2020: Digitalisation, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Are Booming

Digitality, robotics and artificial intelligence are something that we all have come across many times before. However, by 2020, they have finally found their way into practical corporate data management, production, and operation processes.

For companies, the amount and quality of data are of critical importance. If information is not contained somewhere in the company's system, it cannot be digitally utilised, for example, in robotics or artificial intelligence-based solutions.

“There is a lot of talk about digitality, robotics, and artificial intelligence, but the capabilities for introduction of related new solutions are overestimated much too often. For example, I have often come across cases where use of great computing power and making of intelligent cloud-based prediction solutions is desired. How can this be possible, if the company’s information system is not efficient and the data quality not high enough?” asks Juha Nissilä, CEO of Alma Consulting Oy.

Critical information and basic data must be in order

Storing critical corporate information on network drives and in Excel files is something from the past. Nevertheless, in many companies, it is still a reality.

“When the important data of a company are in the digital format and accessible in real time for anyone who needs them, market situation predictability and corporate decision-making are quicker, more efficient, and in line with the actual circumstances,” Nissilä emphasizes.

Increased use of industrial robots and automation also requires a functional data structure for support.

“Inclusion of all plant assets under a functional data system allows better utilisation of new robotics and artificial intelligence solutions with improved quality. Based on proper source data, predictions of unprecedented quality can also be made,” Nissilä states.

Better and more accurate predictions

The most important of business decisions are based on predictions. Therefore, it is important that the data utilized in the prediction process are as correct as possible.

“Correct data of high quality are important when predicting new plant investments or when planning preventive plant maintenance. If you add to this equation the new IoT possibilities available on the corporate level and a pinch of quickly developing artificial intelligence, the requirements to a company’s data structure are such that can never be met by mere network drives,” Nissilä continues.

IT assets are becoming part of corporate asset management

In the future, the data structure needs of companies will be similar regardless of the field of activity. Real-time and reliable data are important for everyone. Managing changes in production-critical data systems is becoming more prominent in the industry domain. This especially concerns fault repairs, but also modernisation and investment projects.

“The difference between automation and IT projects has decreased. In the past, they used to be clearly apart. In many cases, the IT division used to jump in on automation-related investment projects having realised that the projects would inevitably change the existing system and software environment as well. This often resulted in unexpected costs, which were sometimes considerable,” Nissilä points out.

“Today, IT assets are increasingly considered as part of the management of the company’s other assets, such as real estate, machinery, and the company’s human capital. The easier it is to outline the interdependencies between different areas, the easier it is to avoid excessive work related to supervision of the subcontractors’ operations and to procurement.”

A good data system is the key to meeting regulatory requirements

In the future, demands to corporate data systems will be more stringent, since regulatory requirements continue to tighten. Customers are known to demand more and better products and services from the companies, but municipalities and the state do the same. Various business, production, and certification-related audits and reports must be taken care of in good time and their contents must be in order.

“A functional data system allows timely and correct meeting of regulatory requirements. However, the requirements change from time to time, which means that making of the necessary changes and updates in the system must be easy and quick. Because of this, continuous change management is one of the key issues in 2020, and companies must take it seriously,” Nissilä says.