Digital Infrastructure (DI) lies at the core of digital transformations of economies and businesses.
In a naive way it may be compared to the computer operating system (OS). Users do not use it directly, but it drives such popular applications like Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and, of course, Internet Explorer.
In manufacturing, applications belong to business processes; when chained they create value - product or service. So DI is an OS for a business. It may be manufacturing of original equipment or engineering services. But DI makes big step forward: it connects the processes into a whole one and shares the data between all the parts. Connectivity adds to business transparency and agility – two goods in hysterical demand today.
Next big thing is that DI adds structure to a business: it links the processes in an optimal way to maximize the each one and the whole business outcomes. Links are alive: they are continuously re-validated.
The DI optimization skills have another interesting application: process health monitoring. Is the process out of normal boundaries? An example is monitoring the information credibility.
In other words, DI knows about business more than any other person in the company. DI is the modern know-how. To work with DI you do not need to sign NDA – non-disclosure agreement. The DI enormity and diversity makes it impossible for some hacker to stole, decipher, and maintain it.
Any other person may be a process engineer, or control, or mechanical one, or project manager. DI represents any discipline as a set of data structures, algorithms, and business rules.
DI breaks the boundaries between disciplines. In that respect, any new technology like forward osmosis, or advanced desalination, or ZLD, or brine treatment are but plugins into DI. In other words, no new non-digital technology may succeed without DI.
Recent example is Oasys, a mono-technology company. After nine years and $70M of funding, it has ceased commercial operations. "The company evolved from an initial ambition to be a desalination company, to latterly being focused on brine management and ZLD" (BlueTech Research).
DI is the company window to the outer world. It takes care of search engine optimization (SEO), website activities analysis, marketing campaigns and e-advertising.
DI maintains business relationships with outer world as well: it tracks vendors and suppliers, the clients' feedback, follows promising startups, and participates in knowledge sharing.
The above-mentioned definition of DI extends far beyond the compound business space of such product groups as PLM, ERP, project tracking, business process management, knowledge-sharing and data-mining technologies.
DI split the business world into two groups: those who create DI and those who serve it. DI is a mediator between the smart and the dumb or as Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser put it without mincing words - between binary one and zero. I do not know which side is better: first should hone deep abstract thinking and live in non-real non-color unemotional world. The second group will work under pressure making each day only important decisions: the trivial ones are left to DI.
All the engineering services providers, who stick to their core products like detail mechanical design or electrical one will be on the dumb side, each driving its own taxi under the new Uber.
You may probably think that DI is a matter of far distant future? Then crenger is the future.