Tom Comstock

Tom Comstock is a Principal Analyst with LNS Research. In this role, he conducts research on a broad range of topics including the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), manufacturing operations management (MOM), and asset performance management (APM).
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Recent Posts

My Biggest 2022 Prediction:  Guess What Gets A Reset...Again

Posted by Tom Comstock on Thu, Jan 06, 2022

Every year, LNS Research analysts put forth predictions around the Industrial Transformation (IX) topics where we focus our research. In December 2020, I made five predictions for 2021. This year I am going to make only one prediction – in multiple parts – but I will drill into that one prediction more extensively. To help you to decide whether my multi-part prediction for 2022 is worth considering, I am concluding this blog post with an assessment of how I did in my 2021 predictions (spoiler alert: by my count, I was 4 out of 5 but you can decide).

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Categories: Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Industrial Transformation / Digital Transformation, Industry 4.0 / Smart Manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning (AI/ML), IIoT, IX Platform, Data Analytics

Pilot Purgatory in Industrial Transformation (IX) is Fake News

Posted by Tom Comstock on Tue, Nov 09, 2021

Follow the money to see the real story

Google the phrase “Pilot Purgatory” and you will see a raft of press articles about the state of Digital Transformation and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). McKinsey and Company, Deloitte, and a series of other firms have published several articles on “pilot purgatory” in IIoT, Digital Manufacturing, and Digital Transformation. IIoT and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) vendors often exasperatingly discuss the successful implementations they have done at the company’s home office that have not translated into wide-scale rollouts. These vendors curse “pilot purgatory.”

Given all the brouhaha, one would expect that companies deploying these pilots would feel “stuck in” pilot and that getting to a wide-scale rollout was a key challenge in front of their Industrial Transformation (IX) Program. But when we surveyed industrials, we found just the opposite. Few companies felt “stuck in” pilot mode and only a fraction of companies identified “moving out of pilot phase” to be a key challenge. So clearly, pilot purgatory is fake news! Let’s look at the facts and see how we can reconcile these different perspectives.

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Categories: Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM), Manufacturing Execution System (MES), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Industrial Transformation / Digital Transformation, Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning (AI/ML), IT/OT, IIoT

Evaluating Potential Industrial Transformation (IX) Strategic Partners

Posted by Tom Comstock on Thu, Oct 07, 2021

As the year 2020 ended, LNS Research published a set of three Research Spotlights highlighting the three alternative architectural paths available for manufacturers around Industrial Transformation (IX). In the 3rd Spotlight we introduced the concept of Industrial Transformation Strategic Partners. As part of the run-up to the release of the LNS Research IX Strategic Partners Solution Selection Matrix™ let’s revisit our definition of IX Strategic Partners, highlight the criteria we use to evaluate these vendors, list the vendors, and conclude with advice to manufacturers.

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Categories: Solution Vendor / Software Vendor, Industrial Transformation / Digital Transformation, Industry 4.0 / Smart Manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning (AI/ML), IT/OT, IX Platform, Solution Selection Matrix

From Lighthouse to Center of Excellence

Posted by Tom Comstock on Tue, Aug 31, 2021

In a recent blog post, our fearless leader, President and Principal Analyst Matthew Littlefield, noted that, “Although no one can argue with the technological innovation and productivity gains that lighthouse plants demonstrate, our data shows that including lighthouse plants as part of your Industrial Transformation (IX) program does not correlate to success.”  This post builds on that earlier post and drills into when lighthouse strategies can be effective and what is an alternative strategy more correlated to success.

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Categories: Operational Excellence, Industrial Transformation / Digital Transformation, IX Platform, Lighthouse Manufacturing, Lighthouse Plants

The “Holy Grail” and the “Puzzle” in Discrete and Batch Manufacturing Applications

Posted by Tom Comstock on Thu, Aug 12, 2021

We all know the reality of discrete and batch manufacturers. If you walk into virtually any manufacturing plant, you will find literally hundreds of manufacturing computing applications being utilized. A few of those applications, ERP most prominently, are generally supported by the corporate IT staff. A wider number of those applications, automation and MES, are typically supported by operations itself via the OT team or the “shadow IT” team (the manufacturing engineers, etc., that are providing day-to-day support to these systems). The vast majority of applications are custom – often built in Excel, Access, or Java – and are not well-supported and virtually impossible to deploy across sites. And, the picture gets worse: despite all these applications, operational personnel are still looking for more technology to help reduce manufacturing costs and improve quality.

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Categories: Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM), Manufacturing Execution System (MES), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Industrial Transformation / Digital Transformation, IX Platform, qualitymanagement

Digital Twins Uncomplicated: Answering the Three Most Asked Questions

Posted by Tom Comstock on Wed, May 19, 2021

LNS Research has been writing about Digital Twins for a number of years. We still find our manufacturing clients confused by the opportunities presented by Digital Twins and unclear on how to proceed. In face of this reality, we wanted to set up a simple framework for thinking about Digital Twin use cases and answer some of the most common questions we hear about these concepts.

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Categories: Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Industrial Transformation / Digital Transformation, Digital Twin, IX Platform

Reliance NXG Announced at ETQ Quality Vision 2021:  "Cloud Native" Approach May Allow Customers to Leapfrog Competition

Posted by Tom Comstock on Tue, May 11, 2021

LNS Research had the opportunity to participate in ETQ’s virtual event, Quality Vision 2021. The virtual mainstage was dominated by discussion of the company’s concurrent new product release, Reliance NXG, a cloud-native version of Reliance that is reportedly fully functional.

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Categories: Cloud, Industrial Transformation / Digital Transformation, Quality 4.0, LifeSciences, qualitymanagement

New Solution Selection Matrix for the IX Platform Helps Guide Your Shortlist of Suppliers

Posted by Tom Comstock on Fri, Apr 30, 2021

Industrial Transformation (IX) continues to animate manufacturers worldwide. Our 2020 global survey shows that more than three-quarters of companies are executing, piloting, or planning on executing an Industrial Transformation (IX) program in the next 12 months despite a global pandemic. Industrial Transformation Platforms (IX Platforms) are a core component to the majority of IX Leaders who are three times more likely to be implementing an IX Platform as compared to Followers.

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Categories: Industrial Transformation / Digital Transformation, IX Platform, Solution Selection Matrix

What is an Industrial Transformation (IX) Platform?

Posted by Tom Comstock on Tue, Mar 02, 2021

LNS Research was the first to define an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Platform in 2014. Our blog post continues to get strong search engine placement, readership, and inquiry. But the vision and definition were incomplete; the IIoT is not a catch all – it is focused on industrial device connectivity, management, data collection, and edge analytics – but enabling transformation takes much more.

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Rockwell Automation Fair at Home

Posted by Tom Comstock on Tue, Jan 19, 2021

LNS Research recently had the opportunity to listen in on Rockwell Automation’s first virtual Automation Fair. Rockwell Automation strove valiantly to replicate the massive Automation Fair virtually: they continued to have Perspective Keynotes, detailed product and technical sessions, hands-on training, a partner exhibit, and even a virtual tour of the Product and Technology showcase. Rockwell Automation is known for its partner and channel-based strategy and this event reconfirmed, yet again, how strong Rockwell Automation’s orientation to partners and channels really is.

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Categories: Cloud, Industrial Transformation / Digital Transformation, Industry 4.0 / Smart Manufacturing, Edge