A brief review of the 2017 ICONICS Worldwide Customer Summit
It’s been an incredible few days here in Providence, Rhode Island. It seems appropriate to share a few words on what has been a fantastic event!
Day One: Mega Trends, AI/ML, and Mixed Reality
The theme and title of the summit has been ‘Connected Intelligence’. Russ Agrusa, our President and CEO, set a fast-paced pioneering tone in his highly anticipated and customary ‘President’s Keynote’. Russ shared his automation mega-trend forecasts, diving into his take on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Machine/Deep Learning, Mixed Reality and Hot/Cold Big Data (and the value of aptly positioning Data Historians in such a world).
The pace was set, and immediately after Russ’s keynote, we witnessed a drone being controlled and monitored via Amazon’s Alexa technology and GENESIS64™ amid Roberto Vercelli’s launch of Smart Alarm AnalytiX! Despite a somewhat rebellious drone who was reluctant to stream its in-flight vantage point, I was amazed by (and very proud of), the ingenuity, originality and dynamicity of our engineers. Voice controlled alarm shelving, prioritisation and dynamic filtering functionality supplemented by visualisation data (maps, video feeds and smart pins) is truly next-generation alarm management. Yes, that accolade is coming from a conversant member of the ICONICS family, but sometimes it takes more to impress the accustomed. We were all impressed.
In an action-packed two hours, Agrusa, along with several prominent keynote speakers, seamlessly unveiled previews of SaaS energy solutions, AnalytiX-BI/KPIWorX self-service dashboards, end-to-end IoT technology, and applications that could leverage Machine Learning within Hyper Historian. A high point for the audience, according to the feedback data, was RealWear Inc.’s exclusive launch of the world’s first voice-controlled hands-free wearable headset, running a lightweight, rapidly configured ICONICS HTML5 mobile app; MobileHMI™. The mixed-reality application is ideal for maintenance engineers working in noisy industrial environments, who need to navigate their way through technical documents or collaborate with colleagues via video streams.
In case you snubbed the title and opening line of this blog, the theme for the summit has been ‘connected intelligence’, and the main takeaway (for me) from day one was that the integration of our industrial data, wherever that data resides, is integral to seizing any sort of competitive edge within digitization. Whether at the edge, in the foggy cloud, on-premise or up in Azure/AWS/<insert cloud platform>, the convergence of IT and OT needs to happen, and it’s a question of disrupt or be disrupted.
Day Two: The Value of Delivering the Right Data
After a cordial dinner and glamorous red-carpet reception on Wednesday evening, the second full day of the conference brought some of what originally seemed like future-thinking back down to the here and now. Mark Hepburn, our VP of Worldwide Sales, cemented the fact that enterprise visualisation is what we do best, and our support for open protocols, including IIoT communication methods, is key to unlocking interoperability in Industrie 4.0 stimulated initiatives. Ultimately, you can’t fix what you can’t see, and if 90% of the world’s data has been generated in the past two years, we need to get better at turning that data into insight. Sensors will produce 40% of ALL data by 2020, yet 54% of US manufacturers say they lack a unified view of their plant or building.
Babcock Analytical Services (BAS), part of Babcock International, took us through their journey with ICONICS UK, and the ways in which they’re using Complex Asset Performance Analytics (CAPA) to monitor high value, maritime assets, via dynamic visualisation dashboards. GENESIS64™ has allowed them to digitize engineering logic and begin to describe and predict asset performance. Their presentation was compelling and slick and showcased our technology in unconventional marketplaces for us.
We closed up Hepburn's session on Thursday morning with another fantastic AR-focused Holographic Machine Interface demo from Chris Elsbree, Chief Software Architect at ICONICS. Via a holographic ‘Digital Twin’, Chris controlled and monitored a Mitsubishi Electric six-axis robot with a Microsoft HoloLens device; certain gestures were used to control, stop/start the robot and interact with the physical machine. He set-up digital zone regions that when he entered/exited (in the real world, but only visible within the digital twin view), the robot would adjust its behaviour, slowing when he approached and stopping entirely if he came too close. This level of safety is crucial when interacting with machines in the industrial world, and key to the success or failure of AR in manufacturing.
Wrapping-up: What's Next?
By our own admission, if we may: when it comes to innovation, our only limitation seems to be the imagination of our senior visionaries and partners. As a tech-marketeer, that makes my job very exciting. The incredible amount of know-how and contagious passion for automation excellence across the ICONICS partner ecosystem this week has been obvious, and together we are pushing the boundaries of industrial innovation.
For those who attended this year’s event, it was a pleasure to spend the week with you. For those who couldn’t make it, I'll offer up this highlight video showcasing some of the best clips of the week:
I encourage you all to explore the pending release material and to sign yourself up to some of the regional follow-up seminars we plan on running. More on that to come.