Kathy Gibson reports from CeBit in Hannover – Software AG has entered the Internet of Things (IoT) fray with an IoT platform that aims to integrate and consolidate offerings from vendors, ISVs and solution providers to aid enterprises in realising IoT value.
Karl-Heinz Streibich, CEO of Software AG, points out that digital disruption is happening, driven by software developments – and it has the effect of separating companies from their customers.
“This means platforms are the new power in the market. They are the disrupters for any digital business or industry.”
Established companies face a number of challenges, he says.
For retail companies these include the move to customer-centric supply chains, which means the platform effectively becomes the retailer.
In the pharmaceutical industry, a move to personalised medicine means that the health card becomes the medical service platform.
In production, individualised production leads to the demand for smart products, and an increasing need for predictive solutions.
In insurance the platform has become the broker, with personalised insurance contracts designed for actual use cases.
In mobility, connected cars will soon be a reality, and the platform will become the broker.
In fact, every industry and every company will have to find a digital framework within which it will develop its own solutions, Streibich says.
“Every company has to become a software–driven company in order to innovate and succeed,” he adds. They will have to shift from running databases and applications, to integration, new processes, big data and the Internet of Things.
“IoT is the technology driver going forward in the IT industry,” Streibich says. “It started five years ago with big data, but IoT is now about the individualisation of business.”
This creates a new digital dilemma for established companies, he explains.
Because the new digital business models are written in software, this means that software has to become the prime source of innovation, regardless of which industry a company operates in.
Digital companies have a flexible IT architecture, and this is the biggest obstacle for existing companies, operating their traditional IT systems. Instead, they need to develop a microservice-oriented architecture that will let them be fast and flexible in a digital world.
Within established companies, IT has traditionally focused on administration and standardisation instead of on innovation, Streibich says. Today, however, companies must aim to differentiate themselves through their digital capabilities. This means that classic IT has to look at embedded software to drive digitalisation.
Middleware has helped to give classic IT applications a window into the digital world, and this needs to be extended to an open IT framework that combines all digital applications with any digital service, Streibich explains.
For established companies to move into the digital world, Streibich says that CEOs and line of business manages need to think software first. They also need to make the products they produce smart, as they will supply the data for new business models.
The IT architecture needs to be extended beyond the classic environment, to implement microservices.
And organisations need to implement an open IoT framework that will give them flexibility and allow them to differentiate themselves by creating their own digital services.
Organisations will have to rebuild their IT know-how to go beyond IT administration to embedding software.
Software AG is well positioned to offer the IoT framework, he adds. The company started life 46 years ago as a database company and has always been data-centric.
Dr Wolfram Jost, chief technology officer of Software AG, explains that an IoT platform is a set of software technologies that monitor, control, optimise and manage various endpoints.
“Any IoT solution starts with a device that is connected and integrated with back end system,” he says. “The data is then analysed and visualised to come up with a decision which precipitates an action.”
But the market for IoT is extremely crowded, Jost points out. there are more than 500 companies currently offering solutions, and this number will only grow.
“We don’t believe there is any one dominant player in this market. We won’t see what happened in ERP, the office space or the database market. IoT is very fragmented.”
At the same time, says Jost, customers are keen to avoid vendor lock-in as this would be limiting for their future growth.
Software AG’s answer to his conundrum is its Digital Business Platform, offering the technology systems to support IoT. These are integration, analysis, an IoT hub, and modelling and portfolio management.
Importantly, while Software AG provides the framework, it is open so components from other vendors can be integrated.
“No-one can offer end-to-end IoT,” Jost says. “It is all about taking components fro various vendors and making them work together. It is the solutions that companies develop from this that will be their differentiation.”
Software AG’s IoT framework is available today and has already been used in some customer sites. It will also be made available as a public cloud service and can be used in a hybrid cloud environment as well.
Supporting European industry
Software AG has announced a new initiative aimed at developing European solutions for the industrial Internet.
The “Made in Digital Germany” initiative aims to support European manufacturing with solutions designed in Europe and catering to their specific needs.
Streibich comments: “We don’t need to copy Silicon Valley. We already have a unique economic asset: our combined extensive manufacturing bases, engineer educational system and the Mittelstand SME network – it is this asset which we must digitally transform to remain in the forefront of global industrial development.
“This can only be achieved through co-innovation: with Europe’s leading software industry and industrial base working together hand-in-hand to address today’s global digital services markets to the benefit of all stakeholders.”
Partnering for IoT
Software AG has partnered with Huawei to deliver a cloud-based IoT platform.
Huawei’s hardware and software offerings for cloud and edge computing, together with its open IoT platform and network infrastructure, combine Software AG’s streaming analytics, hybrid enterprise integration and predictive analytics to help customers to adopt and deploy a full IoT infrastructure from the cloud to the edge.
“The Internet of things, whether through smart industries, smart cities, smart energy and connected cars will impact society and the global economy on a massive scale. It will be truly game changing for every enterprise,” says Eric Duffaut, chief customer officer of Software AG.
“The power and breadth of Huawei’s Cloud and IoT platforms combined with the software based intelligence and integration capabilities of Software AG’s Digital Business Platform will allow any enterprise to harness the IoT and develop global, innovative digital product or services.”
Vincent Peng, president of Huawei Western Europe, comments: “With Software AG’s capabilities and solutions, we are able to maximise the value of IoT and make it accessible to our customers wherever required. It fits seamlessly into our vision.
“This cooperation continues to reflect our ongoing commitment to building cloud ecosystems with partners, and helping our European customers achieve greater business success.”