OSIsoft PI World 2019 in Gothenburg – IoT projects in XXL size

As an analyst I attend many events related to my topic of interest – IoT. What we often see is a lot of ‘show’ around new IoT use cases, many product presentations from vendors and their partners, and of course also some client projects, but mainly at a very early stage of the project life cycle, often still in the PoC (proof of concept) phase. We rarely see really big and long-standing IoT implementations. From this perspective, PI World in Gothenburg was not a big ‘show’. In fact, it was much more – big IoT business. If you are interested in seeing big and long-standing IoT implementations, you should definitely visit PI World next year. ‘Big’ here means IoT projects which manage real-time data from hundreds of thousands of sensor-based data streams. ‘Long-standing’ means that these projects have often evolved over 10, 20, or even 30 years. I had the pleasure to attend my first PI World conference in Gothenburg (Sweden) during Sep 17-19, 2019. I was impressed by the companies on stage (such as Sandvik Coromant, Toyota, Enel, or Roche) talking about their long-term experiences and the size of their IoT implementations. Just to give one example – EDP, a Portuguese energy provider, talked about how they manage real-time data across 120 power plants with 400,000 data streams to maximize operational efficiency.

This again raises the question of whether IoT really is new or just a hype topic? As always, it is a mix of both elements. We often observe in the market that long-term trends such as the constantly increasing collection of sensor data get a new push from new market forces. The availability and affordability of technology (cloud, analytics, sensors, connectivity, micro-compute power) are often key drivers in this respect, allowing to apply already existing concepts such as IoT to new device families and new use cases, thus opening new doors to new industries. This is why IoT is new in some areas, but certainly not everywhere. In the process industry (energy, pharma, oil and gas, food and beverage, water, paper), which is typically very asset- and energy-intensive, the concept of utilizing sensor data from connected machinery and equipment to improve process transparency and to optimize operational efficiency has existed for many years. Therefore, in this space, you have huge and long-standing IoT implementations. OSIsoft has been a key vendor to these industries with its PI System for many years. The PI System enables the management (collection, storage, contextualization, visualization) of real-time sensor data on a very large scale. The company has a strong presence in oil and gas; water and energy supply; power generation; chemicals and pharma; metals and mining; pulp and paper; food and beverage; and increasingly also in buildings, transportation, and discrete manufacturing. They claim that 65% of the Fortune 500 industrial companies use the PI System and that OSIsoft generates around USD 450 million in revenue from this. According to them, PI System implementations manage over 2 billion real-time, sensor-based data streams worldwide. To summarize this in the words of one participant at PI World, “the PI System is THE data pocket of the OT world”. To further enhance this, OSIsoft as a company is currently focusing on four areas – addressing new industries, adding new cloud services, helping clients with new business models, and further extending the partner ecosystem around its PI System to deliver more analytics-based, industry-specific applications.

Due to these facts, OSIsoft’s definition of IoT is more specific than others’. For OSIsoft, connecting sensor data from assets and plants to enterprise systems (within the “primary, company-internal network”, as they call it) is business as usual. What is new today for OSIsoft is just the enhancement of the already existing implementations to cover millions of new sensors and also allow data sharing between multiple enterprises (they call it the “secondary network”). In short, from their perspective, IoT creates even greater transparency of complex internal operations and enables transparency across company boundaries. The future is clear for OSIsoft: managing even more real-time sensor data in highly complex “systems of systems”. That´s the challenge ahead in the IoT space for them.

teknowlogy | PAC sees the PI System as one of the leading IoT platforms for industrial applications in the market today. If you are interested in more information about this, please read our PAC RADAR on this topic: IoT Platforms for Industrial Applications in Europe - PAC RADAR (internal use) - 2019