Autonomous Systems, Connected Plant, IIoT, Interviews

HPE: Basic IT-infrastructures are about to reach their limits


Johannes Diemer
Manager Industrie 4.0, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Johannes Diemer is working for the Hewlett-Packard GmbH as Manager Industrie 4.0 responsible for the activities around “Industrial Digitization” in Central Europe. Since he started at Hewlett-Packard as technical consultant 1996, he took over managerial functions within Germany as product manager, sales manager for High Education and later for High Performance Computing. November 2011 he accepted a role as business development manager to work out and promote central themes for the country management. Within this role, he contributed to the German initiative “Industrie 4.0”.

Where do you see the IoT and its technologies creating the most impact?

IoT is creating two major types of impact. One is making existing processes better – this is the simple bottom line of most IoT activity today. Take the frequently quoted predictive maintenance case as an example. IoT helps preventing problems instead of fixing them – maintenance processes become more efficient as service technicians have access to better data, and so on. But all this does not change the role of maintenance as such as an internal supporting process or as a service provided to customers. This applies to the whole value chain. Ninety-nine percent of the talk around “Industrie 4.0” is about vertical and horizontal integration as a means to become faster, more flexible, and more efficient. This is all great and would as such justify that we create such hype around IoT.

But there is a second major IoT impact which is not yet well understood and practiced. This is what we frequently refer to as “creation of new business models”. In theory, it can seem to be a small step from delivering maintenance services to delivering specific outcomes as a service. But this involves a redesign of the whole value chain, a build-up of new core competencies, new job profiles, new financial models, and so on. This dimension of IoT will have a huge impact on all industries in the sense that it will change competition and industry structures. It not only changes how we play, but the rules of the game.

Where do you see the biggest challenges at the moment in terms of adoption of IoT?

One of the challenges is to ensure security and privacy, considering that in IoT we deal with new forms of data generation, analysis, application and transport. Also, we have to establish open interfaces, the syntax and semantics required to describe functionalities enabling “things” to interact in the sense of “plug & produce”. From a legal viewpoint, we face a couple of unsolved aspects, like the ownership of data and a legal binding definition of a “digital product”.

How do you see the next 5 years evolving?

We currently see implementations of Industrie-4.0 or IoT applications focusing on vertical integration, providing smart devices or cyber physical systems combined with new types of digital services. In the next five years, we will see more and more disruptive new business models based on various forms of collaboration, using digital platforms which change the complete ecosystem of industries. The nature of digital ecosystems is that successful platform-based business models tend to accumulate economic power. The question is how this will play out in different industries, and which types of digital platforms – one-vendor, federal or co-operative – will evolve.

Finally, looking at technology, our basic IT infrastructures will reach limits in the next couple of years. IoT causes exponential data growth, and this data has to be processed and analysed in real time. We cannot assume that Moore’s Law will help us overcome those challenges. In fact, we need radically new approaches to computing if we want to make IoT a pervasive reality. For instance, this means implementing distributed-mesh IoT architectures where a lot of the processing and analysis is done in the “things” themselves.

The Industry of Things World team thanks Johannes Diemer for sharing his insights!

Interview Partner: Johannes Diemer and Elise Orhan