In some of the previous posts on the Modern Equipment Manufacturer, the contributors and writers have laid out some of the benefits that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can realize from cloud-enabling their devices. These benefits have ranged from providing better, more proactive service and repairs to equipment owners, to selling more service contracts, to helping eliminate warranty abuse.
And while my associates have done an excellent job of discussing why an OEM would want to cloud-enable their devices, they haven’t really talked about how they cloud-enable their devices.
Many of the large, industry-leading OEMs out there have elected to do it themselves. They’ve hired teams of engineers and developers and given them budgets and resources to create gateways and other tools that enable their devices to connect to networks and, subsequently, the cloud.
And that’s great for the big companies. But how many OEMs can really afford to do that?
How many small and medium-sized OEMs can bring on a team of dedicated engineers and developers to enable this capability? How many can dedicate budget dollars to cover their salaries and pay for the cloud servers and other tools that they’ll need to bring the capability from conception to reality?
From my time in the industry, I can confidently say that very few can make that kind of investment.
So, what does that mean for the small and medium-sized OEM? Does that mean that they can’t begin harvesting the data being generated by their equipment in the field? Does that mean that they can’t benefit from the knowledge about how their equipment is operating? Does that mean that they have to forfeit the benefits that cloud-enabled equipment and data analysis can deliver when it comes to developing new products and servicing their customers’ equipment?
No. Because there are other tools and pathways that can democratize the cloud and open the door to the cloud for these OEMs, even if their bank accounts aren’t on par with those of the big, internationally-known OEMs and global brands.
Let’s look at two of them.
The ever-expanding cloud ecosystem
Cloud computing is big business. There is an ever-increasing universe of cloud providers owned by the world’s largest tech powerhouses that are competing for the infrastructure dollars of companies – including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft’s Azure, Google Cloud and IBM Cloud.
In an attempt to differentiate themselves and gain an advantage in the increasingly competitive and commoditized cloud market, these companies are constantly developing new cloud tools and applications. From machine learning and AI tools to big data and data analytics tools, these cloud providers are constantly developing new solutions to help give their users more functionality and capability right out of the box.
With the cloud becoming so pervasive across so many markets and industries, some of these cloud providers have begun developing applications and tools for specific industries. Some are even beginning to launch IIOT and “Cloud with a Purpose” tools designed to help equipment owners and OEMs cloud-enable their devices and harvest data from them.
This is a much more economical solution for OEMs than hiring a development team and bringing cloud capabilities to bear internally. However, it’s not all positive.
Some technical know-how is still needed to implement and integrate these solutions in an OEM’s equipment. Also, these solutions are effectively cloud tools that have been developed by cloud companies for OEMS. The individuals that have developed these tools most likely lack a deep knowledge of OEMs, the equipment manufacturing industry and the requirements that these organizations have.
This means that the solutions may not completely fill organizational needs and requirements.
However, there is yet another solution for small and medium-sized OEMs looking to cloud-enable their equipment – gateways developed by companies with long histories of servicing the OEM market.
They know you because they are you
A number of companies with deep industry knowledge and experience working with OEMs have begun developing gateways and other cloud-enabling tools that OEMs can use to get their devices in the field connected to the cloud and begin harvesting their data.
The gateways being developed by these companies can be easily integrated into both new equipment, and equipment that’s already installed in the field. They can be integrated without a team of developers and engineers. Also, in contrast to tools being built by and within cloud vendors, these gateways are built to work across multiple protocols and to meet the specific needs and requirements of OEMs.
Tools like these are the real leaders when it comes to democratizing the cloud for small and medium-sized OEMs. They’re built specifically for equipment manufacturers, require little cloud knowledge or expertise, and don’t require significant investment into new staff resources that are knowledgeable in development and the cloud.
The benefits of the cloud shouldn’t be limited to the large OEMs that can afford to staff up with dedicated teams of developers, engineers and cloud experts. The cloud can be a game-changing tool for all OEMs, regardless of size, and gateways – such as the ones offered by Sierra Monitor – are the best path to the cloud for OEMs that may struggle to find their way themselves.