ARC’s 18th India Forum Goes Virtual to Focus on Digital Transformation (Part 1)

By Sharada Prahladrao

ARC Report Abstract


The current pandemic has changed the way industry and other events are hosted the world over. The physical has given way to the virtual; and - for the very first time - the ARC India Forum was hosted online virtually on September 8-9, 2020. As with all firsts, there were some initial apprehensions about this.   However, with more than 300 industry professionals participating remotely, it appears that (as with our recent ARC Virtual European Forum), in the current environment, this was the right platform to disseminate information globally.  ARC plans to continue to use a similar approach for our upcoming Industry Forums in Orlando and elsewhere.

This two-day virtual forum provided end users, solution providers, and decision makers an opportunity to learn from each other and get an overall view of the market and its requirements.  Presentations focused on digital transformation initiatives covering the gamut from overcoming barriers to digital twin applications, cybersecurity, and future architectures.  The attendees understood how companies are digitalizing business processes, the digital transformation journey, and where they are on the digital maturity curve.  Common parlance that echoed through all the presentations were: flexibility, agility, adaptability, and restructuring business models to adapt to the “new normal.”  

Part 1 of this two-part ARC Insight will focus on the first day's proceedings; Part 2 will focus on the second day’s proceedings.

Keynote Presentations

The welcome address by G. Ganapathiraman, Vice President and General Manager, ARC Advisory Group, India set the tenor for the keynote presentations.  After each presentation there were short Q&A sessions.

Reliance Industries Joins the OPAF

Divyang Shah, Group Lead – Instrument Reliability in Center of Excellence, Instrument Department, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) spoke about the  Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF), highlighting open architecture in ICS.  RIL was motivated to join OPAF  (a forum of The Open Group) because of issues related to obsolete control systems.  Further, he spoke about  OPAF’s goals and values, its role in ecosystems, OPAF working groups and activities, broad industry representation, and demonstrated success in other industries.

Digital Twins in Cities

Improving resilience of industrial, infrastructure, and city assets was the focus of the presentation by Anne-Marie Walters, Global Marketing Director, Bentley Systems.  After a brief overview of the company, she showcased real-life examples of digital twins in cities to monitor city planning, floods/road work, etc. in real time.   The company’s digital twin solutions cover the systems and applications in the project lifecycle (project delivery, design integration) and asset lifecycle (asset and network performance; digital cities).  Defining an infrastructure digital twin she said that it is a digital representation of a physical asset, process or system that is continuously updated from multiple sources to generate insights.

Building a Digital Enterprise

Next, Bireswar Roy, Head, Digital Industry Services, Siemens spoke about digital transformation in the present manufacturing scenario and the importance of making the right choices (understand, plan, implement). The fundamentals to improve quality, operational efficiency, and shorter time-to-market remain the same.  The question to be asked is if change is being made with a particular intent, an objective, or just because it’s a trend?  Through digital twins the real and virtual worlds can be integrated and monitored along the entire value chain.  However, successful digital transformation of an organization “requires having a digital mindset with focus on agility and ownership culture,” he added. 

Continuing on the Theme of Digital Transformation

Digital Twin Applications in Hydrocarbon Processing Industry

After giving a brief overview of the company and the significant recent investments from global strategic and financial investors, Vikas Deshmukh, Vice President, Technology Center of Excellence, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) spoke about digital twin applications in the hydrocarbon processing industry.   The asset-intensive hydrocarbon industry generates huge volumes of data that must be utilized optimally to support real-time decisions. He said that a digital twin is required at all stages (design, operations, maintenance, and competency) for multiple reasons:

  • Business focus is changing from “maintaining business” to “growing business” 
  • Technology delivery models are changing
  • Systems must be future ready to leverage technology as tools to complement and enhance human labor

Digital Transformation

Next, G. Ganapathiraman of ARC Advisory Group spoke about how new technologies are reinventing every aspect of every industrial sector.  His presentation was in two parts: new digital reality; and 21st century digital software.  He spoke about technology, innovation, and disruption giving the example of the mobile phone -  which began as a communication tool and is now like a computer in your pocket! The first part was about the impact of disruptive technologies, such as cloud, artificial intelligence, robotics etc. on the industrial landscape; and although it’s hard  to see the future, it sure is coming fast, he said.  He said that for successful digital transformation, comprehensive planning and management are needed.

digital transformation initiatives

In the second part of his presentation, Mr. Raman elaborated on how “software is  eating the world,” and how it is powering the Industrial IoT revolution.  He further spoke about the evolution of IT systems; the functionality gaps, and transitioning to the new software to create a digitally integrated enterprise.  At the end he presented ARC’s end user survey analysis on the digital transformation of industry and ARC’s Digital Transformation Council.


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Keywords: Digital Transformation,  Pandemic, ARC India Virtual Forum, Industry 4.0, Industrial IoT, Digital Twin, Digital Enterprise, ARC Advisory Group.

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