On the 12th Day of Christmas, My Boss Gave to Me: 12 Industrial Applications... 11 Books on Blockchain
... 10 Seats of Tableau
... 9 AGVs
... 8 One-eyed Wearables
... 
7 Dumb Drones
... 6 Senseless Sensors
... 5 RFID Tags
...
 4 Data Science Boot Camp Graduates
... 3 Used 3D Printers
... 2 Mindless Co-bots
... And Another Vendor Pitching IIoT

Wow. You really did save the best for last. We’ve been hearing about these all year, but they now seem ready for prime time. Applications that make sense of all the other 11 days? How novel. But some of us are still asking what is an industrial application? Let’s discuss.

We all now know that with decent wi-fi and, soon, 5G, mobile can go anywhere in your operations. Where industrial applications used to stop at the office just off the shop floor, it now can cozy up to any machine. This means that we can now take truly enterprise class software anywhere it needs to be. That would be the platforms Connected Worker, PLM, BPM, and arguably RPA. The platforms are beginning to help companies stitch together the most useful solutions of the last 11 days into custom orchestras of technology that can solve specific challenges. While great, this is still too slow to digitize the industrial world fast enough. What’s next is industrial applications.

When you think about the apps store, really gifted entrepreneurs study specific niche ideas from the incredibly useful to the obscure. The ones that nail it share a heritage of really studying and nailing their craft.

In B2B, it is about nailing the business problem. What apps will do for us is to create units of real value by thoroughly studying and nailing a business problem. Imagine in you will, an app called Pit Crew, that focuses on dramatically reducing changeover times by isolating what work can be done before a changeover, what specifically needs to happen after the machine is shut down, and what can happen after the machine starts again all while balancing work between operators and ensuring safety around the machines.

Now imagine this is just one of many applications you run in your factory. Some you build on a Connected Worker platform, some you buy from a vendor, some you get from an implementation partner, and others you share across your supply chain with other vendors.

If you step back from the dogfight of competition, what is unique to your company is likely the design of your products, and some deep IP on their assembly. There is a whole bunch of things that you do that aren’t necessarily unique or only have a few steps that are unique. Here, the IP that makes everyone efficient allows them to produce better quality goods and services, and operate safer environments really wants to be free so that more people can take advantage of it.

What’s great about this new development is that it is a paradigm that we understand because it is not new. Great software is the result of lots of hours of deep study around a business problem to design something that serves a whole market. By approaching software this way, the technology industry is at its best. We can monetize our investment over lots of customers and thus make technology that is incredibly useful and elegant, but a fraction as expensive as a custom project.

I don’t think I reveal too much if I say this is how we – and our partners – are thinking about future industrial solutions. This, therefore, is my favorite gift. I am, of course, biased, but I do believe we will begin to see the rise of industrial applications in 2019. Our core mission was to consumer-ize industrial software. This will be the next level of ease-of-use that allows great technology to flow to every corner of an industrial operation by abstracting away the coding, dashboarding, and integration and getting straight to the value. Finally, continuous improvement has the potential to not be the exception, but the rule.

As I bring this story to a close, I want to thank all the technology solutions from the last 12 days that endured my chiding. There are brilliant entrepreneurs in each of these areas, and we are all attempting to row together.

It’s the wise and visionary boss, like mine, that gets this. Let’s raise a glass and toast to bringing all that is useful together in 2019 to really hit the gas on accelerating the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Merry Christmas to all and a prosperous new year.