Now that 2020 is underway, it’s time to look back at the major trends that shaped and defined the commercial and industrial device marketplace over the past 12 months.
The past year was an exciting one for device manufacturers, who were inundated by customer demands and industry requirements that greatly impacted their product lines. In 2019, customers began demanding more connected devices with more convenient and automated management. Just as customers expect more connected devices in their homes—everything from smart thermostats and smart speakers to smart vacuums—they are also expecting that same connectivity and convenience from the hardware that they use during the work day.
Simultaneously, manufacturers found themselves racing to collect their own device data to enable advanced service offerings, drive their product development and otherwise keep up with their larger competitors’ advances.
To learn more about the major device manufacturing trends in 2019, we recently sat down with Steve Shaw, the VP of Sales and Marketing at Sierra Monitor and a frequent contributor to the Modern Equipment Manufacturer. During our discussion, we talked about the trends that shaped equipment manufacturing in the past year.
Here is what he had to say:
Modern Equipment Manufacturer (MEM): What were some of the trends that we saw across OEMs in the commercial and industrial equipment marketplace in 2019? What were some of their priorities this past year? What major product initiatives did we see across these companies?
Steve Shaw: In 2019, we saw a growing interest from commercial and industrial device manufacturers in accessing device data from the field.
In 2018 we saw manufacturers acknowledge the power of cloud connectivity – the ways in which it could affect their product offerings, improve their customer service, and transform revenue streams. If 2018 was the year of acknowledgement, 2019 became the year of implementation. We saw more and more manufacturers take advantage of cloud technology and connectivity to ensure a competitive advantage within their respective marketplaces.
Manufacturers are realizing that their customers expect the same Amazon-like convenience and ease from their personal lives in their professional lives. Contractors, installers, and resellers want live device data from equipment in the field – and they want it delivered simply. In 2019 we saw manufacturers take the first steps towards implementing solutions to address this customer pain point.
That trend is driven by some of the larger players in the industry, who are making significant investments in cloud infrastructure, and everybody is starting to see this capability as more than a competitive advantage. It’s becoming table stakes in the market. You’re going to need to have real-time data in order to compete.
MEM: In the past year, we started to hear “X as a service” and cloud connectivity start to enter the conversation. Did you see any OEMs taking major steps on either of these fronts, or is this still in its infancy?
Steve Shaw: I see all of our customers on their own personal cloud journey, both at a corporate level and the individual level. We have come across people who have really thought deeply about how real-time information about equipment in the field can transform their business. When it comes to “As a Service” offerings, not many manufacturers got there in 2019, but you can tell that they’re on their way.
Device connectivity is the first step, and our job as a thought leader in this space is to guide people on this journey and help them supply that added value to their customers.
MEM: Did you see OEMs begin to factor cybersecurity into their priorities and initiatives this year? What steps, if any, were OEMS taking to make their devices more secure?
Steve Shaw: I’ll be honest, we have not seen a lot of OEMs who demand – or expect – added security in 2019, but we’re starting to see more manufacturers add more ethernet connections into their equipment.
Now that they’re plugging into the internet, there are lot of threats – and responsibilities – that come with internet connectivity that perhaps these manufacturers aren’t prepared for. Certainly it’s no secret that the internet isn’t getting any safer.
As a leader in the industry, this is something that the FieldServer team made a priority in the past year and will continue to prioritize going forward. Just because people aren’t thinking about cybersecurity or asking about cybersecurity, doesn’t mean that we can afford not to. The threats are real, and hope is not a strategy.
To learn what steps manufacturers can take in the new year to secure their devices and what other trends they can expect in 2020, stay tuned for next week’s article with Steve Shaw, “What 2020 Holds for Manufacturers.”