With 2018 upon us, I wanted to take the opportunity to pick up the thread of my blogs from 2017 and look at what we can expect from 2018.
At the start of last year, in the light of the surprises of 2016 – the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit decision in particular – I observed that it was a brave person who made predictions about the year ahead.
But I also pointed out underlying strengths in UK Industry and flexibility that I believed would make it a year of “steady as she goes” stoic optimism.
Pleasingly, the one solid prediction that I was happy to make for 2017 was that Lewis Hamilton would end the year as F1 champion in his British-made Mercedes. Congratulations to Lewis and the team at Brackley, and thank you for making my prediction come true!
Looking ahead to 2018, though UK Industry is not yet clear of many of the choppy waters churned up by Brexit uncertainty or productivity issues, there are real signs that it is starting to look ahead with more confidence – and more of a plan than in previous years.
It’s been my great pleasure over the past year to lead our input into the UK Industrial Strategy and the Made Smarter campaign, as well as work more closely than ever before with government ministries committed to the future of UK Industry.
And this blog is a great opportunity to welcome the recent announcements and commitments to helping UK industry take advantage of its wonderful platform to be a leader in the IIoT technology adoption and Connected Enterprise principles.
There are significant challenges involved around skills and productivity in particular, but I feel very positive that government both understands the challenges and is committing to work with industry to overcome them.
At Rockwell Automation, we also felt a sea-change in the evolution of IIoT in 2017. In a recent Podcast with our friends at EEF The Manufacturers’ Organisation, I mentioned that I feel that when it comes to IIoT, the argument has been won. While 12 months ago people were exploring the potential of IIoT, now they are implementing it.
That doesn’t mean that UK industry will digitise and become Connected Enterprises overnight, but from our experience working with companies at the front of the curve, the benefits to efficiency, business agility and productivity will help proliferate these technologies through the sector with increasing speed throughout 2018.
I expect 2018 will see the IIoT conversation shift more to leveraging data. As industry invests in smarter approaches to investment and starts to gain more control of the data that already exists at the plant-floor level, I believe that analytics tools and real-time data visualisation will become a larger part of the conversation.
Through our strategic partnerships with Cisco and Microsoft, we’re really excited to be helping our customers analyse and leverage the vast data available to them, and it’s something we can see starting to really deliver to more and more enterprises as they continue their own IIoT journeys.
No matter what happens at a technology level, and we know that the rate of evolution is phenomenally exciting, progress will always be enabled by people.
If you haven’t yet read it, I’d like to recommend EMEA Director Thomas Donato’s recent blog that talks about developing and nurturing talent, to be an employer of choice. Also keep an eye out for our #peoplematter social media tag that introduces you to some of our amazing people.
I’d like to wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year, and take the opportunity to thank the Rockwell Automation UK team for their continued commitment to excellence and steadfast focus on customer outcomes.