Facilitating Industry 4.0: What's the role of industrial data platforms?

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Data-driven technologies, and their applications, are producing and processing data at a pace unimaginable a few years ago! Companies have started to leverage data-technologies to innovate by inventing new products and services. Data has become a product on its own and can be transferred and traded in newly emerged “data marketplaces.” Industrial data platforms are virtual environments facilitating the exchange and connection of data between different organizations. They are key facilitators in this emerging data marketplace.

Industrial data platforms are a key enabler of industry 4.0 or the 4th industrial revolution. A survey by McKinsey showed that 90% of 300 experts interviewed from US, German and Japanese companies believe that Industry 4.0 will improve their competitiveness and operational effectiveness.

How are industrial data platforms created?

Establishing a trusted network that can transfer, access, and use data in a secure manner is the basis of industrial data platforms. Industrial data platforms perform several services beyond providing the data exchange between data providers and users such as:
· Regulating data governance, and providing safeguarding by granting data owners the exclusive right to the terms and conditions of data provided.
· Performing brokerage services for data providers and users to offer and request data. In this respect industrial data platforms keep records of data transactions, perform search tasks and facilitate ad-hoc agreements.
· Through a series of shared Application Programme Interfaces (APIs), data platform participants may obtain and develop software to produce data-driven products and services

How policy helped shaped the emergence of Industrial Data Platforms?

The emergence of industrial data platforms could not have happened without the intervention of regional and national initiatives launched by EU member states to help digitise European industry. These initiatives vary according to method, but are united in the objective of setting and implementing an industry digitisation programme to be carried out by concrete technology transfer projects over the medium to long term.

• Germany’s “Industrie 4.0” was established through dialogue with businesses and aimed to promote structural digital change and develop a consistent understanding of industrial digitization
• France’s “Industrie du Futur” focused particular attention on SMEs and brought together industrial businesses, associations and local authorities to develop regional digital platforms that promoted digitalization in the manufacturing industry.
• UK’s “Catapult (High Value Manufacturing)” provided a network of 7 centres sponsored by the UK government offering world-class equipment, expertise, research and collaborative opportunities to manufacturing businesses of all sizes and sectors.
• Netherland’s “Smart Industry” is a hybrid government and industry led initiative that set an agenda and a “technology pact” among industry actors and academia to make the industry more competitive.
• Spain’s “Industria Connectada” is a collaboration between government ministries and some Spain’s largest private companies, establishing action lines to bring about Spain’s industrial transformation.

How impactful will industrial data platforms become?

The process of transformation to industry 4.0 is still in its early stages; only a minority of technology suppliers and manufacturers have an Industry 4.0 strategy. Though this is expected to change: by 2020 PwC expects 85% of companies in Germany will have implemented Industry 4.0 strategies. Forecasts by the IDC confirm a fast trend of growth on technology investments in manufacturing. Industrial data platforms are rapidly gaining momentum in Europe and in the rest of the industrialized world.

In establishing a trusted network for data access, transfer and usage, they are opening up new business ecosystems and disrupting traditional value- and supply-chains by uniting a wide array of disparate players from a multitude of sectors. They represent one of the key enablers of digital transformation an essential element for the ongoing industry digitization.

What can be recommended based on findings and trends for Industrial data platforms?

If digital transformation and the digitization of the industry appears today as an unrelenting process, policy makers at national and European level should devote their efforts to help the European industry and, in particular, its core layer of SMEs, grasping the full benefits of this phenomenon.

Read more on industrial data platforms and take a look at 3 case studies of multi-billion euro platforms in our report: http://bit.ly/IndustrialData

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About the study:

The European Data Market study aims to define, assess and measure the European data economy, supporting the achievement of the Data Value Chain policy of the European Commission. This strategy is focused on developing a vibrant and innovative data ecosystem of stakeholders driving the growth of this innovative market in Europe. The main results of this study will feed into the annual reviews of the Digital Agenda Scoreboard providing valuable data and information.