Delivering the Future of Automation Software

For the Invensys Software Business, Global Reach, Technology Innovation and Service Excellence Are Key Strategic Initiatives

By Keith Larson

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Even as the overall global economy struggles to find its feet, Invensys Operations Management has found steady ground and is off to the races—building on a year of solid global growth and investing to redefine the future of industrial automation. Such was the message delivered by Ravi Gopinath, president of the company's software business, to more than 500 attendees of its Wonderware and Avantis products assembled this week in Anaheim, Calif.

As an operating group within Invensys plc, Invensys Operations Management delivered 12% revenue growth in its latest fiscal year, topping $2 billion, Gopinath reported. "We now number 9,000 employees globally, with 55% of our business in rapidly developing economies. Growth is strong across all business segments."  The software business, which also includes the company's SimSci-Esscor brand, among others, was up an impressive 20%. And in terms of licenses, its world-leading tally now exceeds 725,000, he said.

Global reach, technology innovation and service excellence are the software group's key strategic initiatives, Gopinath said. The company is investing to extend its reach in emerging economies, develop new technologies that will define industrial automation software's next generation, and deliver a growing range of services intended to help its customers realize value and manage risk.

"Manufacturing and industry has changed, requiring a fundamental rethinking of how companies will attain real-time operational excellence," Gopinath said. "Executives, managers and operators need to envision the future of their business, understanding how they can become more flexible and sustainable. By taking advantage of new underlying technologies, IT platforms and software, by better organizing and enabling their workforce and by improving their overall asset reliability, they will be able to create and sustain a flexible, successful business, one that is built for today and the future."

Addressing Key Market Needs

The company's core software business is in batch manufacturing, heavy process industry and, increasingly, infrastructure applications such as transportation systems and water distribution networks. These industries have both common business needs and unique requirements that Invensys must continue to address. "Services, too, have become a critical element of our offering," Gopinath said. "We are increasingly cognizant of the fact that technology alone isn't sufficient. We want to ensure that our software can be uniquely customized to fit the needs of a diverse range of customers, and at any point in the value chain."

In the food and beverage, life sciences and consumer goods sectors, manufacturers are struggling to increase productivity and reduce total cost of ownership even as new brands and product SKUs proliferate. Quality, regulatory compliance and safety remain fundamental. To help address these issues, Invensys is focused on providing integrated views of production and process history, integrated workflow and task management as well as compliance management for its customers in these segments.

Invensys' customers in the heavy process industries—oil and gas, chemical, mining and power generation—face a somewhat different set of challenges, notably the need to extend the working life of expensive capital assets. These industries also face an aging workforce, margin pressures and regulatory compliance demands. For these customers, Invensys is bringing to bear integrated views of production and process history, embedded asset intelligence, and the ability to scale solutions from a single node to increasingly large, tiered deployment configurations.

And while all industrial users benefit from the company's increasingly scalable software, infrastructure customers especially are pushing the upper end of the range with I/O counts in excess of one million. For these often highly distributed systems, architecture flexibility, remote operations and the easy, cost-effective integration of disparate systems are prime Invensys differentiators.

All of the industries that Invensys serves are benefiting from the company's InFusion enterprise control system, which provides a real-time infrastructure for top-to-bottom automation and information management. "In all of these industries, speed of response and the ability to easily integrate disparate systems are critical. They need to make sure the right information is available to right person at right time—but the sheer weight of legacy systems can make this a challenge," Gopinath said.

From a product perspective, Gopinath highlighted several new or forthcoming Invensys releases, including ArchestrA System Platform 2012 R2, which features expanded supervisory control, information reporting, analysis and big-data capabilities. The company's Wonderware MES 2012 release now includes quality management, complementing the product's operations and performance management functionality. And version 5 of the company's Avantis Decision Support System (DSS) software now leverages the company's Wonderware Intelligence software to provide manufacturing and executive decision makers with rich, role-based asset management analytics and reporting, helping to drive asset excellence.

Investment Priorities

From a continued investment perspective, Invensys will focus much of its development effort on core platform applications that are applicable to all industries. This includes engineering, HMI, supervisory and historian product functionality, and will account for a bulk of the company's development investment, Gopinath said. The rest of the company's effort will essentially be split evenly between production and performance applications and design, simulation and optimization applications.

Looking forward, Gopinath sees operations management capabilities embedded deeper within smarter applications and assets, as well as cloud enablement of the company's already far-reaching applications. "We believe that the spectrum of users who touch our technologies will be far broader," Gopinath said. The cloud will also allow the company to develop and commercialize a broader array of remote system and support services. "How can we be more proactive in monitoring your application landscape?"

In the end, Invensys is investing is software and services capabilities that help its customers manage short and long-term risks to their businesses. "We have to make sure our customers don't lose the ability to make the right investment choices," Gopinath said. "It's not a choice, it's an imperative."

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