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OSIsoft 2021 Predictions: Top 5 Tech Trends that Will Impact the Industrial World

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

Top 5 Tech Trends that Will Impact the Industrial World in 2021

By Richard Beeson, OSIsoft Chief Technology Officer

It's no secret that the consumer and fintech markets drive and shape technology trends, while the industrial world can be slow to catch up and adopt. There are many internal and external reasons for this. For example, the more mature, heavy industrial markets such as oil & gas, mining and power have higher infrastructure costs, more complex environments and high capital costs that present barriers to entry for companies looking to innovate.

However, we've finally come to a crossroads where the benefits of digital transformations outweigh these factors. The worldwide pandemic is also pushing IT leaders toward digitalization as they're forced to provide solutions for their remote workforces.

The emerging technologies that experts were talking about a decade ago such as AI, IoT, 5G and cloud, are finally being utilized in the industrial world. That's because these technologies are more cost-effective to implement, have a strong ROI, and are easier to implement in enterprise environments. Given this, industrial organizations are starting to pay attention to how technology investments help their bottom line, as well as help their companies gain a competitive edge in the market.

Mordor Intelligence valued the digital transformation market at $342 billion in 2019, and expects it to reach $923 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 18% over the forecast period 2020 through 2025.

With a growing market and more opportunities, here's how I envision cloud solutions, 5G, remote operations and open source software will play a role in this transformation in 2021.

Cloud as an operating system will become standard.

We'll see a much greater prevalence of on-premise and edge cloud scale solutions (think cloud computing in an autonomous automobile,) where more low latency, high data value and extreme reliability demands require both the capability of a cloud system with the physical adjacency and reliability of control systems. Cloud management and operating systems have evolved from custom solutions running in the data centers of companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Google, to a tipping point where mass adoption (like DOS or Windows) for modern hardware platforms is possible because they can be managed by an internal IT team.

Drive toward autonomous and remote operations will accelerate.

The realities of 2020 have escalated the importance of effective autonomous and remote operations that can help move people out of harm's way. In 2021, we will see big investments and deployments in this aspect of digital transformation. The convergence of high-speed reliable communications across the globe with edge "cloud" compute power will transform the intelligence and response of operational systems, enabling autonomous operation of even the most complex system, while providing real-time visibility and insight for remote workers.

We won't see any major developments from 5G in Industry (yet).

Despite the hype and excitement of 5G, from a purely technological perspective, we won't see much 5G impact beyond the consumer market for a while based on the incremental way the technology is being rolled out.

However, Private 5G may join the Private LTE from players like Nokia to provide higher bandwidth private networking solutions for geo-disperse stationary assets like wind farms.

Open source software will continue to establish a foothold in 2021.

The impact of open source in manufacturing and operations has long been underestimated, but now more companies in spaces like energy and oil & gas are beginning to invest in value-added development by sponsoring, leveraging and extending open source solutions to solve problems specific to their industry and company that aren't currently being addressed by tech vendors. While most companies aren't interested in the burden of maintaining a professional product over time, they seem to be more willing to invest in filling in some of the gaps with open source technology to help them get the insights they need to innovate.

There will be a sustainability resurgence.

2020 has created a context that has encouraged the reframing of many existing patterns and assumptions around how societies and companies operate. Sustainability, which had significant corporate attention five to 10 years ago, is resurfacing as a stronger driving factor in business strategy and decisions. The impacts of climate change, the dramatic shifts in technology reshaping our energy generation and distribution systems and shifting political priorities will all accelerate and shape the conversation of responsible business and ways in which sustainable business operations will drive growth and value. Support for and promotion of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals will gain critical mass and will likely become a ticket for admission.

There's no question that industrial companies will continue to innovate and build a robust, more automated infrastructure via increased adoption of new technologies and solutions in 2021. Regardless of the technology employed, sourcing the right data is paramount to receiving an ROI and impacting the bottom line. 

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About the Author

Richard Beeson, OSIsoft CTO

richard beeson 

As chief technology officer of OSIsoft, Richard Beeson focuses on long-term strategic planning, business and technology alignment, strategic customer and partner relationships, alliances, and the research and innovation programs. Looking at today's challenges, Richard is exploring the benefits of employing operations information technology for societies, communities and industry to better understand and manage their relationship with resources, industries and commerce with the goal of helping these greater systems to thrive. Richard routinely engages with strategic customers and partners as well as with advisory boards across the business and technology community.

Richard joined OSIsoft in 1990 as a software engineer. He holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Published Wednesday, October 21, 2020 7:34 AM by David Marshall
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