my mind, the IEEE document (articles) processing, where any article being peer-reviewed could generate a knowledge digital twin embedding the reviews as a thread and supporting knowledge management applications. And, of course, IEEE could start this “revolutionary” approach from the perspective of those, members or not, accessing its knowledge services.)

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.