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December 19, 2019 Jeremy Boren

Happy Holidays from GrayMatter, 2019’s Top OT News, The iPhone Decade

2019 Was Off the Charts

Thanks to our customers, partners and employees, GrayMatter is closing out a fantastic 2019!

If you’ve followed us on LinkedIn (give us a follow!) or kept up with TechHub, you know we’ve been growing fast and trying new things in 2019 to help companies through their digital transformation journeys.

GrayMatter CEO Jim Gillespie accepts the Solutions Provider of the Year award.

GrayMatter CEO Jim Gillespie was thrilled to accept the Solutions Provider of the Year award for the second year in a row from the Pittsburgh Technology Council. Jim also joined the board of directors of the Pittsburgh Tech Council, which does an amazing job of growing Pittsburgh’s technology ecosystem of companies, nonprofits and universities.

We also made Inc. Magazine’s list of the 5000 fastest-growing companies in the U.S. for the fourth straight year — an honor that demonstrates GrayMatter’s rapid growth across North America.

And in late July 2019, GrayMatter hosted the largest Industrial Intelligence Conference in its history. We featured keynote speakers from Amazon, Smucker’s, Kimberly-Clark, PPG and many others. Thank you to everyone who traveled to be at the event.

Transform 2019

We’re looking forward to even better, bigger events ahead in 2020 as we work to host more collaborative, learning opportunities for OT industry professionals. We’re particularly interested in creating learning opportunities on site for our customers (read about our recent work at Bonita Springs Utilities), so if you’d like to learn more about that, let us know.

Thanks, everyone, for a great 2020. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

GrayMatter’s Top OT Industry News from 2019

We love data, so we took a look at some of GrayMatter’s top-performing posts from 2019 to share what drew the most interest from the past year.

Our emPOWERUP Podcast episode that focused on a Harvard Business School study was our top episode of the year. In case you missed it, we spoke with the study’s author about how publicly traded, non-technology companies (manufacturers were a big one) that announced plans to take on a digital transformation saw an uptick in their stock market performance.

The study’s authors used keywords like digitization, big data and digital transformation that were found in earnings call transcripts to determine which companies had “announced” to investors that they were investing in a digital strategy. Then they followed the stock performance year-after-year. It’s a fascinating topic and worth checking out.

The full study is “Going Digital: Implications for Firm Value and Performance.” It’s featured in the Harvard Business Review.

Top TechHubs of 2019

Cybersecurity was such an important industry topic in 2019. Ransomware was on everyone’s mind. Corporations, hospitals, libraries and municipalities struggled to deal with ransomware attacks. Some paid the ransom (against prevailing advice from experts), and others stood firm and rebuilt their systems from scratch.

•   Ransomware attack forces Norsk Hydro to use pen & paper, AI benchmarks + more

Boeing started the year strong, with analysts predicting a record year. Of course, it hasn’t worked out that way as the company works to deal with safety concerns surrounding the 737 Max and looks ahead to launching its first CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.

•   The Polar Vortex Hits the US, Boeing’s Sales Soar, How to Stop Robocalls & More

And just last week, Alcoa announced the first commercial production of a pollution-free aluminum production process that Apple plans to use in products like the iPhone, which has an aluminum case. GE Digital also released Historian 8.0 with a set of exciting new features and intuitive visualizations for building a digital plant solution.

•   Alcoa’s pollution-free aluminum, GE Digital releases Historian 8.0 & more

Top ProjectX: A Solution to Sniff out Rogue WiFI Signals on the Plant Floor

A customer sought GrayMatter’s help to detect unauthorized WiFi hotspots that contractors and other visitors routinely used to gain quick Internet access while they work on a plant floor.

Unfortunately, every smartphone hotspot represents a potential cybersecurity breach that a cybercriminal could use to exploit sensitive data or launch a malware attack.

Read about the solution, which is part of our ProjectX program, and watch our video discussion with GrayMatter cybersecurity expert Tom Walker.

  Top 3 Customer Case Studies

These were among our most-requested customer case studies and guides in 2019. Cybersecurity, again, was of major interest, but so too were digital solutions for water utilities, manufacturers and oil and gas service providers.

•    Ransomware Rising: Ransomware for Utilities

Cybercriminals seek out potentially vulnerable systems operated by organizations with deep pockets and a high public profile. This makes water utilities an enticing target because utilities often rely on taxpayer funding and aging network infrastructure to meet demanding safety, environmental and performance regulations.

•    Digitizing Water Management: Introducing WaterForce from Keystone Clearwater Solutions

When a water pump failure shuts down production at a shale oil and gas site, workers might spend hours searching for and repairing the problem — a delay that can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars.

•   Cybersecurity for Operational Technology: A Guide

Operational technology cybersecurity is a whole other level. You are securing the critical systems that clean water, make food & produce energy

Could You Live Like It’s 2010 Without Your Smartphone?

Some of you, probably many of you, remember life before Apple’s iPhone and its smartphone counterparts were everywhere.

The iPhone became ubiquitous in roughly 2010, three years after its debut in 2007.

I distinctly remember navigating Long Island, N.Y., as a newspaper intern in the summer of 2003 with a Dell Axim PDA that had a GPS antenna plugged into the top port.

Dell.com

You can still find Dell Axims, like the one I had, for about $85 on eBay, which seems steep given today’s options. I remember paying to download updated GPS maps that would allow the PDA to navigate in a sort of turn-by-turn fashion via my PDA. I’m pretty sure I had to download the maps county-by-county. Nassau County was first, then I shelled out the extra money for Suffolk County.

What a distant world that was.

I bring up this story because Wall Street Journal columnist Joanna Stern wrote about the iPhone’s first decade of real, widespread adoption.

She tried to live for a day without the all-in-one convenience of an iPhone in, where else, Hell, Michigan. It’s worth a read, as she struggles to navigate a new area but also enjoys a strange sense of being in more control, not less.

The iPhone has changed the world for consumers, but it has also changed the way we think about industrial operations.

GrayMatter Vice President and Co-Founder Carson Drake has talked about how iPhone/smartphone culture changed the way we expect to view and access data — even on the plant floor.

Operators want to view real-time data. They want it in an intuitive format. And they want it on a tablet or smart phone. They want the Industrial Intelligence version of the iPhone.

Carson and I talked about how the iPhone has changed the expectations for data visualization in Episode 4 of GrayMatter’s emPOWERUP Podcast, which is celebrating its first birthday.

If you have topics you think we should cover in the podcast in 2020, let us know at empowerup (AT) graymattersystems (DOT) com. You can find my talk with Carson below.

Jeremy Boren

Jeremy is GrayMatter's Brand Manager and the author of TechHub and the emPOWERUP Podcast. He writes about digital solutions, trends and culture in the world of operational technology. Jeremy's background is in daily journalism. He has a passion for storytelling and enjoys highlighting the technologies and professionals taking on complex challenges in manufacturing, energy, cybersecurity and infrastructure.