LNS Research was pleased to be among the industry media and analyst guests at the Invensys Software Conference & Tech Support Symposium last month in Dallas, TX. We were impressed with many of the innovations, along with the spirit that was exhibited by more than 1,000 people in attendance.
The three-day event was targeted at customers and ecosystem partners with goals of updating the audience with industry and market trends, strategic directions, roadmaps, new software and services releases, success stories, and technical training. Keynote sessions and over 120 breakout sessions were offered to attendees, as well as access to a demonstration area with product, service, and solutions experts from Invensys and 28 partners. Members of the industry media and analysts were also given specialized sessions, along with the opportunity to interact with Invensys executives on business, product, and services strategies. Here are some of the key concepts and takeaways:
Overall Conference Theme & Message
Dr. Ravi Gopinath, president of the Invensys software business, kicked off the conference by describing the meaning of the conference theme of “The Industrial Software Revolution Begins Now.” He explained that there is a true industrial revolution occurring in customers’ businesses today, whereby the severity of industry challenges is intensifying but software solutions are rising to meet these challenges in new and unprecedented ways. Key industry challenges noted included:
- Changing Workforce Dynamics
- Continued Drive for Greater Profitability
- Need for Faster Business Agility
- Capital Efficiency – Utilization & Availability
- Meeting Regulatory & Compliance Requirements
Ravi gave a brief update on the impending transaction of the acquisition of Invensys by Schneider Electric, which is expected to finalize early in 2014. He then rapidly transitioned into how the Invensys software business is very focused on delivering new innovations that solve customers' business challenges, creating a "business as usual" environment for all conference attendees. LNS Research believes that this type of laser focus has been a contributor to the strong financial performance of the Invensys software group, and Ravi recognized customers, employees, channel, and other ecosystem partners for their alignment and support of the mission and the financial achievements.
Attendees were also reminded of recent technology acquisitions that have occurred to expand the capabilities of the Invensys software portfolio, including:
- Spiral Software in October 2012, which added crude oil knowledge management tools that help companies track the quality of feed stocks and predict their refining behavior
- SmartGlance in June 2013, an industrial mobile reporting business app that delivers secure, on-demand access to graphical reports from any operations data source via mobile devices, allowing industrial personnel to make smarter, faster decisions
- InduSoft in September 2013, which added machine-level Human Machine Interface (HMI) and embedded intelligent device software that operates standalone, and connects islands of embedded automation to the full Wonderware software platform and information suite of offerings
Disruptive Technology Directions
Many of the key disruptive technologies that LNS Research sees in the manufacturing/production industries are rapidly being embraced by Invensys and its customers. The key technologies and impacts discussed at the conference included:
- Internet of Things, with the explosion of connected smart devices and the resulting data and information management opportunities
- Virtualization, which enables easier server administration and support, less hardware, and lower cost security/failover schemes
- Social Media, which can be used as an important market demand signal, as well as a set of technologies for real-time team collaboration
- Cloud/SaaS (Software as a Service), ability for customers to consume software applications over secured Internet and Intranets that can readily scale, are always up to date with the latest features, minimize the need for local IT support, and can be purchased as used/needed
- Mobile Devices, which more and more are becoming the communication platform of choice for a wide range of manufacturing professionals, while enabling collaborative operational teams
- Model-Based Decision Support, using realistic mathematic models to simulate and predict physical and manufacturing process behaviors, in support of increasing skill sets and safety, and optimizing the financial performance of production and assets
- Contextual Presentation of Graphical Information to increase comprehension and to reduce errors, overload, and fatigue
In order to maximize the impact of these revolutionary technologies in customer applications, Invensys executives also emphasized their current ability and future intentions to address the following additional requirements:
- Extend the application reach through Invensys partners
- Rapidly create the associated changes to software and services business models
- Continue to build out industry-specific content on top of the products
- Assist customers with related security and risk management
- Provide consistent, life-cycle support of solutions on a global basis
As an example of a customer who has embraced the full portfolio of Invensys software to create an integrated business and manufacturing solution, Dr. Gopinath referred to a turnkey solution project that Invensys recently completed for a new Satorp refinery. From refinery startup, real-time management of 120 business processes, 70 major workflows, and refinery information management was in place to support the new production operations.
Major New Product Announcements
A number of new product announcements were made at the event. We feel that the most impactful announcements were:
- Wonderware InTouch 2014 and Wonderware System Platform 2014 software – with enhancements to support visualization techniques for improved situational awareness, alarm and event handling, and improved device integration via native support of the OPC UA standard. These new capabilities should enable operators to work more effectively and to simplify the application and integration efforts when using the software platform.
- Wonderware Historian 2014 component of the Wonderware System Platform software - this adds support of up to 2 million data tags, multi-site/tiered cloud-based architectures and optional SaaS software delivery. These capabilities should deliver faster and larger deployments, along with lower cost options for information users.
Additional LNS Research Commentary
The Invensys software business appears to be on track for delivering on its aggressive products and services roadmap, as well as meeting its growth and profitability aspirations.
With all of the new technology and products, one of the challenges that LNS Research sees for Invensys is its need to further clarify and potentially rationalize some aspects of its portfolio. As an example, eight different mobile-enabled software offerings were highlighted in the conference. This is a broad set of offerings; however, it can be challenging for customers to choose the right set of overlapping mobile software capabilities that will best fit their current and future needs.
As the Schneider Electric acquisition unfolds in 2014, the Invensys software portfolio should be a strong asset that will be leveraged across even broader applications and markets.
For more information on Invensys or other Manufacturing Solutions providers, read LNS Research’s Manufacturing Operations Management Software Solution Selection Guide.