Cleantech Market Intelligence
OSIsoft Wants Its PI Database to Sit at the Heart of IIoT
At OSIsoft’s EMEA Users Conference, the company set out a clear vision for its PI database: to remain resolutely an infrastructure provider and build out its significant number of partnerships. However, the majority of time was dedicated to its customers’ experiences delivering value from their operational data in innovative ways.
OSIsoft Wants to Position PI at the Heart of IIoT
The utility industry will recognize PI as the most widely used SCADA historian. Yet, PI’s scope extends well beyond utilities; it has a strong presence in many industries, including oil & gas, power generation, manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals. The conference had strong representation from across its core verticals, achieving a record attendance of 1,200 people—3 times the number that attended just 2 years ago.
This remarkable growth is indicative of the increasing value of operational data. A decade ago, PI was used to store data from operational control systems, and few people outside of this domain would access this data. Today, OSIsoft wants to position its database at the heart of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). With a strong focus on digital transformation and IT/OT convergence, the Users Conference focused on ways OSIsoft, its customers, and its partners are helping customers deliver value by using operational data in new ways. A large part of this drive is to provide access to PI data to more users, but in a controlled and measured manner.
OSIsoft Must Work Hard to Raise PI’s Profile within Its Clients’ Organizations
This can be a challenge in many organizations, where PI is often not known beyond the departments that currently use it. IIoT, Industry 4.0, and big data create a huge growth opportunity for OSIsoft, but it must work hard to win this new business. The hype surrounding IIoT and big data is driven by myriad cloud-based IoT platform providers promoting the use of relational databases or Hadoop. OSIsoft warns against the proliferation of cloud-based data services, as these lead to the creation of yet more data siloes—the enemy of any large-scale data discovery project that integrates data from multiple sources.
Although OSIsoft has demonstrated success with its product, the company has to make itself heard through the noise of the big data hype machine. And while it is a profitable business, its marketing resources are limited. As a result, OSIsoft is using its biggest group of supporters to help emphasize the message that PI is a critical tool in IIoT data analytics. Many of OSIsoft’s users are also cheerleaders for the product. The Users Conference was full of customers discussing how other users can gain more value out of their PI licenses.
OSIsoft’s Partners Will Be Critical to Its Future Success
OSIsoft has another ace up its sleeve: a long list of partners that are also targeting the IIoT space. This list includes some impressive names: Esri, SAP, Qualcomm, SAS, IBM, Honeywell, Microsoft, and Cisco.
These vendors recognize PI’s strength and want to ensure that their products integrate seamlessly with PI. In the world of IoT, everyone wants to be OSIsoft’s friend—which is unsurprising, given OSIsoft is a monopoly in many industries. However, it is not just OSIsoft’s market penetration that makes it an attractive partner.
From its earliest days, OSIsoft has resisted the temptation to expand beyond its core business. It is resolutely an infrastructure business. While it has augmented the core PI database with various tools—notifications of anomalous events, data visualization, and integration tools—these are not applications. This means that OSIsoft has no competing products with anyone keen to connect their devices or integrate their applications. In the past, I have been critical of this approach, but my stance is weakening. As the IIoT world develops, OSIsoft’s agnosticism toward applications makes more and more sense: it can partner with a whole raft of vendors and consolidate its position as a market-leading repository for operational data.