My view on IoT platforms

The text below is from a recent interview I did with Digitala Stambanan. Full reference:

Mr. Paul Albada Jelgersma works at Atos, a global leader in digital transformation with over 110,000 employees in 73 countries and annual revenue of over € 11 billion. At Atos, he is, among other things, responsible for development of services and applications for “Siemens Mindsphere”, which is Siemens’ digital IoT platform for industrial companies.

According to Mr. Albada Jelgersma, many companies now understand that access to data enables new value creation and thus opens up for new opportunities. However, this requires digital platforms to enable the combination of data from different sources. Today there are typically two types of platforms, the generic platform with suppliers like Microsoft, Amazon and Alibaba, and specific platforms with suppliers like Siemens, Bosch, GE, SAP and PTC. Both types have their pros and cons. Generic platforms are adjustable, but as a result require more configuration work, to enable applications. However, as a user you must be on top of the domain competence concerning the application. Specific platforms often have more built in domain functions and knowledge, but generally they are less easy to adjust and customize for use in domains that are outside of their scope.

Mr. Albada Jelgersma foresees that digital platform solutions will possibly be provided to companies free of charge in the future. This, on the condition that ownership of data will be transferred to the digital platform provider, enabling new opportunities and new business models for the digital platform provider. Whether this is good or bad in general, is impossible to judge. Each case is specific and needs to be negotiated separately.

Moreover, one can notice a political influence on the digital platforms of today, says Mr. Albada Jelgersma. This is seen through state laws and regulations which indicate increased local barriers in countries like China. Smaller countries in Europe take on a dual approach. On the one hand an increased focus on the local industry and on cooperation in-between countries can be seen. On the other hand, there is a tendency of some countries to isolate themselves more, e.g. Brexit. One of Mr. Albada Jelgersma´s concerns is that international cooperation in the development of digital platforms does not get as much attention and focus as the national orientation.

Another important trend that Mr. Albada Jelgersma highlights is ethics, which is becoming increasingly important among digital platform providers. When data is feeding autonomous self-learning systems that makes decisions, man is not any longer in direct control of the decisions. How can human values then be maintained?