Invensys figures it out—Sudipta Bhattacharya on the new ecosystem of Invensys Operations Management
[img_assist|nid=2968|title=Sudipta Bhattacharya, new Invensys Operations Management CEO|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=282|height=320]It’s been years since the other major players in the automation business took Invensys seriously. First, the disastrous acquisitions, then the precipitous drop in share value, then the departures of quality CEOs and VPs—all of these events leading to many in the media, market analysts and industry insiders thinking that Invensys’ best value was in pieces.
This apparently was the idea inside Invensys itself, when the Invensys Board brought former CEO Paulett Eberhart in from EDS and the rumors flew about selling off Eurotherm, Foxboro and the other “nasty hardware bits” so that Invensys could become a pure software play. At the time, I got quite a few phone calls from investment bankers who wondered how Invensys could survive as a pure software play. I still don’t know the answer to that one. End users, even those who use other control systems, can thank their stars that GE bailed at the last minute on that one.
Finally, however, the Invensys general management (read Ulf Henrikssen, the Chairman of Invensys Pty) has figured it out. When Paulett abruptly resigned earlier this year, Invensys apparently realized that they had been going down an incorrect path. Henrikssen appointed Sudipta Bhattacharya, who had been lured from SAP in 2007 with the promise of being able to work with Peter Martin on InFusion and then made President of Invensys’ star division, Wonderware, as interim leader with the charge of coming up with a strategic vision and a business plan.
This, Sudipta has apparently done. He has been appointed CEO and Business President for a new entity, made up of the former IPS, Eurotherm and Wonderware entities, called Invensys Operations Management.
As Henrikssen announced, “I am pleased to appoint Sudipta to this important role where he will, together with IOM’s people, create new market demand by solving today’s problems with a new and open approach to customer value. His hands-on experience in process automation and optimisation, and in running industrial solutions and software businesses, will help us take advantage of the convergence in technologies that enable our customers to optimise their entire operations, with the opportunity to create a continuum of solutions and services for the whole industrial market.”
In a far-ranging discussion yesterday, Bhattacharya talked about his vision for Invensys. “Sometimes, you just have to wait for the right time,” he said, when I asked him if perhaps Invensys Pty hadn’t waited a bit too long to do this obvious and long overdue overhaul.
He noted that Invensys had needed to get some things in place. “Invensys CEO Ulf Henriksson commissioned a cross-functional team from each of the three businesses earlier this year,” he said. “This team explored integration of the three businesses. The team spent significant time, over several months pouring through market and competitive data, speaking with customers, sharing detailed information on strategic plans, sharing and discussing the output with the leadership team and Board. The team arrived at a consensus. Integration would benefit customers, employees and shareholders by enabling Invensys to claim the leadership position in a new Operations Management space.”
“For us,” Bhattacharya went on, “this is a natural evolutionary step-- not something revolutionary. We believe, however, that the benefits we’ll be able to provide to our customers WILL be revolutionary-- an Open software platform with unmatched combined industry expertise; proven technology, devices, solutions; an integrated portfolio of offerings from over 9,000 employees in more than 180 countries with a presence in more than 200,000 customer locations-- all available to help customers succeed.”
The open software platform he talked about is clearly InFusion and Archestra. This, he said, permitted Invensys to continue to offer control system agnostic tools like InFusion, Triconex, and Avantis and SimSci Esscor while backing it all up with Foxboro and Eurotherm feet on the street. So the nasty product bits are once again core and strategic for Invensys Operations Management. “I need to have the plumbing,” Bhattacharya said. “Cisco succeeded because they made plumbing for networks. Invensys need to have the plumbing in order to do what we want to do with the information.”
“You know that I hired Matt Bauer (ex-Rockwell Software –ed.) as vice president of Ecosystem for Wonderware,” Bhattacharya said. “We are creating a new enterprise wide ecosystem for Invensys Operations Management.”
And if you think about it, Bhattacharya is trying to replicate at the enterprise level what Wonderware did at the HMI level. He’s trying to produce a set of best of breed tools that can be used with many different control systems, including Foxboro’s and Eurotherm’s, at the enterprise level. When I suggested this, Bhattacharya said, “Yes, exactly.”
Bhattacharya revealed himself a devotee of Eli Goldratt, as he pointed out that you have to go after the pinch point, the bottleneck, in any enterprise and work to that bottleneck. Right now, he believes, the bottleneck is in operations management. “Lean supply chains,” he said, “are also fragile supply chains.” That’s why the new name, and the new focus for Invensys as an integrated enterprise.
But remember the plumbing. It would be easy, Bhattacharya noted, to be distracted by making the most wonderful graphics and dashboards. “We’re not chasing fancy software and graphics,” he said, even though Wonderware and other groups have done so in the past, and Invensys just announced radical simulation software. “What we are chasing,” he went on, “is the fundamental that sits behind the dashboard. In order to make lean supply chains robust, we have to be able to deliver real time information from the plant floor all the way through the supply chain. That will make manufacturing ‘pull’ enterprises, with all that entails, instead of ‘push’ enterprises. It will really make lean work.”
Bhattacharya is a powerful evangelist. In fact, with Peter Martin, Invensys Operations Management has a powerful combination of highly respected business analysts as CEO and chief strategist. He is in accord with Martin (and me, for that matter) about the problem. “Operations happen in real time, but usable information is not available to help customer personnel optimize businesses in real time,” he said, pounding the same pulpit that Martin, myself and a bunchaton of other pundits have pounded—and he’s right. “Information is historic,” he went on, “limited in scope and does not provide advice on how to improve business value vs. just improving a specific operation.” We noted that there are numerous examples of optimizing a specific process in a plant only to find out that the enterprise as a whole suffered.
Bhattacharya said, “People now learn, process information and communicate in different ways-- and previous methods of data display and information exchange are rejected. Standards, practices and rules are slow to change…which can delay necessary change and can harm people and businesses… and there are no ready and available commercial solutions that holistically solve the problems caused by these dynamics.”
What an excellent statement of the issue facing manufacturing, and automation practitioners.
His solution is to integrate the information across the entire enterprise from the plant floor devices all the way to the ERP system (which is likely to be SAP). He calls it “improving the empowerment of personnel.” And just naturally, Invensys Operations Management has the tools, as an integrated company, that can do exactly that.
Bhattacharya laid out exactly how Invensys finally figured their strategy out. With over 40,000 customers across IPS, Eurotherm and Wonderware, the cross functional team discovered that they possessed a strong control, safety, and software DNA and a hardware agnostic business model that allows software and hardware to create a mutual pull for each other.
They discovered they had a product range that can profitably address the top end and low end of the market. They found that their strategic model can coexist with a "largely satisfied distributor and system integrator community."
They noticed that there was a potential pipeline of upgradeable installed base across the three businesses. (Unless their competitors, who have a sort of head-start, get there first.)
They discovered that they have an experienced existing sales force, direct and indirect, worldwide, and a service force capable of supporting that sales effort.
Finally, they noted that they had the potential to bundle solutions across the common manufacturing customer base.
In fact, Invensys could become the world's largest control system integrator, and might even rival IBM and Tata as information integrators. When I asked Bhattacharya if that was a goal, he couldn’t comment.
We can be, he noted, a “One-Stop Shop for all our customers that spans more than 200,000 plants in the automation domain AND the operations domain, with a unique platform strategy that is open and scalable, and technologically the most advanced.”
“There's robust growth potential...,” he went on, “There are new needs, but no market leaders in the operations space. The market is on the move and the bottom line is that Invensys Operations Management will provide key benefits to customers, employees and partners.”
Clearly, Invensys has figured it out. They have a visionary CEO, with support from the Board. They have a difficult task, integrating disparate enterprises who don’t really want to be integrated. After lo these many years, there’s still animosity and dissention between the Foxboro folks and the Southern California-based Wonderware folks. Hammering these disparate divisions into a really integrated enterprise will be a challenge. But if Sudipta and his can do it, Invensys will have, phoenix-like, risen from the grave.
For end users, this can only be good news.