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: Smart Manufacturing, Pittsburgh Executives Strengthen Local Economy & More

GrayMatter CEO Jim Gillespie on the Industrial IoT Channel Opportunity

GE’s Minds + Machines was in San Francisco last week, where GrayMatter CEO Jim Gillespie spoke to CRN on the big opportunities the Industrial IoT presents to industrial companies of all industries for digital transformation.

Putting the ‘Smart’ in Manufacturing

A variety of terms are used to describe the growing use of connected technologies and data analytics to bring a greater efficiency across the manufacturing industry— smart factory, smart manufacturing, manufacturing 4.0, brilliant factories, industry 4.0 and more.

Consumers are driving the wave of the 4th industrial revolution with their rising expectations of product choice, variation and speed.

In order to thrive in this new environment, manufacturers must master the collection, analysis and communication of data throughout their operations and supply chains to adapt to the new market, according to Industry Week.

Many of the tools and technologies that will play a large role in shaping the new world of manufacturing are already in use, although not necessarily on a large scale yet.

Industry Week lays out some of the most influential examples necessary for digital transformation:

Digital Twin

A digital image that provides a virtual footprint of a physical object or process from design and development through the end of the life cycle. It can be used to anticipate operational problems and improve performance.

3D Printing

Additive manufacturing that uses computer-generated 3D blueprints to enable rapid prototyping, create complex and varied product designs and greatly reduce material wastage.

Augmented Reality Devices

Augmented reality is a live direct or indirect view of a physical environment supplemented by computer sensory data such as images, sound or GPS data. AR devices improve the safety and comfort of shop-floor workers.

Cyber-Physical Systems

Intelligent components with computing and storage capabilities that can monitor factory processes to enable predictive maintenance and minimize plant downtime.

IoT-Enabled Supply Chains

These provide manufacturers with real-time knowledge of product/customer demand signals, helping factories empower their operators by providing them with all of the information necessary to take control of their assets.

Challenges that come along with digital transformation can be significant. The mass amounts of big data that these technologies generate can be of little value if the correct analytic techniques aren’t in place to create informed intelligent decision-making across the enterprise.

Want to know more?

Browse our white papers, case studies and webinars for detailed case studies of how GrayMatter has helped companies of all sizes and industries undergo digital transformations.

Check It Out

Top Executives Strengthen the Region, Contribute to its Economic Success in Pittsburgh

The Smart Business Network is hosting the 2017 Pittsburgh Smart 50 Awards on Thursday, Nov. 9 to honor people that are impacting the community with new ideas and contributing to city sustainability.

The oil and gas industry is rebounding, Harper’s Bazaar named Pittsburgh one of the Best Places to Travel in 2017 and researchers are leading the way with the development of autonomous vehicles, robotics and AI thanks to countless Pittsburgh innovators.

Jim Gillespie, CEO of GrayMatter

GrayMatter is proud to announce that CEO Jim Gillespie made the list for leading a company that is improving performance through technological innovation. GrayMatter helps serve critical industries — power, oil and gas, water and wastewater and manufacturing — that can’t afford to not be operational.

GrayMatter has created a smart sensor drinking fountain with DC Water, using real-time data analytics to monitor water quality and flow levels via the cloud, alerting DC Water when deterioration begins. Learn more about our smart fountains.

About more than just products and services, Smart 50 honors inclusive management styles, engaged corporate cultures and innovative approaches to leadership by savvy leaders who are writing exciting stories for their organizations’ futures.

TechHub: P&G Finishes Renewable Energy Plant, Pittsburgh Top Contender for Amazon HQ2 & more

Pittsburgh is emerging as a top contender for Amazon’s new headquarters, HQ2, that has cities across the US competing.

Areas of consideration include a 15-acre riverfront industrial property on the North Side near Rivers Casino, the 28-acre former Civic Arena site in the lower Hill District, the 195-acre World Trade Center site at Pittsburgh International Airport and various places such as Lawrenceville and Cranberry, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“It’s not us dictating sites. It’s us partnering with [Amazon] to help them achieve the maximum opportunity. We have a lot of good sites that could fit that bill,” said county Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

HQ2 could bring as many as 50,000 jobs over 10 to 15 years and $5 billion in investment to the city.

The requirements for the city Amazon is looking for is in a metro area with a population of more than 1 million people, with a stable and business-friendly environment with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent.

Pittsburgh is at an advantage due to the booming tech industry in recent years.

Retaining more tech talent than ever due to big tech firms moving offices here such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Uber, neighborhoods are transforming into younger and more diverse communities.

East Liberty is turning into a tech hub, according to the New York Times, with Google Pittsburgh’s 500 employees stationed there alongside Duolingo and start-up AlphaLab.

One of the main attractions? Oakland’s Carnegie Mellon University, which features a prominent school of computer science. Students are researching the field of artificial intelligence and machine-learning, robotics, programming and more — and they’re staying due to the huge employment opportunities.

Maya Design, a Pittsburgh based company, was recently hired to help craft a proposal to lure Amazon.

“I feel very optimistic about where things are headed right now,” said Fitzgerald.

P&G Finishes Renewable Energy Plant

After committing to reduce energy consumption and obtain 30% of its energy from renewable resources by 2020, Procter & Gamble announced its completion of their 50-megawatt biomass-fueled combined heat and power plant at one of its largest U.S. facilities, located in Georgia, according to Industry Week.

Steam from the plant will be used to power a generator at the Marine Corps Logistics Base nearby, helping them increase its energy security and utilize renewable sources.

source: P&G

In addition to P&G’s wind energy project in Texas, this plant doubles the company’s use of renewable energy, getting them two-thirds of the way to their goal.

“By powering our Bounty and Charmin plant with renewable energy, consumers can feel good about putting these products in their carts,” said Stefano Zenezini, P&G Vice President Product Supply and Sustainability. “We are using our innovative capabilities and those of our external partners to drive meaningful change that is good for the environment and good for business.”

Biomass is made up of wood, crops and more that would otherwise be burned or end up in landfills.

The plant’s fuel supply will come from local biomass that would otherwise be burned or sent to a landfill, including tree tops, limbs, branches and scrap wood, crop residuals such as pecan and peanut shells, and sawdust.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette People on the Move: People Doing Big Things in Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s “People on the Move” segment featured GrayMatter CEO Jim Gillespie as a newly appointed board member of the Carnegie Science Center in the nonprofit section.

The Carnegie Science Center provides valuable scientific experiences and engages in outreach programs to reach the local community, blending the line between learning and fun to inspire children to explore careers in STEM.

This comes right before the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Tech 50 awards, recognizing the most successful and innovative companies in the Pittsburgh area.

Companies range from health IT, life sciences, manufacturing, consumer products, consulting services and more.

GrayMatter is a finalist for Solution Provider of the Year, Innovative Technology, with CEO Jim Gillespie a finalist for CEO of the Year.

The award ceremony will be Thursday, October 12 at the Wyndham Grand Hotel.

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