OSIsoft Accelerating Digital Transformation

For those of us who enjoy geeking out on industrial data, the OSIsoft User Conference (UC) is our Woodstock (Coachella for you Millennials), not just an event but a happening. UC’s pack hundreds of industrial data use cases into a few days, and are go-to events for engineers and IT professionals from diverse industries (oil and gas, biotech, power generation, data centers, pulp and paper) who come together to share best practices about how to solve hard problems with industrial data.

While the UC has been around since 1991 in the U.S. (each Spring in San Francisco), its EMEA version is only five years old and the recent London UC had an impressive 1,500+ people attend.  Our Element Analytics team is a regular UC participant.  We like to learn what’s new in OSIsoft’s world, how companies are solving problems with their data and how Element can collaborate with them.

Here are our takeaways from the London EMEA UC:

  • Digital Transformation—using technology to radically change the performance or reach of the industrial enterprise—was a hot UC topic as companies work to improve operations, reduce HSE incidents, acquire new revenue streams, and adopt new business models.  This requires a commitment to clearly defining business value, investing in new technology and strong coordination between IT and OT organizations. Transcanada stood out as a company that is on the digital transformation journey.
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  • Enterprise data consolidation is starting to happen in industrials.   For decades operations data has mostly been locked up at individual sites, at one refinery or one factory. This is beginning to change as companies recognize digital transformation requires aggregating data from across the enterprise, from every asset and site. For example: Biotech leader Shire, and their partner TQS Integration, did a solid presentation about their journey to aggregate PI System, MES and other operational data across their enterprise while balancing the needs of the local operations; Shell is pursuing a PI super aggregator strategy to consolidate data and enable analytics.
  • The Cloud was a hot topic this year as both IT and OT leaders are trying to determine how they can utilize the cloud for operational work packages. It was terrific to see OSIsoft announce expanded cloud services offerings. Microsoft (Azure) and ARM (Mbed) both addressed their cloud offerings from the keynote stage and how devices can be securely connected. Striking the right balance between decision making use cases using edge processing versus decision support use cases in the cloud where big compute is available to run machine learning against enterprise data is an open question.   The right edge/cloud ratio is just beginning to be unpacked and will be a topic for industrials for years to come as our industry sorts through control vs. analytics needs, cost, security, latency, data persistence and other issues.
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  • Data Integrity is an Increasing Priority.  A surprising topic of discussion is how hard it is to not only build analytics-ready object models, like PI Asset Frameworks (what we at Element call Operations Digital Twins), but the recognition of how hard it is to maintain these models in the face of constantly evolving physical and digital infrastructure.  Organizations who want to deploy PI AF’s to support analytics and other use cases are realizing that an AF has to be treated as a dynamic model representing the physical world.  You can’t simply “fix and forget” your PI AF’s and expect to be successful.
  • It Takes an Ecosystem to Raise a Digital Transformation.  An important takeaway from this year’s EMEA UC was the explicit and programmatic message OSIsoft delivered about the importance of building out its partner program to help their customers with digital transformation.  As an OSIsoft partner, we’re pleased to see their commitment here, including initiatives like the Marketplace to bring together an ecosystem of solutions to solve hard problems for engineers and operators utilizing the PI System.

Our team much enjoyed our time at the OSIsoft EMEA UC, but it’s time to say goodbye to this old friend and to say hello to OSIsoft PI World, a new and expanded vision for an even broader ecosystem of customers, partners and the industry. See you in April in San Francisco.