Handling the Mid-Life Crisis in Digital Transformation
A recent survey conducted by the ARC Advisory Group says that manufacturers are going through a “digital transformation mid-life crisis.” The results of the survey have not been published, but a new article in Microsoft’s Technology Record gives an overview. And it matches what we’ve been seeing.
Responding to the pandemic, supply chain issues, war, and economic fluctuations, more manufacturers than ever are embracing digital transformation. But despite the benefits, they face problems scaling up, implementing security, putting together disparate systems, and building a unified data model. As a result, we are seeing growing interest in Skkynet technologies that directly address these issues.
“The main takeaway is that most manufacturers are well on their journey to digitalization, but continue to face complexities to scale out,” says Rodriguez Lepage, Microsoft’s director of product marketing for manufacturing.
This is not surprising, since many of the solutions being tried are new to the industrial space. Those vendors lack experience working with real-time data coming from dozens of sources using multiple protocols at scales of hundreds of thousands of data point changes per second. This has been our wheelhouse since day one, and we thrive in this environment.
“One of the major issues impacting how far manufacturers have progressed on their transformation journeys is security,” the article said. These enterprises are getting plenty of support in the cybersecurity war from both the tech sector and governments.
The White House and European Union in its NIS 2 Directive have laid out requirements for secure networking of industrial data that call for segmenting OT and IT networks using DMZs. Skkynet’s DataHub tunnel/mirror technology, continually being refined for over 20 years, provides an off-the-shelf solution for network segmentation across DMZs that is unmatched in the marketplace.
The article points out how manufacturers struggle with large numbers of industrial applications and protocols. “Some will have thousands of different vendors, equipment, proprietary protocols and applications that they’re trying to stitch together,” said Lepage. “They’re all looking for help with digitalization, with IT connectors to the enterprise systems and OT connectors to manufacturing execution systems (MES).”
This kind of connectivity has been a Skkynet mainstay since its inception. Our DataHub technology was created to connect one vendor’s industrial operating system with another vendor’s HMI system, in real time. Protocol conversion, TCP networking, and real-time data handling were built into that application, and continue to be heavily featured in today’s products and services.
Unified Data Model
“Connecting OT and IT, and creating a unified and extensible factory data model also came out as a high priority for manufacturers to accelerate their digitalization efforts,” said Lepage. “Ease of use in terms of interoperability with the standard tools is also important.”
As they move towards digital transformation, companies are beginning to value how Skkynet’s DataHub architecture provides the unified data model they need. Each application connects using its own protocol to send or receive data. Whenever any data value changes, the unified data set updates, and the new value goes to each connected application in its own protocol.
Crisis? What crisis? Skkynet has been on top of these issues for over 25 years, before most people even heard of digital transformation. We’ve done this by developing a deep understanding of the principles of industrial data communication, and building them into all our products and services.