The impact of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) on the market for asset reliability software and services cannot be understated. In fact, leading suppliers are using asset performance management (APM) as the entry point to IIoT. The link between APM and IIoT has spurred a flurry of supplier consolidation and strategic alliances as suppliers look to increase IIoT capabilities using ecosystems.
Alliances and partnerships are not a new phenomenon in the automation industry. However, the scale has intensified as demand for complex, integrated solutions continues unabated. At the current stage of IIoT maturity, it has become clear that no single supplier can supply a complete IIoT solution. An ecosystem is required to supply all the components to enable manufacturers to connect assets, including mobile devices, dashboards, networks, gateways, analytics, data storage, and security. The advantage of an ecosystem is the ability to rapidly harmonize a diverse range of capabilities and innovations into a common solution. Members of an ecosystem are dependent on each other for success while the platform provider, in this case, is to capture the value the ecosystem creates. The benefits for ecosystem partners include business efficiencies, expanded customer reach, enhanced technology offerings, and the ability to deliver broader portfolios of services. Partners can leverage their ecosystems to solve challenging customer problems. For end users, ecosystems facilitate evaluation of products and services.
The APM and IIoT link has spawned a wave of supplier consolidation and alliances. GE Digital, for example, has more than 200 partners in its ecosystem that are contributing IP, developing apps, or implementing its Predix platform. In addition to its acquisition of Meridium, GE continues to make acquisitions to broaden its depth in the asset performance management space in both software as well as services with the acquisition of ServiceMax. AspenTech is a new market entry with its acquisitions of machine learning provider, Mtell, and Fidelis Group, LLC, provider of software to predict and optimize asset performance. Schneider Electric has been a fringe reliability solution supplier due to the deep functionality of its EAM software. Its recently announced alliance with MaxGrip adds reliability consulting experience to its APM portfolio. Siemens Mindsphere ecosystem includes Atos, Accenture, Evosoft, SAP, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, and Bluvision. Bentley Systems and Siemens announced a strategic alliance for joint development of digital engineering models. Building on that alliance, Siemens’ Energy Management Division and Bentley Systems will offer new solutions that will integrate Bentley System's utility design and geographic information systems (GIS) capabilities with Siemens' Power System Simulation (PSS) Suite.
Smaller suppliers serving the APM space are also banding together to enhance their abilities to compete. Ecosystems of smaller providers can enhance the chances of survival in the IIoT era by leveraging each other’s strengths. Architecting a partner ecosystem to serve the SMB market could be the key to not only survive, but thrive in the IIoT era.