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Connected data ecosystems are unlocking business growth

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Cloud data ecosystems are the way forward for both industrial enterprises and the technology providers that support them, says Rónán de Hooge, Executive Vice President, Cloud Platform Business at AVEVA.

An industrial environment where machines anticipate their own maintenance needs, supply chains innovate in response to real-time demand and resource shifts, and industries operate with unparalleled efficiency and minimal waste – all orchestrated by human experts?
That vision is fast becoming a reality as industries organise in response to the evolving business landscape. Disrupted supply chains, resource scarcity, changing customer needs and increasing regulation are all now commonplace in our integrated, digital-first economy.

Success in this challenging environment depends on collaboration. When suppliers, distributors and other chain partners share business information, insights and best practices, they can create combined value that exceeds what each can achieve individually. Businesses aren’t just connected to each other – they’re interdependent.

In industry and elsewhere, the future of business increasingly relies on a connected data ecosystem.

Data ecosystems represent the next wave of digital transformation. They leverage a trusted network of technologies to connect people with data from industrial operators and their partners.

With industrial data ecosystems, companies gain access to new capabilities or expertise they may not have in-house. More importantly, a unified view across the value chain, enables companies to discover crucial new insights and leverage broader expertise that enhance their abilities amid a changing business environment.

When this industrial intelligence is unified and shared in the cloud, every value chain participant – including partners, regulators and customers – can visualise routes to better efficiency, productivity and sustainability.

Data is the bedrock of growth for the industrial enterprise

Businesses everywhere are now using connected data ecosystems with customers, suppliers, partners and operators. Such integrated networks may even straddle two or more formerly separate sectors. In all cases, they carry value for each player within the ecosystem, including for technology developers.

At the core of this collaboration is data. Industrial organisations now collect data in greater quantities and from a wider variety of sources than ever before. Too often, however, this strategic asset remains siloed at the point of collection because of technology, security and governance barriers, rendering it inaccessible to even internal departments.

Sharing data across an organisation – as well as with external partners – gives every player within the ecosystem a contextual understanding of how to optimise their role in the value chain.

Industrial organisations are therefore catalysing digital transformation to create seamless collaboration across the lifecycle and unlock greater value and sustainability gains for all stakeholders.

Around the world, many players are already leveraging these platform services to drive positive outcomes on several fronts:

  • Drive efficiency through collaboration: Sharing data from a single source of truth empowers experts – regardless of location or technical background – to make better decisions faster.
  • Achieve environmental, social and governance (ESG) targets: Viewing unified value chain data in context helps surface the interdependent areas where sustainability action can have the greatest impact, such as greater circularity, improved efficiency, reduced emissions and better regulatory compliance.
  • Enhance individual and joint innovation: The competitive advantages gained from secure data-sharing communities strengthen trusted supplier and partner relationships. By adding context to real-time data, companies can expedite R&D, innovate together and mutually enhance competitive advantages.
  • Improve decision-making: Seamlessly connecting diverse data sources and extensible applications within an ecosystem gives businesses richer and more complete insights that can reduce operational costs and improve revenue outcomes.
  • Transform business for faster revenue: An industrial data ecosystem delivers value within hours instead of days or weeks. Accordingly, companies can achieve faster adoption, expand their market reach, and leverage economies of scale – all while reducing costs through lower software investments upfront and lower ongoing IT and maintenance expenses.

How ecosystem building works for technology companies

As industries begin strategising for the outcomes enumerated above, data ecosystems are helping them meet their needs.

This kind of ecosystem thinking also supports innovation for technology providers and developer partners.

Such digital platforms bring together a multitude of complementary solutions and applications that can be tailored to specific business needs. At their core, such an industry data community is a network of interconnected software applications, services, and platforms that integrate seamlessly to enhance process efficiencies while uncovering new value for end customers.

With an open and neutral platform, partners can expedite the development of emerging technologies and services, driving agility and value for customers. The ability to securely share specific data streams within a standardised format and with granular control supports the development of new applications and value-added services – without compromising intellectual property.

This adaptability is a game-changer at a time of increasing cross-domain innovation, when developments in one field, such as artificial intelligence, can support progress in another area. Connected data ecosystems provide the advantages developers need in an ever-evolving industrial landscape.

Industry appetite and the flywheel effect

Different industrial sectors have either already added to, or are accelerating, their investment in connected data ecosystems. The vast majority (90%) of respondents in IDC’s 2023 Future of Industry Ecosystems global survey said they plan to maintain or accelerate their investment into such data ecosystems this year and next. Principal motivations included increasing business agility, better process automation, improved systems integration, and increased data-sharing with partners, including for ESG reasons.

The survey interviewed 1,288 C-suite and business line executives and decision makers across energy, construction, process manufacturing, government and other industries around the world. Overall, the appeal of the connected data ecosystem could lie in its ability to accelerate the flywheel effect, a concept familiar to engineers. With the flywheel effect, small wins accumulate over time to create a momentum that keeps the business growing.

Likewise, within the kind of integrated data community described here, every player can expect to be able to recalibrate for resilience in real-time, driving incremental gains for all stakeholders on a continuous basis. Whether for industrial enterprises, technology companies or developers, the whole truly then becomes worth more than the sum of its parts.

The value of connected data ecosystems – and the potential exponential growth they promise – will be the foundation of our sustainable future.

Picture of Rónán de Hooge
Rónán de Hooge
Executive Vice President, Cloud Platform Business at AVEVA

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