On this week's Industrial Talk we're onsite at IoT Solutions World Congress and talking to Andrei Ciobotar, CTO at Relayr about "Powerful Strategies to Improve Your Digital Transformation Outcomes". Get the answers to your "Innovation" questions along with Andrei's unique insight on the “How” on this Industrial Talk interview!
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Industrial Talk is brought to you by Armis. Yes, you were in the digital transformation game. Yes, you need to find trusted companies, trusted individuals to help you along with that journey. The Armis platform delivers complete asset intelligence, you know what that means, insights into your connected assets, you're in the digital transformation game, you have to have that insights into what is connected, go to Armis.com Find out more, you will not be disappointed. Also industry IoT Consortium. At industrial talk, we always talk about education, we always talk about collaboration, we are always talking about innovation. And if you're a business that has any desire to be resilient to the future, you need to be able to educate, collaborate, as well as innovate with other industry professionals. That's a must. Industry IoT consortium brings that all together, you need to be a part of this community, you need to be connected with these leaders that are all apart the industry IoT consortium, go out to ai consortium.org. Find out more again, you will not be disappointed, you're just going to be happy. On this episode of industrial talk. We are on site IoT solutions World Congress, Barcelona, Spain, the town, and I want to make sure that you put this on your calendar for 2023 end of January, IoT solutions World Congress 2023, you will not be disappointed, and you'll probably get to meet our next interview. Andrei Ciobotar Relayr is the company digital transformation. They're leading the way in digital transformation. Excellent company, incredible people making things happen. That's really where you'll have all the contact information out on industrial talk. You enjoy the conversation
thank you, man. Appreciate you finding time in your busy schedule. By the way. Your your I don't even know what you can't call your relay or truck. Like right in front of us guys. So if you're listening it there's a big ol semi in front of us and it is Relayr. And it's pretty doggone cool.
Yeah. Let's be here. And then thank you for inviting me. Yeah, there's a there's a huge truck. It's a bit of a bit of an institution and realer culture these days.
It probably so it captures your attention because when we walked in was like booth booth booth truck. Hey, Oh, yeah. And it's a it's a dandy too. All right. For the listeners out there. Andrei, let's give us a little background on who you are. And I read your bio, but they haven't. So just a little background.
Yeah, so I'm Andrei Ciobotar with Relayr. And when the company for over five years now. I've worked quite a few hats. I was I was running the the analytics department and Relayr. For a while, I took on a broader set of responsibilities and taking on engineering teams. And now I'm responsible for technical strategy and pretty much everything that has to do with ecology. Yeah,
yeah, that's pretty much everything. I mean, yeah.
I mean, there's there's there's a lot in the sense that, you know, when when you dabbled in IoT, or went from from from purely focusing on AI systems, it's all about edge computing and gateways, and cloud computing and hybrid systems. Yeah, got the entire collective of stuff to think about. It's like
the miscellaneous file. Now, IoT just has incorporated and it's, it's sort of a sort of a misnaming. Now, because it's like, oh, I'm an IoT. What do you do? Oh, AI? Oh, okay. So let's, let's talk a little bit about Relayr. And so what I can appreciate, because in my conversations I've had a ton of conversations, is the fact that I'm looking for simple, I'm looking for a real trusted partner, to help me with this digital journey. And I think I like the way you guys sort of roll that out. Can you help the listeners understand what that is all about?
Yeah, I mean, fundamentally, Relayr is, is a technology company, and we're developing IoT infrastructure and data services that sit on top of this infrastructure. I think what's interesting about Relayr these days is that it's uniquely positioned to marry the industrial data world with the financial operations world. And I think a colleague of mine very aptly put it along the lines of simplicity is complexity resolved, and cool. I think it's a really cool statement. Yeah. And it actually really captures the essence of this company. We're going on a journey with our with our partners, and we're hiding all of the nitty gritty details that you would normally be exposed to if you've worked with different, you know, different companies that you would somehow, you know, duct tape and nail together into a coherent solution. We're taking that complexity away. And we're giving you a single point of contact for collecting data, deriving insights from the data. But also, I mean, there's a there's a giant equipment as a service signposts on our truck. Go, ah, yeah, I'm not sure. Yeah, sit in plain sight. But I think that's really interesting in the sense that we were in a position to create an experience for the customer that, again, combined systems that you would normally not connect, you know, ERP systems and contract management systems and IoT platforms, I think it's, it's an ecosystem. That is that is quite unique right now.
So lay out that, that vision that that when we start talking about, everybody gets everybody gets the operational component of IoT. Let's put a device out on this, you know, asset, collected data, analyze the data, and do whatever we need to do with the data. Where does the financial component come into? So I got that
link that? Well, consider that in the as model view, you want to go for usage based billing as an example, you want to look at use cases around paper park, or paper usage or paper, whatever. Right? And that point, you have to think about a few things. How do I, how do I capture users data, not only capture users data, but how do I transform it into something that, and I'm sure my colleagues in the financial structuring department, I'm going to I'm going to kill me if they hear this, but very trivially speaking, how do I issue an invoice for a window of usage data? And that may sound like a trivial problem to solve, but it's not. It brings with itself multiple challenges. And coming back to the statement of IoT is just about everything these days, it's really spiraling out of control, because
yeah, it is.
I mean, consider it consider that you're issuing an invoice with the usage data, but based on usage that invites a discussion on how do you trace the line edge of data? How do you prove that this invoice is truly connected to that window of usage for that specific asset at that specific site. And then it gets even more crazy, because ultimately, every customer, now you look at the IoT reference architecture, and it's like, it's pretty straightforward. You put a gateway, give it some sensors. Easy, alright. But then you, you go in the field, and you recognize, oh, everyone seems to have something in place already some toy of you know, various maturity levels. And suddenly, you're in a position where you have to either shoehorn your solution into an existing ecosystem, or deal with a hugely complex and heterogeneous set up on site, multiple software components from multiple vendors, that you have to interact with maybe pulling usage data from, I mean, issuing an invoice based on usage data you pulled from a third party system, you don't even understand how it works from a partner that is not affiliated with you, that is a fundamentally challenging topic,
do you because you've just touched on so many points here. Do you find just from a from a user perspective, let's say I'm Scott manufacturer, and then you start chiming in about, Yep, you got this, you got this. And if there's an ecosystem that I have out there, I know it is exist out there, because I've been in business for a little while, and then you start to talk about, and then we're going to try to pull it all together and make heads or tails me make meaning out of it. Come on, do you think people are? You know, if I heard that? I'd say, yeah, what how long is that going to take me?
Yeah, integration work is not easy work. I mean, even if you get the solution up and running, there's there's the hairy topic of maintenance, you know, synchronizing software rollout, someone breaks, the API data is not flowing through my alert and not go out. Because I don't know some usage parameter did not reach my platform, because someone changed the API spec. Right. And I have no idea. And it's, it's, it's, it's really difficult. It's a it's a tough problem to solve. And it's not necessarily intellectually difficult work from a software development perspective, it's just a lot of moving pieces that you have very little control of visibility over. And I think one of the tough decisions that that that maybe many, many partners and customers have to have to consider is is, you know, replacing some of these systems with with broader systems or systems that can, you know, do more things rather than squeeze, shoehorn something into into a setup that is maybe considered immutable. Maybe that's not the right way to go. In the long term,
is it a, could it be a strategy and you're absolutely right, because let's say I have an ERP and the ERP I deployed many years ago, and we've we've updated it and we did this to it. We customize that it's not off the shelf, whatever the the jargon might be. If the pushback that I would say is like, okay, can can we create a project that is focused on success? Meaning, start small, say, Okay, here's, here's a problem. And then I want to be able to deploy something with Relayr. And I want to, I want to pull in all of these components. I've got my ERP, I've got all of the there. Can we do that? Can we do it from an incremental perspective?
I think there's, there's, there's various maturity levels, when you look at the solution, as well as in principle, you can, you can spend together a POC, using existing systems, and you can, you know, prove the hypothesis without creating too much disruption in the software ecosystem without, you know, oh, yeah, the barrier of entry to this project as you replace your ERP system with our own choice. And everyone's appetite dies, honestly. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So you can prove the hypothesis, you can, you can get something that that kind of works. But I think to get to a production grade system that you can trust. And you trust that it's, you know, that the lights stay on, that it's updated in a coherent fashion, that there's no breaking changes and whatnot. I think that that invites a broader discussion around, do you truly want to, to keep these existing systems? Or are you more comfortable with with swapping them out? Of course, if there's many customization that you've applied to our ERP system, then it gets hairy. In that case, there's no way around that you have to create a custom implementation. And that's not necessarily problematic, but of course, it prolongs the journey.
Yeah, but they exist out there. It's just, it is what it is. But I, for me, I, I struggle with the need to do it. Because it's going to cause some pain, yeah, to a certain extent. But I have to do it, if I am a manufacturer, or if I'm in supply chain, whatever, whatever roll on plan, I need to firmly consider that digital transformation journey, I have to do it. If I want to be resilient, if I want to be competitive. If I don't want to go out of business, I have to do this. And I have to go down that road of making that happen. So you know, it's something and then then when we start talking about this, then I'm then I'm concerned about Okay. How do I upskill my workforce to be able to do this? How do I reskill? How do I plan all that out? So those are some challenges.
Absolutely. And it's a journey, I think, I think there's it's not an easy journey. It's a journey that requires also a lot of empathy from from from reelers side, or anyone who basically takes the customer on this journey. You need to recognize that there's a workforce that needs to be upskilled. Either way, you know, you have to choose your battles. In some sense, you could you could say, All right, well, I'm going to hold on to my existing infrastructure, I'm going to hold on to Mexican systems, I'm going to shoehorn this, this this new new partner in and, you know, pay for some custom development, put some glue in place and make sure that I don't disrupt my processes all that much. That requires maybe an investment in a different area. It's just, it's just a question of which battles Do you want to choose? But I think I think fundamentally, you know, especially when you when you look at something like EAS, it is very tempting as a customer to say, well, I already have an ERP system, ASAP can come Can we just take the IoT part? And, and tie it to that one or the other way around? Like, what I already have an IoT part, can I just not like, tack on the financial operations side of things to my IoT platform? We can do these things. But then it just right. Is it right? Yes. Yeah.
Yeah, it does. Is it? Is it? Are you laying the foundation for success? Or are you just sort of, yeah, here, here's a clunker.
And do you want to trust, you know, that the system runs that? You know, I think many people, myself included, and engineers included, maybe downplay the just how brittle these systems can be. I mean, consider asset lifecycle management. You know, my acid comes online is offline, is offline is moved the serial number to like some spare parts changed. These are all key events in the asset lifecycle that have to be, you know, synchronized across different systems. And if you try to say, I'm going to bring my own IoT platform, then that just invites a discussion around well, how do we create this entire middleware between the financial operations platform and IoT system? Oh, it's a it's an entirely new software product that you have to worry about
now. Yeah, bottom line you need. And I'm always I'm always a big fan of trusted Sherpas. Because it is like you said it's a journey. And it is, and there are tremendous and potential speed bumps, issues and and, and you need from a culture perspective within organizations, a passion to do it, because it isn't that it isn't easy. But I believe, and given the fact that you've got all these professionals roaming around here, I believe it's the right decision. And it is the right decision to to make sure that you're in business. And I know that there are going to be businesses out there that are going to come. I'm coming, kicking and screaming, but it's going to happen. And I'm a big advocate, just do it today. Just just have that at least half of the conversation. Yeah. But I think
that it's very, it's very easy. And, of course, really is not immune internally to this either. But there's always the sunk cost fallacy to be mindful, you know, I have a system in place I create, you know, but in the long term, the economics of holding on to the system and may not make sense. So it's has to be a pragmatic discussion. And it has to be a decision that your your successors also will not, you know, not have...