In one of my favorite movie scenes from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, people ask a supercomputer the ultimate question: What is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?
For the next 7.5 million years, the computer works on that question, and at last, a large crowd gathers to hear the final pronouncement.
However, their cheers and excitement quickly turn to cries of dismay and revolt when the computer announces the answer: 42.
Douglas Adams, the original author of this scene, may not have been familiar with IoT, but his message is prescient and hints at the three central considerations to turn raw sensor data into more effective decision-making - access, context, and data integrity.
Adams isn't the only person to consider these questions. IDC uses the term “decision-centric computing” to refer to “an event-driven style of building solutions that puts decision automation at the heart of the solution. Decision-centric solutions continuously receive and analyze data to predict when decisions need to be made, systematically learn how to automate those decisions, and act on each decision to improve performance.”
In an IDC profile of OSIsoft “Evaluating OSIsoft: Adding Intelligence to IoT Analytics and Information Management,” IDC's Stewart Bond and Maureen Fleming provides a overview of what OSIsoft does, and more importantly, what industrial customers should think about before investing in operational data technology.
1. Access - Can you get to the data?
In Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the people suffer a fundamental problem of data access. They wait 7.5 million years for the computer to return a solution to their query. The lesson for IoT: data management and organization is more about storing as much as possible for the lowest possible cost per bit. It's also about access. Data needs to circulate where it can be used to make better decisions to save money or prevent accidents.
2. Context - Can you understand the data?
An answer without context is no answer at all. Unless you want to end up with your workers scratching their heads trying to figure out what “42” means, data needs to be structured in the context of your operations, ideally as a digital twin of your operations.
3. Data Integrity - Can you trust the data?
Finally, if your technology is a black box that spits out answers, people will not trust it to make decisions and you will have a revolt on your hands.
The PI System has been built to ensure real-time access to contextualized data. Originally “engineered to collect and efficiently store data in a time series database and connect to multiple types of technologies, such as SCADA systems, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and distributed control systems (DCS),” according to the IDC report, today, the PI System has gone beyond historian to become “an out-of-the-box platform that provides the capabilities to build IoT specific applications.”
The PI Server with Asset Framework, Event Frames, and Notifications transforms raw data streams into a digital twin of operations, while the PI System's visualization tool, PI Vision, allows users throughout an organization to create drag-and-drop dashboards for access and visibility. Finally, OSIsoft's integration technologies and partner solutions make OT data widely available across an enterprise in real time.
As the IDC report concludes, “Data is the lifeblood of digital transformation, and OSIsoft solutions are not only a source of that lifeblood, but the data intelligence that the PI System can insert into the flow also enables contextual decision-centric computing using data that can be trusted, driving opportunities for digitally transformed operations and business outcomes.”
Find out more - read the full IDC Perspective here.