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Making Digital Transformation Tangible – Insights from Hannover Messe 2019

Tieto visited Hannover Messe which is one of the largest trade shows in the world. Here's our key takeaways from the event.

Mika Pitkänen / May 21, 2019

Hannover Messe is one of the largest trade shows in the world. It has a long tradition of showing industries the way in terms of new technologies and trends. This year Messe took place in April and it gathered 215 000 visitors and 6 500 exhibitors, as well as over 500 applications of ground-breaking industry 4.0 and artificial intelligence solutions.

The lead theme for Messe this year was “Integrated Industry – Industrial Intelligence” with Sweden as its partner country, so overall the theme was very close to our hearts.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the Messe:

1. Shift from cool digital gadgets into production ready integrated solutions

While for instance IoT, Artificial Intelligence, Digital twins, etc. technologies have been around for a while, and there has been lot of PoC´s and pilots around these, many companies (both end customers and suppliers), have however found it difficult to genuinely establish production ready use cases that are integrated to operations and actually add value.

In Hannover Messe, we saw many examples of next level interoperability of technology enabling more efficient usage of these technologies in a value adding manner. As an example, the majority of smart sensor providers are supporting multiple public cloud IoT stacks (e.g. Azure, AWS) out of the box, and many smart equipment manufacturers have already figured out the connectivity puzzle and are using standard protocols (OPC-UA, HART, Wireless HART, etc.) to communicate across devices and towards IoT platforms.

Many previously challenging technology questions started to look like fairly trivial and rather simplistic decision points compared to huge integration problems. There are also many interesting industry initiatives that will drive this standardization forward, as an example the Process industry 4.0 standardization initiative with Modular type package (MTP), Open manufacturing platform (OMP) by Microsoft and BMW, and SAP´s Open Industry Alliance 4.0 (the latter two were announced during the messe).

Actually many of the exhibitors had created joint holistic solutions (e.g. ball bearing manufacturer IoT data combined with the data of engine that uses the bearings), where data was connected from one exhibitors booth to another, thus enabling more holistic analytics, and proving a point of the out of the box integration capability.
SAP also proved a strong point of their capability to support end to end the operations of a manufacturing company, by having built a complete integrated operations (from product design to production and aftermarket operations) of a manufacturing company to the messe supported by SAP and their 3rd party partner tooling and integrated all the way to the automated warehouse and assembly robots.

2. The rise of the solution ecosystems – Thinking outside of the box

Related to the previous point, the rise of the solution ecosystems is a highly visible thing in the industry. The big technology vendors are no longer relying on themselves being the single source of truth when it comes to the best solutions, but rather it is a competition of attracting the best partners and developers to start using their platforms in the most innovative ways together with the customers to bring business value.

This was very much evident when visiting for instance the excellent departments of Microsoft and AWS, where there was a huge number of production ready 3rd party applications, and it was clear the winners of the future platform game will be the ones who are able to leverage their solution ecosystem and naturally attract customers – and also the developers and partners who innovate on their platforms.

3. Increasing the amount of data, complexity and difficult decisions

While the solutions ecosystems, interoperability of the solutions and many other things are developing in a favourable direction from the viewpoint of manufacturing companies that are building their Industry 4.0 capabilities, the complexity of the overall landscape is increasing.

We were impressed by the sheer number of different options, when it comes to IoT connectivity, IoT platforms, the variety of different applications, smart sensors and smart equipment with all kinds of embedded features and proprietary digital enablers, however it also truly highlighted the pain companies face in terms of deciding which way to go, when all of the producers of nuts and bolts have their own proprietary IoT platforms and every supplier is keen on other cooperating in the ecosystem, but also competing about their positioning in the overall landscape and increasing their share within.

The amount of data potentially available from different sources calls for new architectures, when on the one hand you need to combine data from countless different sources (e.g. Data lake solutions), but on the other hand you probably need some of the data only for local operations with real-time requirement (Edge analytics).


It is easier than ever to start building value adding Industry 4.0 landscape with IoT, Digital twins and advanced analytical capabilities, however companies need to pay attention to details in decision making and build the overall architectures and applications in a way that makes sure the overall landscape supports and enables business goals with reasonable cost and is flexible in terms of maintaining it and making changes to it in future.

Another key aspect that was not visible on the Hannover demoes, but is embedded between the lines, is data model and governance of data. We predict that this will become one of the key capabilities of companies in future.

We at Tieto, together with our partners, are ready to support your journey in navigating through the complexity and start creating such landscapes.

Mika Pitkänen
Tieto Alumni


Mika Pitkänen

Tieto Alumni

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