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  • Writer's pictureSarah-Jayne Gratton

On the Edge – Selling the Cloud Proposition

As my father once told me: “In life, success all comes down to the proper application of education, whether that be academic or emotional.”

The data lake generation

In today’s rapidly-changing business world, there’s a fine line between knowledge given and knowledge understood, which means that, in terms of the much touted fourth Industrial revolution, that is, Industry 4.0, there’s a definite need to keep the value proposition simple.

I’ve participated in many a discussion led by software sales teams, eager to sell their solutions to businesses and reach their targets. They delight in relaying the stats on the many data lakes being generated by their products, they overwhelm with a new language filled with ‘gateways’ to the ‘edge’ and beyond, and they preach about the omni-present ‘cloud’.

Let’s keep it simple!

It’s all very intense and the stats are flying, but let’s step it back a little shall we? Let’s start by explaining the value of those little puddles of data that businesses of all sizes create every day.

Let’s talk about how that data, when collected, can be broken down into nuggets of knowledge that can genuinely help businesses of all sizes thrive.

We need to educate, to keep it simple, to tell a compelling story!

An old-school mentality

The buzzwords and hashtags of our new digital revolution are becoming more and more familiar: IoT, IIoT, Machine Learning and Cloud Analytics, for example, are all flung into the conversation mix, but what do they really mean to the businesses themselves? The C-Suite acknowledge that they need to embrace a new mindset of digital transformation but often still fail to grasp what that actually is.

In true Darwinian style, some are making the shift more rapidly and successfully than others. I suspect in part this is down to a new millennial workforce of those born into a mindset of digital thinking, coupled with a willingness to let the new kids lead the way. Hanging on to an old-school mentality and clinging to the hull of a rigid hierarchy just doesn’t swing it in a new world of disruption.

The Sizzle not the Sausage

Ultimately businesses want to understand the benefits not the workings. It’s that old ‘sell the sizzle, not the sausage’ premise. We’re asking them for potentially huge investments, so they need to clearly understand what’s in in for them.

Just like a new plumbing system, when they turn on their industry ‘taps’ they want to see water flowing out.

Likewise, they need to be able to see their data as a valuable transformative force – one that can reduce production errors, maximise manufacturing potential and streamline a supply chain, in turn, decreasing costs and increasing revenue.

Now you’ve got their attention!

Happily Ever After

“But don’t just take our word for it” you say!

And this is the time to tell those success stories, to reveal those all-important case studies. These provide the proof needed in order for the initial outlay to be justified, showing them that they can live “happily ever after” in this new digital world and make it work to their advantage.

As I’ve said many times before, we need to convey that data isn’t the enemy but a very useful, close friend who’s just waiting to be called upon.

The Power of Partnership

Organisations like Siemens know the power of education and are looking into new ways to share knowledge across all sectors of industry. In the healthcare sector for example, Siemens Healthineers work to form strategic educational partnerships, intended to couple current clinical care, research and expertise with new innovations and workflow improvement capabilities.

In a recent example, NuVasive a spine surgery specialist has partnered with Siemens Healthineers to advance operating room workflow efficiency and create increased precision in the delivery of minimally disruptive spine surgery technologies.

“The collaboration between NuVasive and Siemens, known as the Spine Precision Partnership, will provide clinical value to surgeons and hospitals with increased workflow efficiency and improved visualisation to drive superior patient outcomes.

"World-class imaging is essential for successful spine surgery and we are thrilled to partner with a global powerhouse and innovator in the surgical-imaging space” said Matt Link, executive VP of Strategy, Technology & Corporate Development at NuVasive.

Customers as Creators

Another Siemens partnership, based on this philosophy of education and innovation is designed to showcase the coming democratisation of engineering and manufacturing. The announcement of the partnership between Hackrod and Siemens earlier this year shows how just how responsive to needs new technology application can be.

The partnership is producing the world’s first car created in virtual reality, engineered with artificial intelligence and then 3D printed full-size in structural alloy. Named ‘La Bandita’, the project and its resulting case study will serve as a proof of concept for a new industrial design-to production methodology.

“It will demonstrate how individuals, start-ups and small enterprises can create the product of their needs or dreams as easily as playing a video game.” explains Dr Slade Gardner, Hackrod’s Chief Technology Officer.

Industries as Educators

And the companies that have embraced the revolution can, themselves, become industry educators. GE did just that in its Grove City Pennsylvania diesel engine factory. As one of the company's "brilliant factories," it's full of performance monitors and emerging tech that has been embraced and nurtured by everyone from C-Suite to the factory floor.

Every component has been shown to have a structure and a purpose – even the exercise of tightening bolts has been optimised for ergonomic and efficiency purposes. As a result, workers are able to prevent injury and perform their roles more effectively, in turn, themselves becoming ambassadors of digital transformation across GE worldwide.

“It's just one plant, but as more workers eschew the stereotypical fears of new technology competing against them and figure out how to make it work for them, a much more open, and innovative, workforce will follow” says GE’s Chief Technology Officer, Vic Abate.

A final thought

At the end of the day, it’s not that businesses don’t want to buy-in to the new revolution, it’s that they just don’t understand it well enough to make a decision.

So, let’s take a new approach to selling the innovation dream. Let’s break it down into individual value propositions that each industry can actually relate to and say “Wow! That’s exactly what I need – why didn’t you tell me sooner?”


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