How to unlock the true value of your company's data
Data volumes are, quite obviously, growing exponentially. But as increasing amounts of information about customers, markets, and products/services engulfs the organisation, we need to look at data in a new way.
To achieve true digital transformation, the organisation needs to stop viewing information storage as an ever-expanding cost that needs to be contained, and realise its worth as a strategic asset that can be effectively leveraged for competitive advantage.
Historically, certain information would be stored in a specific warehouse, to be used for a specific purpose. For example, a bank would store a customer’s Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) documents for the express purpose of ensuring compliance fulfilment, and making sure the documents are available to the regulator upon request.
This kind of customer data would, for instance, remain totally isolated from other sets of data relating to the same customer – such as transactional activity, or the bank newsletters they’ve signed up to receive, or the banking channels they like to use most often.
When stored and used in this silo-based approach, the data sets have no opportunity to enrich each other, to help the organisation better understand the customer, or to ultimately contribute towards providing customers with a better experience.
Organisations should start by distinguishing the data that is key to their business, from the supporting data. Often, this first step is to consolidate data sets relating to customers, to achieve the so-called ‘single view of the customer’. From there, other data repositories and sources on the periphery of the organisation can be correlated to that core data, increasing its usefulness.
A great example of this approach to information assets is found in New York City, where the police force merges data from thousands of surveillance cameras, with information from radioactive sensors, 911 calls, license plate readers, and a number of public safety databases.
At the heart sits a set of transactional data – the historical crime records of the city – which acts as the digital reference point. The data from all the other sources is then correlated to, or fed into, this framework. This enables proactive policing, where police officers and police vehicles are dynamically allocated to different locations at certain times.
In the corporate environment, a cohesive approach to Big Data also enables what we refer to as ‘extensible collaboration’, where information is more easily shared with external parties, within and across value chains.
For example, the manufacturer of an aeroplane tail wing can embed sensors that record certain atmospheric information. This data can be on-sold to meteorological companies for use in weather forecasts, or to insurance companies for example – who can alert certain customers of an impending hailstorm in their area.
By connecting to each other via APIs and other forms of integration, companies as disparate as aircraft manufacturers, weather broadcasters, and household insurers can engage in new, “virtual” value chains.
In the automotive industry we are seeing the convergence of different data sets creating new value streams in the after-market space. For instance, tracking data that previously had the single purpose of vehicle security and recovery can be meshed together with on-board diagnostics information that mechanics would use. As these silos of information become unified, car manufacturers and other players in the ecosystem can understand driver behaviour and requirements in far greater detail.
With a modern approach to data management, organisations can benefit from the future of machine-generated data – where sensors from all kinds of industrial household items can transmit data back to central points.
For Big Data to unlock new opportunities in predictive analytics, or extensible collaboration, or a single view of the customer, the data management function needs to cater for the three essential demands from the business:
- Data must be accessible 24/7, virtually instantaneously
- Data needs to be exposed to new groups of users – both within and outside the organisation
- Data has to be made available on all kinds of devices – from mobile devices, to wearables, and beyond
In other words, the task that lies ahead involves condensing vast swathes of heavy data, and then – upon request – making it available in the form of a lightweight mobile app, for instance.
Framed in this way, this becomes a daunting task. Organisations are being asked to transform from their old approach (creating warehouses and silos of data), to a new approach that incorporates advanced data science techniques.
Those organisations that do this earliest, and do this best, will benefit from numerous competitive advantages. These benefits include stronger customer insights, improved customer service, enhanced processes and architectures, increased productivity, more reliable decision-making, and faster rates of innovation.
Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.