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Event coverage: Innovators and innovations at IFS World Conference

Jan. 22, 2020
Event showcased latest technology advances including AI for advanced scheduling and predictive maintenance.

The recent IFS World Conference (October 2019) focused squarely on its customers. Those successfully using innovations to disrupt the status quo were celebrated, and innovative ways IFS and its partners are helping them increase business value were showcased.

At the outset of the event, CEO Darren Roos announced that IFS entered into an agreement to acquire Astea, a service management solution provider. In addition to expanding its global footprint in the field service management (FSM) market, the acquisition is an opportunity to introduce IFS products to Astea users.

Service in the Spotlight with Marne Martin, president of IFS Service Management Business Unit

“Service drives revenue, profit, and customer experience, so everyone needs to care about service,” explained Marne Martin, president of IFS Service Management Business Unit. “The world is transitioning to a service economy, and servitization requires a fit-for-purpose service management platform.”

Additional announcements included the rollout of the IFS Aurena user experience across the entire IFS Apps 10 suite, powered by a new native API model; IFS joined the OpenAPI Initiative (OAI); and IFS went live on the full IFS Apps 10 suite globally this year, making it a customer of its own products. For industries such as aerospace, defense, and government, compliance support for cloud-based International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) was revealed.

Value and vision

IFS’ commitment to delivering trust and choice was stressed at the conference. For example, its customers are not pushed to new software releases, technologies, or the cloud – they can wait until they are ready for it and convinced of its value. Customers can choose their applications, payment model, deployment option, maintenance, and how the software is used.

AI-driven Predictive Maintenance with Bob De Caux, VP of AI and RPA

Driving change and creating value through digital transformation is another priority. IFS Labs is continually exploring opportunities in digital twins, contextual intelligence, augmented and mixed reality, the internet of things (IoT), automation and robotics, advanced simulation and optimization, additive manufacturing, and other transformative tools.

Another repeated theme was ensuring the “cool” technologies are actually useful to the business. IFS is leveraging artificial intelligence for advanced scheduling and predictive maintenance; mixed reality and wearable technology for augmented collaboration; and machine learning for its Aurena Bot intelligent autonomous assistant. Advanced technologies will also enable remote assistance for service and maintenance – another means to reduce costs and increase margins.

Enabling the Future with Christian Pedersen, chief product officer

In an interview, Colin Elkins, global industry director for process manufacturing at IFS, predicted the shape of process manufacturing will change and tools such as digital twins will help to develop ingenious plant designs. He believes the biggest change will come when the IoT is reversed – when sensors change the settings on machine controllers instead of just notifying when action is needed. Talking back to an IoT sensor is the next step, he said.

Tia-Clair Toomey, Fittest Woman on Earth winner at the 2017, 2018, and 2019 CrossFit Games, offers advice for future challengers: “Focus on the things you can control. Set little goals as you work toward the larger goal.”

Leading innovation

Leaders need to learn to support sustained innovation, said Linda Hill, faculty chair of the Leadership Initiative and a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. Key takeaways from her keynote address include:

  • Don’t worry about having too many cooks (innovators) in the kitchen because “a leader’s job is to get the cooks to cook together.”
  • Surround yourself with diverse points of view and make sure the minority voice is heard.
  • Let employees volunteer to innovate, deviate, experiment, and make decisions.
  • Support parallel experiments to accelerate innovation, and make sure the innovations are both novel and useful.
About the Author: Sheila Kennedy
About the Author

Sheila Kennedy | CMRP

Sheila Kennedy, CMRP, is a professional freelance writer specializing in industrial and technical topics. She established Additive Communications in 2003 to serve software, technology, and service providers in industries such as manufacturing and utilities, and became a contributing editor and Technology Toolbox columnist for Plant Services in 2004. Prior to Additive Communications, she had 11 years of experience implementing industrial information systems. Kennedy earned her B.S. at Purdue University and her MBA at the University of Phoenix. She can be reached at [email protected] or www.linkedin.com/in/kennedysheila.

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