By Joseph Waring

Industrial firms collaborate to ride second internet wave

Industrial companies are facing an entirely new set of challenges as they move to digitise and transform their businesses and adopt new technologies to streamline operations.

Dirk Slama, chairman of the Industrial Internet Consortium, said the industrial sector has encountered the opportunities and challenges of digitisation later than companies in media and banking, for example.

In the second wave of the internet - the industrial wave - industry is now going through a transformation process.

Slama was a panellist on a roundtable, held here in Barcelona, of the Global Industries Organisation (GIO), a cross-industry group with 20 members working to accelerate digitisation and transformation across various sectors,

“The first wave of the internet took 25 years to transform the initial industries. I think we are in year five of a 25-year transformation of the industry. Everyone clearly sees the opportunities, but there are also many challenges and obstacles, which starts with fundamental questions about business models,” he said.

When you’ve been an asset-intensive company focussed on improving the quality of the physical product and the manufacturing processes, Slama said it’s difficult to completely rethink what you’re doing and look at new business models. Once you understand the business models you want to implement, you need a lot of technologies, like cloud, blockchain and AI, he added.

Nik Willetts, president and CEO of TM Forum and chair of GIO, said the next wave of digitisation is much more complex than the first, because the industries being impacted are much more complex.

“Understanding the end-to-end challenges around everything from security to the intelligence that is required is important for working together across traditional industries.”

Willetts noted that one of the GIO’s objectives is to clarify the specific business requirements of different industries and communicate those to telcos so they can develop relevant network and operational solutions.