Topic: Understanding the Industrial IoT is like learning to speak a new language, only this one is data-driven. Weidmüller offers the easy way to the IIoT to help our distribution partners learn to speak “data” fluently and take the step from data to value.
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Roger Kroon, Vice President Global Distribution Management
I head the Global Distribution Management at Weidmüller. My team of dedicated distribution experts and I are on a mission to secure long-term and mutually beneficial partnerships with our distributors and create real value-add for our customers.
After more than 20 years in industrial automation, I’m aware of the uncertainties that new technologies bring with them and the amount of practical experience it takes to navigate them successfully. I’m now able to speak the IIoT language, whose vocabulary is completely data-based.
What I’ve discovered while speaking with our distribution partners about the possibilities of Industrial IoT, is that uncertainty is always present. But I’m certain of one thing: IIoT offers untapped potential for distributors! To successfully leverage these new business opportunities requires a willingness to change the way we work, to learn to speak this new data-based language and to find the right partner committed to long-term cooperation.
Responding to “Accelerating the Internet of Things Timeline”, a global survey by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, executives see great potential in IIoT to improve the quality of products and services, reduce operational costs and develop new products and services.
While we all agree that there’s a lot to be gained from IIoT, for me the study highlights a much more critical point: "How?" is still the big unanswered question. About half of the respondents of the survey do not know where to start using the technology. 40% have difficulty finding external consultants with IIoT experience. And a further 34% have a hard time finding external consultants who are familiar with their industry.
For me, this evaluation makes one thing clear: The high demand for external IIoT experts is a source of great potential for our distribution partners and us. Weidmüller’s mission is to show companies the easy way to the IIoT. From the sensor to the cloud, we provide components and solutions to acquire, pre-process, communicate, understand and utilise data. More importantly, our IIoT experts focus on the question “How do you want to benefit from the Industrial IoT?”. This way, we take our customers and partners from data to value by enabling them to learn this data-based language and benefit from value-added services.
To leverage the IIoT successfully, we need to get the foundation right: data acquisition, pre-processing and communication. This is the part we all feel comfortable with in the distribution business, as it’s largely component-based and most familiar to how we have successfully managed our business in the past.
Weidmüller's portfolio covers everything a company needs to build a solid IoT infrastructure. From the acquisition of sensor data for example with the u-remote I/O system or analogue signal converters, to data pre-processing or even data communication with security routers for cross-network communication or networking of a wide range of network participants with managed and unmanaged switches.
Digitalisation is not an end in itself. The central question “how will the customer benefit?” needs to be considered in every step. That’s why even when it comes to covering the basic infrastructure, I’m convinced that we have to offer benefits that will help our end customers in the long run, if we really want to offer best-in-class IIoT services. For the Smart Factory, this means future-proof products that not only meet today's challenges, but also enable IIoT expansion in the future.
One example: PROtop power supply. It’s suitable for a greenfield or brownfield approach, because the communication modules can be retrofitted. So even if the answer to the question of how customers want to use their data changes over time, all options are open to them, which in my opinion is great added value.
If companies want to use the IIoT to increase the efficiency and productivity of systems or develop new business models, they need to understand the collected data to use it effectively. It’s like becoming fluent in a new language to successfully convey its content.
As highlighted in the study, finding the right partner for companies wishing to benefit from IIoT is a major challenge. I also believe that there’s still a lot of hesitation in the distribution business to take up this challenge. Data-driven business is still the "big unknown", it’s not as familiar and therefore not as predictable as the electronic components business. So, hesitation and uncertainty are completely understandable! After all, this new business requires different expertise, a completely solution-oriented sales approach and a long-term commitment with the customer that goes beyond what many of us in the distribution business are currently comfortable with offering.
According to the survey, preventive and predictive maintenance applications are becoming the top spending priority for those in the automotive, energy, construction and manufacturing industries. If these sectors are willing to take this step, I can assure our distribution partners that they won’t face the challenge alone.
With Weidmüller, they have a partner at their side that already provides a variety of predictive maintenance solutions for these industries. These range from highly intuitive software to individual solutions designed by our data experts. As a strong partner, we not only give our distributors access to our IIoT experts. We also support them with extensive training programs and joint customer projects to build up their own know-how. ’Cause after all, we're all in this together!
With this offering in mind, I’m convinced that working with Weidmüller is an incredible benefit for all distributors who want to gain IIoT business! By building on our strong and long-term partnerships, we ensure that we have a winning combination to meet the needs of end customers. We do this by showing them the easy way to the IIoT and take them from data to value: from simple data collection to empowering them to gain the added value that comes from understanding and utilising data. At the same time, we create new potential for profitable business for our distribution partners. As I said before: it’s all about learning and using the language of “data” correctly. So, if you want your sales teams to learn to “speak data fluently” – let’s talk about it.