The day after tomorrow in asset performance
Peter Hinssen is an entrepreneur, who has focused on startups for almost 20 years. He is a technologist at heart. Peter will be talking at the Asset Performance 4.0 Conference on September 16th in Ghent about how companies and technical services can prepare for the future.
Peter, you will be present as a keynote speaker at the Asset Performance Awards. Can you explain where your interest in the industry comes from?
It is a little bit personal because my father worked in the oil and gas industry his entire life, specifically Maintenance and everything that deals with process control. So, when I was a kid, it was all I heard from my dad coming home. And I think the evolution that you see in this industry is fascinating. New technologies are changing, in my opinion, tremendously: dealing with assets, managing performance and thinking about prediction is going to change tremendously. So, I am very excited to be part of this.
Can you give some examples of technologies that will impact our world?
Big Data. I mean, this is an industry that has always been interested in information. But now Big Data is becoming abundant. We have technologies to deal with that. We have machine learning, artificial intelligence, all these mechanisms of connectivity. I think if you put it all together, it is piling up technology upon technology that is fundamentally changing how we think about how to deal with data. And I think it will have a tremendous impact on this industry.
What do you think the main challenge of the industry today is?
We are currently in a disruptive era. I use this word carefully, but it indicates a constant acceleration and the need to follow that speed. Lots of companies see a huge conflict between possibilities and reality. So this gap and tension between what is possible and what you do day-to-day is a big challenge. We need to take a huge leap in skills and technology. This is also an opportunity to become more critical of your company. Performance plays an important role. And the reason why your company exists is absolutely core. But be careful what you wish for, because once you enter the spotlight, you have got to deliver. Take up your role and realise it.
What makes it so difficult to take up this role?
Being able to tell the story and carry it out. Storytelling is key. IT people should be rockstars, but most of the time they are not so communicative. That is because they don't have the skills to tell their story. If you go from predictive maintenance to Asset Performance in a connected world, then you have so many touch-points, that you have to broaden your gaze. You need more skills and competences. Your suppliers change. Your partners change. And everything becomes more fluid.
In your book ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, you're talking about what is going wrong in companies today. What is your vision?
Well, I have a very simple idea of how much time companies spend on today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow. Most companies are very busy with today. And when they look at the future, they often extrapolate today, they think that tomorrow is approximately the same. But we are now facing so many different changes that there might be changes in business models or in technologies or new players coming onto the market. We have to think about this disruption, 'this is the day after tomorrow', and how you deal with that. When I talk about today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, many people say they dedicate 70-20-10 percent of their time on it. The reality is we spend 93 percent of our time on today, maybe 7 percent thinking about tomorrow and virtually none on the day after tomorrow. And I think in many industries, this was okay and in the 20th century. But we are now fully in the 21st century. That doesn't work anymore. We have to be much more flexible and agile. And that is why the day after tomorrow is more important than ever before.
You will also talk about two interesting concepts: staying essential and staying relevant. How can we achieve that?
Of course you want to be essential. You want to do something that makes sense. If you do predictive maintenance, that is essential. If you work for customers, you are hoping that you are vital for that customer. But the other question is, how relevant are you? And I think there is a very clear difference between essential and relevant. Think about the telecom industry. If you look at telecom 10 years ago, a telecom operator was essential. You needed a SIM card, and they were relevant, they gave you added value. Today, in this world, they are still essential, because you still need that SIM card. But the relevance has dropped. And therefore, if whatever capacity you have in an organization, whatever position you have in dealing with the outside world, that is the core question, are you essential? I hope you are. But how can you make sure that your relevance doesn't go down?
And that brings us to the maintenance and quality department. They don't add value directly to the product. The customer doesn't pay for maintenance that was necessary to produce his product. But it is essential. So what would your tip be to staying relevant?
Well, I think it is that we are in an age where everything is interconnected. So, if you look at an organization, they are not silos anymore. We are in this network age, everything is connected to everything else. So when you say that your customer doesn't pay for the maintenance directly, that is true, but your customer will feel, see and understand whether this is something which is integral in terms of quality thinking or performance management. And in the end, if your company wants to be flexible and fast and agile, you have to incorporate that into every part of the organization. Every fibre, every node, every element has to understand that you are part of a bigger picture, and you have to keep reinventing yourself to be both essential and relevant for the outside world.
This connectivity is entering a lot of factories. They are experimenting, but we see some reluctance and difficulties to scale up. How can you solve that?
Well, I think we are in a phase where a lot of the technologies emerging take something like AI or machine learning that is relatively new. Most people don't understand it very well, there is a huge skill gap that we need to fill, because we need to train and prepare people for that. But a lot of things are just trying out, companies are experimenting and figuring out how to apply this, but it is very early in the game. If you compare that to the PC industry, this was the time where we had Commodores and Ataris, and not the established industry like we have it today. We are going through that phase. And if you are too early, you are going to burn a lot of money and not get a lot of results. But if you wait too long, you probably run the risk of becoming completely obsolete. I think it is making sure that you are constantly in tune that you are constantly alert that you follow this as closely as possible and make the right move at the right time. But you can only do that if you are prepared.
How can people prepare for this skill challenge?
I think they have to make time for it. Time is the biggest issue. To put your day-to-day work at the side is difficult, but you really have to invest in these skills. Experiment at first, like tinkering with fuel until somethings blows up. There are so many possibilities, also online, to test and try out different stuff. Everybody talks about life long learning, but most managers don't do it themselves.
Why should people attend your keynote at the Asset Performance 4.0 Conference?
I think this is one of the most fascinating industries that for a long time, has already worked with data. But it's now making a quantum leap. I'd love to talk about how I see that evolving, I hope to inspire you to maybe even do more than what you're doing today. But above all, to prepare ourselves for, I think, a very disruptive wave that is going to affect everyone. And I think if we understand this, we can all actually come out even better as a result.
Asset Performance 4.0 Conference & Exhibition
• Asset Performance 4.0 Conference, 15-17 September 2020, ICC Ghent, Belgium
• More info and registrations : www.assetperformance.eu
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