The Evolution of EAM Systems and IT

By Ed O'Brien

Industry Trends

An Inflection Point in EAM Development and Deployment is Underway

With many of today’s asset-intensive organizations looking to coordinate or consolidate their asset management systems to meet evolving, more complex needs, it’s time for them to consider a market scan of emerging EAM needs.  This review is needed, because many EAM systems have transitioned from siloed maintenance management systems to be embraced as true, enterprise-wide systems.  A key factor in the expanded role of EAM systems is the ability to leverage advancements in network, platform, and application technologies. 

There are several profound changes occurring in IT and EAM development in such areas as open architectures, open APIs and improved connectivity, and enhanced predictive abilities.  Users are realizing that today’s maintenance management organizations increasingly need enterprise-level visibility that offers single version of the truth about the status and health of their equipment, but shared with IT and OT partners. 

While these goals have long been discussed, it’s only been recently that IT solutions in such areas as analytics, connectivity, and interoperability have become relatively easy and inexpensive to become readily available.       

EAM and IT Capabilities Continue to Grow, and Often in Parallel

While many industry experts consider EAM to be a mature market, it has nonetheless progressed steadily over time.  Still, EAM is a dynamic market, but one that is often dependent on the pace of underlying IT innovations.  Such IT changes offer a foundation for EAM systems to innovate in lock-step with IT, enabling new opportunities for end users.    

These changes have been desired for some time, but the underlying IT systems have typically required much customization, which can be both time-consuming and expensive.  Recent advancements in open, connected app and platform development, as well as expanded SaaS deployment options, have allowed the use of cost-effective EAM solutions that offer rapid-time-to-benefits and expanded value-generating opportunities. 

Chief among them are expanded connectivity opportunities made possible by vendors’ increased use of open architecture, open APIs, integration hubs, and native interoperability.  Also, expanded EAM capabilities often include a transition to real-time (or near-real time), mobile-first, SaaS-enabled, enterprise-level maintenance management systems.  Add to this equation expanded features for plant, field, fleet, and facilities management, condition monitoring, inventory, purchasing, and materials management, and it’s easy to understand users’ enthusiasm for these next-gen systems.  In addition, advances in reporting and analytics features offer as ability to better categorize, model, plan, schedule, and analyze maintenance data across EAM, ERP, RCM, and adjacent systems.   

IT Innovation Has Helped Spur Broader EAM Capabilities  

Examples of expanded asset management capabilities can be seen in Figure 1, which shows how far the evolution of IT and EAM systems has occurred over the recent past.  These systems have evolved in many ways, but most notably in areas, such as app architecture, development, and infrastructure.     

The transition from technology stacks that are monolithic, soloed, inflexible, and slow have progressed to a more nimble, open, interconnected, and faster IT infrastructure that can be a foundation for more robust and capable EAM systems.  

(Note: Possible alt text phrase for the following graphic: EAM systems continue to evolve at a rapid pace, largely the result of recent IT innovations.)

Figure 1: Evolution of EAM Systems and IT

evolution of EAM Evolution%20of%20EAM.JPG

Closing Thoughts

For organizations evaluating both current and future IT and EAM options, consider the following:    

  • In addition to reviewing feature/function abilities of EAM systems, users should assess the ability of these systems to work with adjacent systems, such as sensors and condition monitoring solutions, as well as their integration and interoperability and data management capabilities.
  • Data and predictive analytics are becoming increasingly important, as a way to capture asset performance data, identify trends, and to predict needed and suggested preventive and corrective maintenance activities.
  • Consider SaaS and cloud versions of EAM solutions to take advantage of the latest functionality, interoperability, frequent updates, and relatively low deployment costs.

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