Pandemic to accelerate DX 2.0 era

Oct. 13, 2020

Linda Tsai believes that industry is entering a new era of digital transformation, constrained by the global recession that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic while simultaneously bolstered by the safety constraints it imposed. 

President of Advantech’s Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) business unit, Tsai took time away from the company’s late September “IIoT Virtual Summit” to discuss technology and economic trends with a group of reporters who logged in from around the world. She was joined by Alan Yang, CTO for Advantech; Jerry O’Gorman, associate vice president, IIoT; and Josh Bansidhar, managing director, Europe.

“In digital transformation 1.0 we talked a lot about the convergence of information and operational technologies,” Tsai said. “But now we’re entering Digital Transformation 2.0—which is all about being cloud-enabled and data-driven.” Investments in technologies such as 5G networks, robots and automatic guided vehicles are have been buoyed by COVID safety measures, Tsai said.  

Despite the overall economic downturn, Advantech sees significant activity in certain market segments, including energy management, transportation, semiconductor and water/wastewater. Activity is also strong in the company’s WISE-Marketplace, where participants in the Advantech ecosystem can explore and purchase applications developed by Advantech and other third-parties. 

“Co-creation is necessary for AIoT success,” Tsai said, referring to the ongoing enablement of the IIoT with artificial intelligence, the Artificial Intelligence of Things. “Any IoT project requires cooperation—other technology providers and local integrators will be key success factors.”

In response to the pandemic, the Taiwanese company is also investing in its own local capabilities around the globe, added Jerry O’Gorman. “In the U.S., for example, we’ve added a new Chicago office, plus Boston and Dallas are on the drawing board,” he said. “These investments will help to address local needs in the face of travel restrictions as well as sustainability concerns.”

“Technology adoption continues to drive automation,” O’Gorman continued, but DX 2.0 is more focused on layering IIoT and AI technologies on top of other automation systems. “Adding AI to automation is about codifying tribal knowledge,” he said. “For example, maintenance jobs persist, but workflows change. AI is only as good as the experts who deploy and tune them—those experts are needed to be sure those new solutions provide predictability and efficiency and satisfy new business opportunities.”

“The show goes on,” added Josh Bansidhar. “And in days to come, the pandemic will be shown to have been an accelerator.”