Today market research and strategic consulting firm PAC has published the PAC INNOVATION RADAR “Open Digital Platforms for the Industrial World in Europe 2020”. It is the broadest analysis of the vendor landscape around newly emerging topics in the context of digital platforms. PAC screened more than 120 platforms and evaluated 61 in seven different segments, around specific focus areas: industrial cloud, industrial edge, industrial edge cloud, 3D printing services, connected workers, open source-based enterprise IoT platforms, and IoT data exchange and monetization. Depending on their focus areas, the providers were positioned in one or more analyses.

Across all segments, only 15 players achieved a “Best in Class” rating: 3D Hubs, Amazon Web Services, Bosch.IO, Bosch Rexroth, Eurotech, IBM, Microsoft, OSIsoft, Otonomo, PTC, Red Hat, RE´FLEKT, Siemens, ThingsBoard, Ubimax.

Open digital platforms have the ambition to increasingly manage the highly heterogeneous world of industrial data and applications as an integrated and agile digital system. They go beyond industrial IoT data, orchestrating container-based applications in a DevOps way across connected devices, industrial edge computing, and the cloud. To underline this evolutionary shift, we move away from the terminology of IoT platforms, towards open digital platforms for the industrial world.

Different concepts of open digital platforms are starting to compete in the industrial world

As illustrated by the emerging term “edge computing”, companies are currently reconsidering their IT architectures around factories and other operational environments. While the future of the industrial world is certainly hybrid (edge and cloud together), we observe different, competing concepts in the market:

  • Industrial cloud concept: The idea is to bring data from industrial devices at the edge to the applications in the cloud for central data processing. In this concept, the cloud acts as the central hub for all data and all applications. The edge is mainly a tightly integrated extension of the cloud. The vendor landscape for this concept comes from different areas: hyperscalers such as Microsoft and AWS, providers of industrial IoT platforms (e.g. PTC ThingWorx), and industrial software vendors (e.g. the MES solution FORCAM FORCE).
  • Industrial edge concept: The idea is to bring applications to the data at the edge for local data processing, and the edge acts as the central hub for all data. Within this concept, the cloud can act as extended data storage or as app store for edge applications. The emerging vendor landscape in this field has a strong background in industrial automation (e.g. Siemens, Bosch Rexroth, Phoenix Contact).

PAC INNOVATION RADAR Open Digital Platforms for the Industrial Edge, PAC, 2020
              PAC INNOVATION RADAR Open Digital Platforms for the Industrial Edge, PAC, 2020

  • Industrial edge cloud concept: Kubernetes will be the next big thing at the edge, as it already is in the cloud. Kubernetes is a highly automated approach to managing and scaling a large amount of containerized applications across clusters of distributed infrastructures. The basic aspects of the industrial edge cloud concept are therefore quite similar to the industrial edge concept, with one extension – thanks to Kubernetes, edge applications become more scalable, even into the cloud. Large companies with a high and further growing level of digital automation in their factories have the most need to consider this concept.​

Besides the above-mentioned core concepts of open digital platforms for the industrial world, we also see other types of platforms in the market. All of them address dedicated niche markets. They help to reduce the complexity of specific processes and workflows. This allows users to become much more agile and efficient:

  • Open digital platforms for 3D printing services
  • Open digital platforms for connected workers (AR)
  • Open digital platforms for enterprise IoT (open source-based)
  • Open digital platforms for IoT data exchange & monetization

“In a high-speed world, no individual application creates a lasting competitive advantage – it is the ability to move faster on a large scale that makes the difference. Today, open digital platforms are the best approach to achieving this for the digital factory in an efficient way,” says Arnold Vogt, IoT Analyst at PAC.

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