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A magazine on science, technology and business

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Digital ecosystems are emerging

Riitta Ekholm | 13.1.2016

“Finland is a land of opportunity for the industrial internet, where companies are quick to develop test environments,” says Iiro Salkari from VTT. The current technology disruption will not only shake up industries but also our everyday lives.

​Established less than one year ago, the Finnish Industry Internet Forum (FIIF) is a platform where top talent from companies and research institutes come together every couple of months to brainstorm and identify ways of creating completely new industries or ecosystems that could start conquering global markets.

Nokia managed to do this because it took bold and quick steps to test and pilot the NMT and later the GSM technologies – and because the operating environment in Finland made it possible.

“This is the attitude I would like to see today, says Iiro Salkari,” Vice President of Business Development at VTT, challenging current structures.

In his view, businesses embarking on this path go through three stages. In the first stage, their focus is on increased production or productivity by means of digitalisation. In the second, advanced businesses will utilise sensors to collect and analyse data – and on top of all that, create new products and services.

In the third stage, they create completely new types of business and meet a customer need by rethinking the entire solution, how to best solve the customer’s problem starting from scratch with the best available technologies. At the same time, they must consider larger questions in relation to the society, such as the acceptability of the solution and any regulatory requirements.


Analytics create business

The introduction of increasingly mature technologies makes digitalisation a hot topic. According to Salkari, the discussion has a new approach; the focus is on digitalisation between industries, not within individual industries.

“Value chains are being renewed, creating new industries and structures,” Salkari says.

In electronics, embedded software will account for a growing share of the value created for the customer. In the future, business will increasingly consist of data analysis that supports the customers’ business, processes and decision-making. Understanding the business environment and physical phenomena will remain highly important to ensure that analysis focuses on relevant topics, reaches the right conclusions and triggers the right actions.

“The technology already exists, and it is developing fast. The challenge is to identify viable business cases and business models. And further, the ability to create enough added value that can be shared by the service provider and the customer.”

Salkari mentions the Kemppi ARC System as an example: it collects data of a welding job and compares it against a welding procedure specification. If there are deviations, testing or corrective actions can focus on the appropriate section in the weld seam. The system also creates quality documentation during the process.

“The system pinpoints the location of the issue, eliminating the need to check thousands of metres of gas pipeline on the seabed, for example,” Salkari explains.

The solution has identified a customer need and immediately boosts productivity. 


3 THESES 

  • Pick an important customer need as the starting point.
  • Identify the technologies needed for the new solution. To pioneer the industry, pick ones your company is developing/focusing on.
  • Co-development is our strength: new business ecosystems create new opportunities.​


Improved eco-efficiency with IoT

“Think if you had the information to evaluate if a used component is worth its price, or if a product manufactured of used component is reliable. Gathering data over component life-cycle and analysing it is one way to enhance eco-efficiency. In addition, this would enable new business models, says Iiro Salkari, Vice President of Business Development at VTT.

“Machines and devices can contain data about their service history, for example. After decommissioning, it may be possible to reuse or recondition some components instead of recycling all of them as raw material,” Salkari says.

He points out that as resources are shrinking, taking advantage of digitalisation is a future trend, but its role in the circular economy requires some more thought.

“The industrial Internet allows delivering smart value to customers, increasing productivity and more efficient use of resources.”​


Finnish Industry Internet Forum (FIIF)​

Established in March 2014, FIIF is driven by companies that mostly operate in the manufacturing industry or the end-client value chain. 200 companies are already involved in its operation.

FIIF is active in several forums. The opportunities provided by digitalisation are evaluated, based on their ability to increase productivity and create new products and services, but also with consideration to the development of technologies and markets.

The vision of FIIF is to create an operating environment for industry that supports the use of the industrial Internet. Established technologies and available solutions are used, while supporting the creation of open interfaces and future technological development.​

 

 

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