How connected data ecosystems are unlocking new business growth

Posted: February 19, 2024

Cloud data ecosystems are the way forward for both industrial enterprises and the technology providers that support them, says Rónán de Hooge, Executive Vice President, Cloud Platform Business, AVEVA

Imagine an industrial environment where machines anticipate their own maintenance needs, supply chains innovate in response to real-time demand and resource shifts and industries operate with unparalleled efficiency and minimal waste—all orchestrated by human experts.

That vision is fast becoming a reality as industries organize in response to the evolving business landscape. As artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) continue to evolve, businesses are finding ways to strategically harness these technologies to operate more efficiently. By integrating AI and ML into sustainable operating models, businesses can not only improve operational efficiency and resilience, but reduce their environmental impact as well.

In addition to new technologies, disrupted supply chains, resource scarcity, changing customer needs and increasing regulation pose new and evolving challenges for industry.

Success in this challenging environment depends on collaboration. When suppliers, distributors and other partners share business information, insights and best practices, they create combined value that exceeds what each can achieve individually.

Businesses aren’t just connected to each other—they're interdependent. This interdependence is crucial for businesses to remain competitive in today’s dynamic marketplace, and just as crucial for achieving long-term net-zero ambitions.    

Data ecosystem

Connected data ecosystems

In industry and elsewhere, connected data ecosystems represent the next wave of digital transformation. These ecosystems use a trusted network of technologies to connect people with data.

With industrial data ecosystems, companies gain access to new capabilities or expertise they may not have in-house. More importantly, a unified view across the value chain enables companies to discover crucial new insights and leverage broader expertise that enhance their abilities in a changing business environment.

When this industrial intelligence is unified and shared in the cloud, every value chain participant— including partners, regulators and customers—can visualize routes to better efficiency, productivity and sustainability.

Data is the bedrock of growth for the industrial enterprise

At the core of this collaboration is data. Industrial organizations now collect data in greater quantities and from a wider variety of sources than ever before. Too often, however, this strategic asset remains siloed at the point of collection because of technology, security and governance barriers, rendering it inaccessible to even internal departments.

Sharing data across an organization—as well as with external partners—gives every player within the ecosystem a contextual understanding of how to optimize their role in the value chain.

Industrial organizations are therefore catalyzing digital transformation to create seamless collaboration across the lifecycle and unlock greater value and sustainability gains for all stakeholders.

Many players around the world are already leveraging these platform services to drive positive outcomes on several fronts:

  • Drive efficiency through collaboration: Sharing data from a single source of truth empowers experts—regardless of location or technical background—to make better decisions faster.
  • Achieve environmental, social and governance (ESG) targets: Viewing unified value-chain data in context helps users discover where sustainability action can have the greatest impact— such as greater circularity, improved efficiency, reduced emissions and better regulatory compliance.
  • Enhance individual and joint innovation: The competitive advantages gained from secure data-sharing communities strengthen trusted supplier and partner relationships. By adding context to real-time data, companies can expedite R&D, innovate together and mutually enhance competitive advantages.
  • Improve decision-making: Seamlessly connecting diverse data sources and extensible applications within an ecosystem gives businesses richer and more complete insights that can reduce operational costs and improve revenue.
  • Create opportunities for faster revenue: An industrial data ecosystem delivers value within hours instead of days or weeks. Accordingly, companies can achieve faster adoption of digital tools, expand their market reach, and leverage economies of scale—all while reducing costs through lower software investments up front and lower ongoing IT and maintenance expenses.
  • Optimize resources: Cloud data-sharing helps companies reduce their carbon footprint by making it easier to identify inefficiencies, optimize resource usage and use renewable resources to power operations.

The advantages of connected data ecosystems for technology companies

This kind of ecosystem thinking also supports innovation for technology providers and developer partners.

Such digital platforms bring together a multitude of complementary solutions and applications that can be tailored to specific business needs. At their core, such an industry data community is a network of interconnected software applications, services, and platforms that integrate seamlessly to enhance process efficiencies while uncovering new value for end customers.

With an open and neutral platform, partners can expedite the development of emerging technologies and services, driving agility and value for customers. The ability to securely share specific data streams within a standardized format and with granular control supports the development of new applications and value-added services—without compromising intellectual property.

This adaptability is a game-changer at a time of increasing cross-domain innovation, when developments in one field, such as AI, can support progress in another area. Connected data ecosystems provide the advantages developers need in an ever-evolving industrial landscape.

Discover crucial New insights

Dominion Energy

Dominion Energy used the cloud to empower data collection and share real-time renewable energy data. Dominion could then share renewable power data insights with customers across 16 states 50% faster than before and supprt its ESG pledges across the USA.    

Industry appetite and the flywheel effect

Different industrial sectors have either already added to, or are accelerating, their investment in connected data ecosystems. The vast majority (90%) of respondents in IDC’s 2023 Future of Industry Ecosystems global survey said they plan to maintain or accelerate their investment in such data ecosystems this year and next. The survey interviewed 1,288 C-suite and business line executives and decision-makers across energy, construction, process manufacturing, government and other industries around the world. Principal motivations for the desire to invest in data ecosystems included increasing business agility, better process automation, improved systems integration, and increased data-sharing with partners, including for ESG reasons.

Overall, the appeal of the connected data ecosystem could lie in its ability to accelerate the flywheel effect, a concept familiar to engineers. With the flywheel effect, small wins accumulate over time to create a momentum that keeps the business growing.

Likewise, within the kind of integrated data community described here, every player can recalibrate for resilience in real time, driving incremental gains for all stakeholders on a continuous basis.

Whether for industrial enterprises, technology companies, or developers, the whole then truly becomes worth more than the sum of its parts.

Connected data ecosystems allow us to harness the power and scope of AI and greater automation to operate more efficiently. As more advanced technologies pave the way for increased collaboration—within and between organizations, as well as between humans and machines—a sustainable future is more than possible. It’s inevitable.  

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