Q&A: GrayMatter CEO Jim Gillespie on the Industrial IoT Opportunity

GrayMatter CEO Jim Gillespie sits down with CRN for a Q&A during GE’s Minds + Machines 2017 conference in San Francisco, detailing rapidly evolving interest in the Internet of Things over the past year and expected trends for 2018 among industrial customers.

Originally published in CRN

Q: Can you talk about GrayMatter, who you guys are?

GrayMatter’s goal is to transform operations and empower people. We work with some of the biggest companies in the world to transform their operations and help every operator be empowered to act like the best one.

We help them connect their critical assets and work smarter to make better decisions. We see them and think about helping them play Moneyball with their digital assets. A lot of our focus is on manufacturing, digital utilities, connected field services and with the industrial IoT.

Q: Talk about industrial IoT, what kind of services are you guys offering around that area?

The industrial IoT is a really big opportunity. We help people with assessments, we help people sort through what the strategies and opportunities can be and we look into putting a plan together, a strategy, quick proofs of concept and really start to generate information to make those assets better.

We help people identify assets that are breaking before they’re broke, alerting the field service team to get the right person with the right skill set with the right parts out to those assets at the right time.

Q: Looking forward to 2018, what kind of trends should we look out for around the industrial IoT space?

We’re really excited about it. At the main stage of Minds and Machines here today, they talked about how 85-percent of the clients know they need digital transformation, and only about 13-percent of the people are acting.

So there’s a huge opportunity to close the gap between aspirations and action. We get together with the clients, do a lot of co-innovation to solve through these issues and layout a road map, really helping them get to their aspirations around digital.

Another trend is this whole new world of connecting the products out there and closing the loop with the field service transformation. You could transform the service first and then connect the products, or vice versa – that wasn’t really possible five years ago, so the art of the possible is a trend.

Q: What kind of language do industrial customers use when they talk about IoT? Do they actually say ‘the Internet of Things?’

I think that lingo is interesting because we’ve done edge connectivity for 25 years but that term has only recently come into the OT space.

That was a networking term that is now used for OT connectivity.

We do see clients using industrial IoT and IoT lingo – some people in manufacturing think of the term ‘Industry 4.0’ as sort of a way to think about it.

In the utility space, people are thinking of digital utilities.

“We help them connect their critical assets and work smarter to make better decisions. We see them and think about helping them play Moneyball with their digital assets.”


Q: What’s causing the digital gap? What challenges are industrial customers facing?

I think the gap is made up of a lot of subparts – a skill gap, knowledge gap, people, culture, execution – it’s sort of a perfect storm of all those things.

We have a lot of manufacturing clients, so there’s a lot of legacy challenges that came before them – what’s legacy-installed, and getting it up into that digital world and integrating the supply chain. So an overall view of the supply chain is a big deal. And our second biggest client is digital utilities – we think a lot of wastewater and power are working through that as well.

Q: How are you first bringing up the discussion around IoT projects with industrial customers?

I think there’s two ways – when we work with someone like DC Water, we’re really a co-innovation partner with them, so if you asked them they’d say they come to us when they’re looking to solve a problem they couldn’t solve before, and they come to us to find out the art of the possible.

The other way is we think about what are the outcomes the customers are looking for, and what’s the best way to achieve those outcomes.

Q: What’s one use case where you’ve successfully deployed an IoT solution?

We did a connected smart water fountain [with DC Water in Washington, D.C.] – people think of that as an IoT application. That’s a good example because it combines a whole bunch of innovation. It’s IoT and the value of the network, so when you have multiple drops on the network you can now get like a Google map picture of the water quality instead of the traffic with blue, yellow and red signifying how the water quality is in different points of consumption.

At the same time, we’ve made the devices intelligent so they check their own quality, and they try to clean themselves and let someone know if they need help being cleaned. It’s kind of a confluence of all these things that weren’t possible coming together.

Q: What’s another use case where you’re working with GE to help a customer transform operations?

We’re working with GE Current – it’s energy savings combined with IoT, so the lights are intelligent.

The byproduct is the lights can tell you if your real estate is being used as efficiently as it could be, so it’s almost the practices we have in manufacturing of efficiency, but applied to conference rooms or gathering spaces at a university, or bank branches wondering about the pattern usages of customers – so we get new applications from IoT.

Energy savings pays for it but then you have the cool additional efficiencies

“85-percent of the clients know they need digital transformation, and only about 13-percent of the people are acting.”


Q: What kind of demand are you seeing around edge computing and analytics in the industrial market?

Edge is almost a continuum of possibilities, from server with tons of edge computing power and storage, down to a really simple not expensive lower intelligence to just bridge the data up to the cloud, so it depends on how much latency you can handle in an application, how much local intelligence needs to go on. For a manufacturing plant, it’s very important to close the loop locally, for other applications like lighting going up to the cloud, you don’t need as much at the edge.

It’s a conversation around the outcomes, so you really have to understand the right questions to ask and the right way to design a solution. We would weigh in with the client and design something that meets the outcomes they’re looking for. Almost everything has edge computing, and then it depends where the analytics need to happen, and there’s some sort of connectivity or either local buffering or on ramp to the cloud.

Q: What kind of security services do industrial customers want for their industrial control system and assets?

The two main areas of interest that clients are driving for us are an easier, better way to segment the networks, and protect the things that can’t be upgraded, so there’s a whole area around how do we harden, temper and better segment the industrial control systems.

And then number two is almost an ADT monitoring approach, how can I have something watch over those assets and keep a software watch on what’s going on, so segmentation and monitoring are two places where we’re seeing more interest than anywhere else. A third thing is customers might not know what they have or how vulnerable they are and want it assessed. We still find that here in 2017, it’s not surprising to us to find that.

Q: What kind of priority level are customers giving cyber security and IoT in their budgets?

There’s operational parameters, like downtime, there’s formulation theft possible, and it could be expensive to repair assets if they’re damaged by a bad actor.

I would say we’re starting to see a trend, more people are prioritizing it as strategy level now, and how do we go from where we are to where we’d like to be. We’re seeing more conversations at a strategic level, and that’s a high-level conversation we’re having much more frequently in 2017 than we did last year, and we’re super pleased with it.

TechHub: GE CEO on Digital Partners, Using Data You’re Already Collecting & More

GE CEO John Flannery: ‘Partners Are The Key Pillar Of Our Digital Strategy’

Originally published in CRN

Minds + Machines 2017 took place this week in San Francisco, revealing a ton of new digital software solutions to the world.

GE CEO John Flannery, while speaking to a crowd of systems integrators, resellers and ISVs, said that the Boston-based company wants to help customers work through an IT skills gap as they connect their machines, said CRN.

“Partners are the key pillar of our digital strategy going forward,” he said. “We’ll prioritize the market in two areas, with resources to focus heavily in verticals … like oil and gas, transportation, and mining … and we’ll continue to work to address adjacent markets as well, largely through our partners.”

According to a GE survey released on Tuesday, only 13 percent of executives have a mature digital industrial transformation plan in place. The rest of the industrial market customers are facing a critical skills shortage as they struggle to figure out how to tap into IT tools and drive value from their operations.

data

GrayMatter CEO Jim Gillespie giving a media interview during Minds + Machines.

That’s where partners come in, said Flannery: “Bridging this gap starts with small steps, that can help you move in the right direction,” he said. “We are ready and willing to be your partner.”

GE is helping its partners help their customers navigate real-time data, predictive analytics, and IoT through an array of resources, including blueprints, real use cases, and specific technologies.

These technologies include an array of new products and solutions the company has recently released, said Flannery – including Predix Studio, a solution that helps companies build and scale their industrial applications and simplify the development process.

James Gillespie, CEO of GrayMatter, a Pittsburgh-based solution provider and GE partner, said that he is seeing that “digital gap” in industrial companies who want a better digital strategy but don’t know where to start.

“That digital gap mirrors what we see when we’re talking to clients and prospects,” he said. “The challenge for customers is their level of knowledge, skills and culture … it’s sort of a perfect storm. More people are prioritizing it as a strategy now as they look ahead.”

Pulling Needles Out of Your Data Haystack

Steps to Use Data You’re Already Collecting

By Jim Gillespie, CEO of GrayMatter

The Impossible is Now Possible. Industry 4.0 is moving fast and I’d like to let you in on a few very valuable developments about the data you’ve been collecting. It can now help you make better decisions. You can talk to your industrial data and it’s talking back to you, letting you know what’s working inside your operation and what’s not.

It’s exciting for me to see GrayMatter and our partners innovating by taking the data you’ve been collecting through sensors on industrial equipment and applying artificial intelligence and machine learning in the cloud so you can find insights on performance. Then you know exactly where to make improvements.

You need a system to sort through the haystack of data and pull needles out to focus your subject matter experts. That’s what we can do now.

It all starts by framing up the action strategy in three parts.

Step One: Set Your Goals

Start at the end and work backwards.

What return on investment do you want to see? You don’t need all the data you think you need. What information will help you solve the problems you want to solve? What’s the path to getting there? Having this road map first is critical, because otherwise a lot of time and money can be wasted.

Step Two: Start Creating Digital Twins

You hear the term digital twin, but what does it really mean?

Simply put, creating a digital twin is the process of merging physical and digital worlds.

The process takes a physical machine and uses technology to get all the information about past states, present states and predictions. That information creates a digital model that’s alive – taking in a stream of data – using that to adjust so the model is personalized to be a precise representation of the asset.

The software version is used for what used to be a physical inspection – requiring people to be right next to the machine. The virtual version can be done from anywhere and at any time, expanding the value of those inspections and allowing them to have more of a real-time impact. It creates a constant inspection that allows the operators to predict failures sooner.

pulling needles out of data haystack

Digital Twin Value

The digital model of a machine, built and run in a virtual environment used to be available only to the biggest companies with the largest budgets. But the Industrial Internet and an explosion in sensor technology have lowered the cost and broadened the access beyond the elite.

People are not only connected to people, they’re connected to every kind of device at home and now work.

Manufacturers stand to win big from this. Factory floors are outfitted with tremendous amounts of sensors to collect data, but because that data has been locked up it hasn’t provided value.

The digital twin allows us to unlock that data and not just for one asset at a time. We can now model machines in groups – for example, a machine builder with thousands of machines installed across hundreds of customers – will now be able to operate best in class using digital twins.

There’s potential to unleash productivity and efficiencies like we’ve never seen before.

Step Three: Get Behavioral Information from Digital Twins

In order to move to more advanced use cases, such as adaptive diagnostics, condition-based maintenance or predictive failure, Industrial IoT systems need to know more than simply the current device state.

They need to know why. Knowing current device state only helps from a monitoring standpoint. While important, it’s really just the beginning of what we can expect out of IIoT systems. If we know why an asset exhibits a certain state, we can determine what conditions lead to that state and take proactive steps to prevent future occurrences. 

This new layer of getting insight through behavioral information allows you to ask for more. You can search your data and get answers back right away. It’s like an instant messenger for operational technology.

Step Four – Get Digital Twins to Interact

Achieving this may mean digital twins built using multiple discrete machine learning algorithms potentially spread across multiple IoT platforms, not simply relying on one. Eventually, we should expect that digital twins will interact with one another in virtual space.

data

Leap Ahead

If you’re short on time, staffing or budget – GrayMatter can get you up and running to achieve value quickly. You know you need an IoT strategy in the near future, but may not know how to go about it. Rather than trying to design, source and build it yourself we can put the strategy in place in days or weeks.

You also don’t have to do everything at once, you can start with a limited selection of assets and scale up or down as you learn performance and asset behaviors.

Our strategy is a Salesforce version of a remote monitoring and diagnostics center that you can buy and implement incrementally.

GrayMatter’s Digital Twin Strategy

We use data, predictive capabilities and machine learning to identify your best and worst performers in each asset group. Your operators are automatically alerted to the worst performers, then they use an intuitive web interface, to turn the worst into the best.

Continuous improvement becomes expected, simplified, and routine.

As your team builds new improvements or optimized settings, they can be scaled out, automatically, to every instance of a specific machine or piece of equipment.

You Don’t Need a Data Scientist

The complex algorithms that can leverage your data are pre-built so anyone can start creating the models and analytics to generate insights. One person no longer holds the keys to data, with this unique platform everyone gets a better understanding of your businesses processes, so you’re not focusing on the math to bring the insight, you’re focusing on creating better outcomes for your customers.

Think Big, Start Fast

You need to think big to truly transform your organization, but you also have to start acting on your data today.

We’re anxious to spread the word about how easy this is and to un-complicate it for you. Let me know if you’d like to discuss further. The case study is also available to read here:

Read the Case Study

New Ransomware Attack on Russia, Ukraine

A new strain of ransomware nicknamed “Bad Rabbit” has affected systems at three Russian websites, an airport in Ukraine and a subway system in Kiev, according to BBC.

However, despite bearing similarities to the WannaCry and Petya outbreaks earlier this year, it’s unknown how far this new malware will spread.

“In some of the companies, the work has been completely paralysed – servers and workstations are encrypted,” head of Russian cyber-security firm Group-IB, Ilya Sachkov, told the TASS news agency.

The Russian Central Bank said in a statement that it had recorded a BadRabbit attack on Russian financial institutions, but none were compromised. BadRabbit had targeted several of the top 20 Russian banks but failed.

A majority of the victims of the attack are located in Russia, with attacks also in Ukraine, Turkey and Germany.

TechHub: Putting the Industrial Internet Hype to Work, Smart Service Energy & More

Putting the Industrial Internet Hype to Work

The Industrial Internet of Things dominates manufacturing hype. Beyond this, certain manufacturers are putting powerful technologies to work – General Electric employees, for example, with their brilliant factories.

GE’s remanufacturing plant in Grove City, Pa., is a shining example of one of those brilliant factories, according to Industry Week.

Once a food packaging plant decades ago, the factory has transformed into a high-tech home for the remanufacture of diesel engines for locomotives.

“We’re taking digital technologies that people are really comfortable with outside of work and bringing them into work — whether that’s iPads, or phones, or just visual data,” said Jamie Miller, the former GE senior vice president and CEO of GE Transportation who was just promoted to CFO. “It was something that people could readily see because they use it outside of work.”

By doing so, it created a condition-based manufacturing system that allowed the workers to tailor what they do to rebuild engines in a faster, more productive manner, according to Miller.

Its brilliant factories  —  Grove City is one of less than a dozen around the world  —  revolve around lean manufacturing principles, additive manufacturing, advanced manufacturing technologies and digital manufacturing. Its industrial cloud platform, Predix, allows customers to replicate that on a smaller level, extending industrial automation to the cloud.

John Deere Investing in AI for Autonomous Farming

John Deere is buying a California artificial intelligence startup that makes machine learning tools for agriculture as part of their quest to automate farming, according to the Verge.

The cutting-edge machine vision tools help farmers scan fields, assess crops and get rid of weeds — all at the same time.

Source: Blue River Technology

A set of cameras fixed onto crop sprayers use deep learning to identify plants, hitting weeds with pesticide and crops with fertilizer, all of which can be customized by the farmer.

This can save up to 90% of the volume of chemicals being sprayed, while also reducing labor costs.

John Deere has been working on autonomous tractors before Tesla and Google even existed, according to the Verge, but its current most advanced vehicles only assist navigation.

The new technology creates a more efficient crop spraying system, allowing farmers to do more with less.

Smart Service Strategy: GE Oil  & Gas Case Study

In 2014, GE Oil & Gas management wanted to improve the revenue capacity of its field service operation, which they were confident could be accomplished by streamlining operations and increasing the billable utilization of their 575+ field service engineers (FSEs).

They knew visibility could be created with a smart service platform, switching over from most engagements being handled using paper forms or whichever process was customary within a particular geographical region.

“No one likes to change,” said GE Oil & Gas Information Management Subsea Services Project Manager Lydie Victoire. “But to increase profitability, we needed our people to adopt this new way of doing field service.”

smart service strategy

The solution was going digital, but in a completely customized way that allowed a set of field service functions for the initial project rollout to look a lot like the old paper-based process.

Going digital allowed them to:

“To optimize field efficiency, GE Oil & Gas needed more real-time visibility into its field service operation,” says GE Oil & Gas Executive Service Director Leigh Martin.

“We needed better data on the work activities of our field service engineers. And for that, we needed a field service platform.”

Download the case study to learn more about how GrayMatter innovates with partners on smart service strategies.

Get the Case Study

TechHub: New GE CEO Pushes for Digital Future, US Manufacturing Growing Fast & Cyber Security

Our Future is Digital

New General Electric CEO John Flannery put an end to the constant question, “where is the company headed?”

“I have a lot of decisions to make in my new role as CEO, but one decision is easy: GE is all in on digital,” said Flannery in a blog post on LinkedIn.

The digital age is bringing innovation and productivity for industries everywhere, allowing real, tangible outcomes for business.

Through scalability, installed base and industrial expertise, GE plans to be a major player in helping lead this transformation.

With a focus on their core verticals leveraging energy, oil and gas, aviation, healthcare, rail and mining, to help create a strong Predix ecosystem.

GE’s previous CEO Jeff Immelt at the 2016 Minds + Machines conference.

“The company I joined 30 years ago made machines that made the world work better,” said Flannery. “We are still that company, but the world has changed, and the industrial world is increasingly powered by digital applications.

We are part of this transformation, and we have a focused strategy that I believe is best for our customers and for GE.”

Join John Flannery and GrayMatter October 25 in San Francisco at Minds + Machines, an event that connects industrial thought leaders and showcases technology that helps solve the world’s biggest industrial IoT challenges.

Learn More About Minds + Machines

US Manufacturing Expands at Fastest Pace in 13 Years

American manufacturing expanded last month at the fastest pace in 13 years, according to Industry Week.

The strength of advances in the Institute for Supply Management’s gauges partly reflects impacts from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which forced shutdowns of refineries, chemical plants, retail establishments and car dealerships which were flooded in the storms and had merchandise destroyed.

However, the nation’s producers had already been on firmer footing because of improving global demand and an increase in US capital spending, according to Industry Week.

Manufacturing

Students visiting a PPG paint and coatings plant for Manufacturing Day 2017 in Delaware.

Orders are projected to remain strong in coming months as Manufacturing Day approaches.

Manufacturing Day is a national celebration of modern manufacturing, meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. Manufacturing Day occurs on the first Friday in October — this year’s falls on Oct. 6, 2017.

Statistical analysis of key event reporting suggests Manufacturing Day 2016 affected 595,341 participants, including 257,607 students.

Manufacturing Day is about celebrating manufacturing by providing an opportunity to focus collective attention on manufacturing, aiming to:

  • Empower manufacturers
  • Change public perceptions of manufacturing
  • Introduce people to manufacturing careers
  • Draw attention to the roles manufacturers play in their communities
  • Underscore the economic and social significance of manufacturing

Since 2012, MFG Day events has grown over 1,000%, with manufacturers in all 50 United States and Puerto Rico consistently participating.

Source: MFGDay.com

According to survey results by Deloitte from students that attended events in 2016:


89% of students were more aware of manufacturing jobs in their communities.

84% of students were more convinced that manufacturing provides careers that are interesting and rewarding.

64% of students were more motivated to pursue careers in manufacturing.

71% of students were more likely to tell friends, family, parents or colleagues about manufacturing after attending an event.

Every Third Computer Attacked in 2017 From Manufacturing Sector

In the first half of the year the manufacturing industry was the most susceptible to cyberthreats, with the industrial control systems computers of manufacturing companies accounting for almost one third of all attacks, according to Security Magazine.

The majority of the cyber threats were in manufacturing companies that produced various materials, equipments and goods. Other highly affected areas include engineering, education and food & beverage. Energy companies accounted for almost 5% of all attacks.

Special Agent Keith Mularski, Unit Chief of the FBI Cyber Initiative & Resource Fusion Unit, spoke at GrayMatter’s annual conference on industrial cyber security.

The main source of threats was the internet. Attempts to download malware or access malicious phishing web sources were blocked on over 20% of the ICS computers.

The reason this is such a high number is because of:

  • Interfaces between corporate and industrial networks
  • Availability of limited internet access from industrial networks
  • Connection of computers on industrial networks to the internet from operators’ mobile phones

Ransomware attacks on industrial companies tripled by June this year, with various large crime campaigns.

The WannaCry epidemic was one of the most notable, affecting 13.4% of all computers in the industrial infrastructure. ExPetr was a notorious encryption that followed, with 50% of the computers attacked in the manufacturing and oil & gas industries.

“In the first half of the year we’ve seen how weakly protected industrial systems are – pretty much all of the affected industrial computers were infected accidentally and as the result of attacks targeted initially at home users and corporate networks,” said Evgeny Goncharov, head of critical infrastructure defense department at Kaspersky Lab.

cyber

US pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. was affected by the ExPetya attacks earlier this year.

“In this sense, the WannaCry and ExPetr destructive ransomware attacks proved indicative, leading to the disruption of enterprise production cycles around the world, as well as logistical failures, and forced downtime in the work of medical institutions. The results of such attacks can provoke intruders into further actions. Since we are already late with preventive measures, companies should think about proactive protective measures now to avoid ‘firefighting’ in future.”

Billions of sensors are being rolled out rapidly as the Industrial Internet expands. The devices for operational technology are very different than those found on information technology networks and they need specialized technology to protect them. 

Download the GrayMatter Cyber Security Guide for Operational Technology to get a comprehensive understanding of security in the OT world including top vulnerabilities. The guide walks you through the first steps in knowing what’s on your network and has specific advice about the assessment process from our top cyber security consultants.

Download the Cyber Guide

Contact GrayMatter

Get in touch with us!