From data to decisions – the re-distribution of roles in manufacturing ecosystems

Data, information, knowledge and analytics, and the use of data in decision-making drive a transformation process not only in the ICT sector but also in global manufacturing companies. Digitalization has a tendency to disrupt “traditional” industrial fields in a crucial and unforeseen way. Machinery and service suppliers must build new capabilities related to having access to the data, analyzing it and particularly in understanding the customer’s business environment for making best use of the data.

Global manufacturing companies are in the middle of a transformation process driven by rapid ICT development. Data, information, knowledge and analytics, and the use of data in decision-making are at the core of this transformation process. Asset owners and operators responsible for the use, maintenance and development of industrial plants make daily operative and strategic decisions and thus can benefit from the information gathered by other actors and a wealth of analytical tools. To answer this need, machinery suppliers have added intelligence to their products. However, so far the adoption of new IoT-based technologies and service concepts has not fully met the high level of expectations.

In a data driven ecosystem, machinery suppliers and asset owners (operators) have different perspectives of machine fleets. Asset owners seek to improve the efficiency of the entire production system, while suppliers mainly provide product-specific services. Such services often have a supplementary role in the customer company´s operations, and therefore the arising associated monetary benefits are hard to define. In short, the supplier companies should focus on (eco)systems instead of discrete products or product fleets. Service providers should develop competences that are crucial for a broader understanding of the processes and goals of the customer’s production system.

Machinery supplier and service companies will have to compete for their roles in the market of data and analytics centric services. Entrants from other sectors – 3rd party players – have also found a growing market for knowledge-based services. For example, Travis Kalanick (CEO of Uber) said “If we can get you a car in five minutes, we can get you anything in five minutes”, meaning that they are prepared to re-distribute the roles in the manufacturing ecosystems by creating new and interesting information and platforms. Digitalization may disrupt “traditional” fields of industry in crucial and unforeseen ways. Machinery suppliers have to choose how they operate in this new changing world. The ones who want to take a greater role in the customer’s ecosystem must be prepared to engage in knowledge and cooperation networks. New knowledge requirements relate to the gathering of information from different sources and to the analysis of information, and in particular to the understanding of the customer’s business environment so that knowledge can be utilized to support customer decision-making.

Service exports in Finland have grown strongly over the past two decades. According to a recent report (Etla, VATT and Aalto), service exports last year accounted for about 36 percent of the total value added of exports. This development also reflects the global trend that companies are moving from a product-oriented business to providing lifecycle services. The collection of data on the equipment fleet from the global market enables the provision of information-intensive services that support the use and maintenance of equipment.

See also:

Helena Kortelainen
Principal Scientist, VTT



Ari Happonen_kuva

Ari Happonen

TkT/D.Sc.(Tech.), Lappeenranta University of Technology

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