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In an earlier blog post on Industrial Exchange, Tim Fabian of Bystronic, gave his opinion on what to look for in a technology vendor.  Tim covered some fundamental points around how to interpret a vendor’s marketing and sales messages and ways to figure out what really matters — finding a vendor that understands your business requirements and your metrics.  Selecting a vendor is an important process that requires thought and planning. A key component is to find a partner that has a technical approach which can help solve a business problem and/or sets your organization on a path towards digital transformation.  Starting or accelerating a digital transformation can seem like a daunting task for many businesses. You have to take into account business planning as well as the technical aspects of this undertaking. In this post I want to specifically speak to the technical side of the equation.

Tackling the mountain of technical needs that set a business on a path towards digital transformation is a monumental task.  As a technical decision maker or a line of business owner, it’s your job to evaluate and select a partner that can bring all of its knowledge and technical power to the table when implementing applications and solutions that drive your business forward on its journey.  At its core, the digital transformation begins with applications and solutions that drive your business forward. In order to deliver these applications and solutions, a platform will be the basis from which to build.

When selecting a platform, there are a  few things that should be considered. There are hundreds of platforms that claim to be digital transformation or IoT platforms in the market today.  However, not all of them bring complete functionality which enable you to build applications and solutions that can change and improve your business.

How should you navigate this?  There are a few things that you need to look for in a platform:

  • How easy is it for you to source data with the platform?
  • Does the platform allow for modeling or contextualizing the sourced data?
  • What type of analytics tools are contained with the platform?
  • How do you manage data and external system connectivity within the platform?
  • How does that platform enable the building of applications and through what types of devices?

A platform should deliver the following functionality:

  • Data Sourcing – Connect to data from anywhere using a variety of pre-built connectors – saving money, time and reducing risk of failure from custom-built connectivity solutions.
  • Data Contextualization – Gain richer, deeper insight into the performance of physical assets and digital systems by delivering not just centralized data, but data overlaid with actual business and process context.
  • Advanced Analytics/Machine Learning – Automate processes that extract value points from raw data – enabling better business decisions, faster.
  • Orchestration & Integration – Deliver meaningful information to business users and systems via process management and integration tools.  
  • Application Enablement – Create more apps for more people and deliver value faster by using integrated tools to build, deploy and maintain applications and even modern augmented/mixed reality experiences.

 

Having this functionality built around a common framework within a platform enables your business to deliver innovation – faster.  As you’re looking for technologies that will help you to embark on – or accelerate – a digital transformation journey, make sure you’re looking at fully-featured, fully-integrated technology platforms that provide the scale, speed and extensibility needed to accomplish your goals.