TechHub: Digital Disruption, IoT Expanding Digital Footprints and More

Digital Disruption Transcending Industry Borders

With the first quarter of 2017 coming to a close, it’s clear that the exponential growth within the technology industry is not slowing down.

25,000 new information-related jobs were created in February this year alone, according to Forbes.

As this tech push continues, we’re seeing more and more of the Digital Twin emerge as physical and digital worlds blend together.

The Digital Twin is the computerized companion of physical assets, using data sensors to show real-time data analytics.

The adoption of this trend is becoming increasingly popular as companies realize the countless benefits that the Industrial Internet of Things provides, and Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence become mainstream.

The biggest mistake companies are making right now is assuming these technologies won’t influence their business or impact their industry.

Industry 4.0 is real, and it’s here.

Smart technology is becoming integrated into every facet of life, resulting in customers having the ability to buy anything, anytime, anywhere.

“The convergence of cloud, mobile, social and data have ushered in a new wave of business models that will present unique challenges for various industries,” said Bob Weiler in Forbes.

With this new technology comes new challenges and questions emerging for industry leaders.

To stay ahead of the competition— and win— organizations will need partners who can provide a new level of knowledge and experience within the industry, according to Forbes.

Rethinking business models within critical industry operations is necessary to maximize performance.

The pace of change is accelerating fast. Organizations need to jump on board and embrace emerging digital technologies.

To learn the first three questions to ask in your digital transformation, join our webinar on Thursday, April 6, at 2:30 PM EST: Transform Your Operation: Vision Before Action.

Gray Matter Director of Professional Services John Benitz will demystify the beginning of the digital journey for you using his expertise on various transformations like the GE Brilliant Manufacturing process.

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Digital Transformation: Solving Big Manufacturing Problems

The top problems manufacturers are struggling with are visibility into operations, sharing information across one or multiple plants and allowing the right people to access the necessary data.

The solution? Digital transformation of plant operations.

“Digitizing production processes is more about running an efficient business than it is about jumping onto the next technology bandwagon,” said Industry Week.

Automating processes and storing big data on the cloud allows for a single connected platform with production visibility. It allows for a single-set of accurate data and increases the control plant operators need, according to Industry Week.

Instead of having information documented on manual paper processes like Excel spreadsheets, it can be accessed in real-time across one or multiple plants.

Access to product information, inventory, quality data and more increases the productivity and decreases downtime throughout the plant.

Automating the plant is also automating the communication, in turn freeing up people and resources. Instead of having to track down the necessary information and data, workers have instant access to it at a moment’s notice.

Going paperless and automating processes is a critical step within the industry, and lays the groundwork for future innovations.

Gray Matter has a new solution to help transform manual data entry processes into digital insights for manufacturers, utilities and energy companies.

Mobility@Work digitizes information that would have been buried in stacks of paper and puts data in a format that can be used for big picture analysis.

Hauling manifests, inspections, scheduling, incidents, inventory and time sheets are all transformed from piles on someone’s desk to an easy to read digital presentation.

“There are a lot of correlations you can make if you have the data working for you instead of in a stack of paper.” – Kemell Kassim, Gray Matter VP

Download the free white paper to learn how Gray Matter solved the manual data entry problem and helped save a leading energy company nearly $1 million in just the first year.

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IoT Devices Expanding Digital Footprints & Vulnerabilities

Security Week defines IoT devices as convenient.

They allow us to have access to data remotely and process it faster than ever.

However, with the convenience comes risk, and most people aren’t locking down their systems like they should be.

There are more avenues now than ever for cybercriminals to breach systems as more devices are connected and the digital footprint of plants are expanded.

The reality of IoT hacks is eminent. Recent research highlights how PLC controllers can be hacked and potentially taint water supply, according to Security Week. Not enough devices are accounted for, and too much personal and business data is intermingled.

The top recommendations to fix this are to get a clear policy in place, designate accountability and segment your network.

By having clear rules, placing risk and responsibility on people or teams and designating sections of your network help block the threat of cybercriminals. It makes finding an easy path into the network nonexistent.

IoT devices have a lot to offer in the world of operational technology and plant management, the risk just needs to be mitigated and vulnerabilities need to be tracked.

Gray Matter offers a vulnerability assessment for OT networks that creates a security baseline for each asset with an IP address.

In a recent interview with ARC Advisory Group, Gray Matter VP Kemell Kassim detailed recent cyber initiatives and ROI case studies.

Download the Q&A Here

TechHub: Digital Industrial Transformations, Cyber Security Strategy & More

Digital Transformations: Linear and Exponential

This week Forbes takes a look at two distinct types of digital disruption.

Two very different pictures are emerging in transformation stories. Forbes defines linear transformation as transformation within the business that improves operations, whereas exponential transformation transforms the business itself— potentially changing the core business model of the organization.

Linear is like an upgrade— helping companies do what they do better with new technology. Exponential shifts the whole business model of the company— finding new ways to give customers value.

They are both important. So, which one are you?

At the end of the article, Forbes concludes that linear isn’t enough because investors don’t reward it.

“The pace of technological innovation is increasing at a speed that necessitates exponential transformation,” according to Forbes.

One piece of advice from Forbes is to handle linear and exponential change separately. Keeping linear along the lines of project management and exponential in its own silo, away from political or turf wars.

The first step in both types of change is to get started.

Gray Matter’s Director of Professional Services John Benitz has led teams through the Brilliant Manufacturing process, and now he can help you.

Gray Matter is offering an exclusive webinar, where we’re demystifying the beginning of the journey for you.

Highlights from the webinar will include:

  • How to create a transformation vision
  • The critical first three data questions
  • Biggest mistakes companies make in the beginning
  • How the GE Transportation Brilliant Manufacturing project started
  • What phase two looks like

Join us for the first part in our webinar series, “Transform Your Operation: Vision before Action,” on April 6 at 2:30pm EST.

Register for the Webinar

Digital Day in Chicago: Start Your Digital Journey

On April 10, join Gray Matter and GE Digital to learn how the Industrial Internet of Things can unlock new possibilities for your company. Learn from companies like Johnson & Johnson about the road to digital, industrial transformation.

Vice President of Product Supply Strategy and Deployment Bart Alfons Talloen develops and deploys new and innovative processes at Johnson and Johnson.

He’ll be talking about systems and technologies to improve production supply during GE Digital Day. You’ll also learn what drives J&J to take action, their vision for Manufacturing of the Future and the challenges that need to be addressed to move forward.

The event will also highlight:

  • Learning the value of the digital industrial transformation
  • Connecting with industry thought leaders and peers
  • Discovering tools to accelerate your transformation journey
Learn More

GE Signs Plans for First Cyber Security Solution and Largest Gas Power Plant in Latin America

GE Power has signed a multiyear agreement for a new combined-cycle power plant in northeastern Brazil, which will meet 15 percent of the energy needs of northeastern Brazil, making it Latin America’s largest gas power plant.

The agreement will include operations, maintenance, repairs, digital solutions and the first order in Latin America for its OpShield cybersecurity solution.

Opshield is a security solution provided by WurldTech, a GE company, for industrial and process control environments. It is designed to help protect critical infrastructure and controls networks, and has the ability to inspect operational technology packets and data flows. This allows for a deep protocol inspection and more control for operators.

Wurldtech provides products, such as OpShield, and services that help customers design, test, certify, and secure their internet-connected devices, ICS and other critical controls, as well as their site operations.  Fortune 500 customers rely on Wurldtech to protect their brand reputation in oil & gas, transportation, utilities, healthcare and many other industries.

digital transformations

How IIoT is Revolutionizing Utilities

This post originally appeared in TechCrunch. 

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is creating huge opportunities in the water and wastewater industries, adding value to both the utility and the consumer. Connected machines are reshaping the way these utilities operate, allowing them to make smarter and more informed decisions.

By driving up innovation, water utilities are driving down cost. Here’s what they’re up to.

Treating water and wastewater requires chemical processes that can now be monitored more accurately using digital data collection.

These digital transformations are taking the guesswork out of chemical processing and allow utilities to optimize the amount of chlorine dollars spent to maintain safe levels — saving time, money and empowering operators to make fewer mistakes.

IIoT and Wastewater Clarification

Another IIoT development, a new SaaS application will calculate wastewater clarifier tank performance — providing quick analysis on a critical step in the wastewater process. The tool, called ClariFind, alerts utilities as they’re getting close to a failure before they experience it.

ClariFind will predict when sludge will overflow and be released. This kind of problem causes EPA issues and fines that can run in the millions of dollars. It will also be able to predict a thickening failure, which is when the effluent doesn’t settle correctly and creates a costly sludge blanket in the tank. ClariFind is just one part of a water operations suite of productivity enhancers — solutions as a service.

Predictive analytics are also solving monitoring problems that were not previously possible for utilities. For example, there are a large number of pumps that are commonly found within water facilities, and digitized data is making it possible for companies to accurately predict when these pumps might fail — ahead of time. It’s similar to the predictive analytic technology used in jet engine checks between airline flights.

This cloud-based application easily connects to pumps and helps companies avoid costly and inconvenient failures, allowing engineers to schedule controlled maintenance rather than reactive maintenance.

Concepts are in the works to apply this type of predictive technology to residential properties as well, in order to help home owners and property managers predict sump pump failures, for instance, before the basement floods. This technology will be a must-have asset for seasonal homes that don’t have inhabitants year-round. Utilities are leading the way in pilot stages for this type of residential technology.

Partnerships between technology companies and utility companies are facilitating innovation.

Safety procedures are also being monitored and enforced more closely by keeping track of them using digitized technology. In Florida, the water division of the Orlando Utilities Commission is using IIoT technology to remind employees of protocol procedures when dangerous chlorine leaks are detected. The safety procedure is sent to a worker’s device to be confirmed before access to the contaminated area is granted.

Both private companies and government agencies are utilizing IIoT technology to increase efficiency and profitability in water. GE has launched an industrial platform called Predix, a cloud-based platform as a service (PaaS) that enables asset performance management on an industrial scale. For water utilities, Predix will help utilities organize time-series data to monitor asset functionality.

The Environmental Protection Agency has technology that will be used to create a new way to digitally improve the monitoring of water age and water quality. This is a very important issue for consumers because when water ages and sits in a pipe for too long, water quality goes down — which was one part of the problem at play in the Flint water crisis. We expect an analogous approach to the way Google Maps handles traffic to represent the water age, enabling municipalities to monitor this more easily.

Running a water utility is becoming more like running a business.

Collaboration in Technology & Utilities

Utilities are no longer solely relying on customers for funding, they’re collaborating and looking at alternative revenue streams to supplement cost. While power utilities have been leading the way on alternative revenue streams, water utilities are now following suit.

The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water) has begun to commercialize their intellectual property, giving them a new revenue channel. For example, they are commercializing their water ammonia versus nitrate algorithm (which is something that keeps the right chemical balance needed for breaking down wastewater) and selling it to other treatment plants.

Partnerships between technology companies and utility companies are facilitating innovation and developing solutions to become cleaner and more efficient at a rapid pace. It truly is a transformative time in the industry, and the results couldn’t be more pure — better drinking water for everyone.

New technologies are giving people hope that they can achieve better standards of living and Gray Matter couldn’t be prouder to lead the way in the water evolution.

Download the white paper to read more on IoT in water, game-changing technology and real Gray Matter customer stories that increase efficiency and profitability in water.
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TechHub: Leading a Digital, Industrial Era and Cyber Security as a National Priority

GE’s 2016 Report and the industry potential for 2017 and onward

This week GE Digital released its 2016 Annual Report, highlighting details such as an 83-percent increase in GE cash from operating activities, amounting to $30 Billion, as well as an increase by 4-percent in Industrial Segment Revenues, amounting to over $113 Billion.

Other components to the report are a look into building jet engines, a letter to shareholders, testing a giant gas turbine and more.

The report featured a 3D interactive video, explaining additive manufacturing and the new technologies that help design 3D-printed products.

It allows you to explore pictures of the assembly of the largest jet engine designed for commercial use, as well as the most fuel-efficient one produced by GE.

3D-printed fuel nozzles and fan blades, electron beam melting and more are explored through this interactive demonstration of innovative and futuristic manufacturing in the “Factory of Tomorrow.”

Playing by the (cyber) rules

This week a new set of rules went into effect in New York requiring companies to put cyber defenses in place. It’s just the start of what will be a new era of rules and regulations about cyber security for industries. While this week’s rules are just for New York, they will have a big impact on companies outside of the state.

What are the rules?

Companies in the finance industry are now required to have a cyber-security plan in place.  According to Fortune, this includes network penetration testing, cyber audit trails and restricting access to customer data.  Firms will also need a senior security officer whose job is to submit an annual compliance certificate.

“The days of saying,’I have a great IT guy’ are now over,” said an accounting firm executive during the Fortune interview. Cyber security has become a boardroom issue.  

Who are the rules for?

The companies who need to comply are banking, insurance, or brokerage firms that use licenses to operate in New York. Fortune also reports it’s important to note the rules will affect third-party vendors.


The regulations don’t affect operational technology companies at this time, but the same scenario is playing out in the OT space. Cyber is no longer a technology issue, it’s an enterprise issue. We’ll keep you posted as the regulations grow.

Governors declare cyber security a national emergency, state emergency

“Cyber security is critical to each and every governor.”

Those were the words of Terry McAuliffe, Chairman of the National Governors Association, at the four-day-long meeting in Washington D.C. as he urged fellow governors to take cyber threat precautions and increase their states’ defenses.

Noting that his own state faced 86 million cyber attacks in 2016, according to The Hill, the Virginia governor said that cybersecurity is both a national and state issue.

The association has made cyber security a recent priority, holding its first regional summit on cyber security in October and setting up a cyber center to aid states with securing infrastructure.

McAuliffe noted there is still a drastic need of a strategic plan on how to tackle cyber security within states, as well as improving critical infrastructure vulnerabilities.

Learn how to create faster time to OT security and how to multiply your cyber team in the free webinar: Accelerate Time to OT protection on March 16.

Register for the Webinar

New computing system made from blockchain is less vulnerable to cyber attacks

This week, several corporate giants announced joining forces to create a new computing system based on the virtual currency network Ethereum.

Similar to Bitcoin, the technology platform will run on a custom-built blockchain, a very powerful shared global infrastructure that can help developers create markets, store registries of debts, move funds and more.

One notable aspect of the platform is the ability to create a tradeable digital token used as online currency that can either be set to a fixed amount or fluctuate depending on the programming, according to Ethereum, the Swiss nonprofit organization. The virtual currency is known as Ether within the network.

It can run smart contracts. It enables applications to run exactly as programmed without the possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference.

This is good news for cyber security experts.

According to the New York Times, the technology is reported as being harder to hack.

By adapting blockchain technology into their business models, large businesses are able to safely keep track of information such as stock and bond trading transactions.

The creation of the alliance shows the push forward among big companies to integrate technology into business plans and create streamlined databases with less back-office maintenance.

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