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5 predictions for 2021: rise of DataOps
Time to read: 7 minutes
Based on my conversations with more than 500 manufacturing companies and integrators over the past five years, I believe the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will continue to be a paramount part of the manufacturing landscape in 2021. The new year will bring a continued increase in digitalization across enterprises. While we have seen an increase in “digital transformation” initiatives among manufacturing companies for several years, the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges it created for production, safety, remote access, and supply chain have accelerated the urgency to make digitalization a reality. I also believe IIoT projects will continue to scale because of changes we are seeing in people, processes, and technology.
Here are five predictions for 2021.
1. Job titles and responsibilities will evolve. I believe there will be an Industry 4.0 task force in all major manufacturing organizations. The task force could look like an 8-10-person team comprised of IT managers and directors, operations technology (OT) managers, and controls and automation engineers. The more progressive and forward-thinking task forces will also have a DataOps engineer, data scientist, data architect, or information architect focused on DataOps. The task force or team may use “Innovation”, “Digitalization”, or “Smart” as part of their title set. These innovation teams will oversee creating an Industry 4.0 architecture that is reliable, scalable, and resilient with change. In many instances, the task force will leverage the help of a system integrator and/or technology consultant to help facilitate the process, make software recommendations, and provide best practices for systems architecture. In 2021, integrators will be the boots on the ground (and in the Cloud!) making Industry 4.0 a reality.
2. The role of the data scientist will become more crucial than ever before. Today, data scientists spend up to 80% of their time cleaning and preparing data. In 2021, data scientists will spend less time preparing data and more time analyzing and interpreting data thanks to better DataOps tools. HighByte Intelligence Hub is one such tool that can greatly reduce the time spent by data scientists preparing data vs making sense of that data, allowing this team to focus on their core initiatives of identifying trends, predicting outcomes, and optimizing the business.
3. A couple players will continue to dominate the Cloud market among industrial companies. The use of Microsoft Azure, AWS, and the various tools and applications that exist in their ecosystem will continue to increase in 2021. Many of our customers use HighByte Intelligence Hub to send to data to Microsoft Azure and Amazon IoT SiteWise. Creating visualizations with Microsoft Power BI seems to be a very common use case. I think it is fair to assume that Microsoft and Amazon are the biggest players with Google making some inroads. We should also see the rise of companies who are building and creating software that runs within Microsoft Azure and AWS, such as Digital Twin applications.
4. The adoption of hardware and software edge technologies will accelerate. There are many hardware manufacturers building equipment that can run edge applications. In 2021, I believe edge software will grow and manufacturing organizations will experiment more with these tools. One key function that will be important to run at the Edge is data modeling. The legacy method of data modeling was done at the application layer for each individual consuming application. Such a method is extremely time consuming, inefficient, and a drain on company resources. Data modeling with a tool like HighByte Intelligence Hub is done once at the Edge, next to the asset or process from which the data is being collected. This architecture allows for a quick, secure, and scalable method to model assets and processes in a manufacturing facility and will become more widely adopted in 2021.
5. As hub and spoke architectures begin to replace the traditional stack, industry will adopt a new vocabulary around DataOps and Unified Namespace (UNS). DataOps (data operations) is the orchestration of people, processes, and technology to deliver trusted, ready-to-use data to all who require it. We often use this term at HighByte to describe HighByte Intelligence Hub. One important element of DataOps technology is UNS, which is a dedicated abstraction layer that serves the purpose of merging, contextualizing, standardizing, and sending industrial data in the form of Data Models across the entire ecosystem. A UNS provides one naming convention for the entire enterprise. For example, Production Line XYZ, and the various machines within it are uniformly named and structured in the UNS for all of the connected IT systems on-premises and in the Cloud. The OT team oversees the UNS and creates transparency, clarity, scalability, and a secure mechanism of data transfer to the IT team. It reduces (or better yet eliminates) data preparation for the IT team so they can focus on their key goals for the business. HighByte Intelligence Hub offers a dedicated UNS abstraction layer for manufacturing organizations who need to streamline their complex data architectures while still benefiting from best-of-breed solutions. I believe the biggest trend we will see in 2021 is the global adoption of the UNS.
Great things are happening. People, new processes, and powerful technologies are making manufacturing more productive and improving the safety of those involved in producing those goods. It’s time to scale the IIoT beyond pilot projects to see real improvements and accelerate past your competitors. I believe 2021 will be a year like you have never seen before. The question is, are you ready?
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