A conversation with Mike Noyes, Honeywell
A candid conversation around enterprise mobility’s role in the Digital Transformation.
Across the enterprise spectrum, work is changing. New technologies are shifting business capabilities that have elevated expectations across the board. Employees are gaining new skillsets to stay abreast of these emerging technologies, but they are in need of the proper support and devices to succeed. We spoke with Mike Noyes, Sr. Director of Mobility, Scan, and Print at Honeywell, to dive into this topic and see how enterprise mobility and other NexGen technologies are impacting the digital transformation.
Q: What does digital transformation mean to Honeywell?
Noyes: The term digital transformation has become more pervasive in the context of today’s industry. Digitization is now more of a priority for so many organizations and for Honeywell, this means bringing together brilliant machines, analytics and people. Taking that network and a multitude of industrial devices that are connected to them and putting them into a system that allows us to monitor, collect, exchange, analyze and deliver value on those types of insights.
Now, we're working much smarter and we can run prognostic and diagnostics on all our assets. To me, that’s the biggest part of what digital transformation means. It’s about the network of sensors and connected devices that are going to impact how we live and work over the next few decades.
Q: What role do you see mobility playing in the digital transformation of the enterprise landscape?
Noyes: I've had the honor of leading the mobility business and came in at a great time where Honeywell was investing heavily in a platform called Mobility Edge. We recognized our industry needed a reboot when it came to productivity; that companies needed to find ways to capitalize on the digital transformation. It was pretty clear that the industry was changing very rapidly, and many developed countries were just no longer able to find double-digit returns when it came to productivity and bottom-line numbers.
Mobility will play a vital role in that future, which is so crucial because it’s very flexible and easily dispatched. Mobility also can be affordable for the enterprise and has a breadth of security options to keep users, devices and data safe.
Looking across the globe, each industry has its unique catalyst, but what really mattered was technology. That's why we've made such a huge investment in this Mobility Edge platform and rolling it out at scale. Whether it's a PDA, terminal style or a device mounted on a vehicle, we see mobility as a driver in allowing our customers the ability to grow.
Q: What types of emerging technology do you think will be most prevalent in 2030?
Noyes: Honeywell is a $40 billion business composed of a multitude of different industries and segments; certainly, we can leverage emerging technology across the enterprise and find the right niche application.
One theme we see a lot is the idea of automated data capture via artificial intelligence and machine learning. A lot of our tools are finding ways to help customers scan and grab barcodes that may be damaged. or difficult to read. AI can drive productivity so later this year, we'll be announcing a new platform based on a software layer that delivers artificial intelligence on a continuous learning platform for the end user.
Another trend we’re seeing is the rise of autonomous vehicles. The testing for self-driving cars in the United States is already at an advanced stage and companies like Tesla, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are pushing this concept forward to the point where both enterprise and commercial usage is no longer a futuristic technology, but one that’s not too far away.
Over the next ten years, we should also see major improvements to 3D printing. We've had this concept for a long time, especially in our industry, but we should see more widespread usage soon. While we do a lot of rapid prototype work to get concepts in the hands of consumers, soon we're talking about the ability to print jet engines or entire automobiles. We are taking advanced and complex objects that used to be built with traditional manufacturing methods and flipping the script. These projects had long lead times and needed complex building materials. Soon, we're going to see an onset of printed parts that will help us bring advanced concepts to the market with a really short lead time.
Q: How do you leverage emerging technologies to benefit your customers across your key verticals?
Noyes: This starts with listening to the customer up-front and seeing where their needs lie. Research shows only about 5 percent of companies are able to succeed in their digital transformation, most of them being the marquee enterprises that impact our lives every day.
But when we're out in the field talking to our customers, we see failure is largely due to a lack of purpose-built industrial platforms and devices. This is where Honeywell invests our R&D budgets to find specific solutions for these end users.
For retail, this can be building RFID sleds to pair up with mobile computers. Companies are transforming as employees move from task-based workers to knowledge-based. To achieve this transition, employees need to be equipped with purpose-built devices and platforms that work parallel with their roles. As well, training to be able to interface a computer with a sled or utilize a platform to track inventory. You have to be close to the end user to create a winning solution for all.
Another area is the connected enterprise. This is leveraging real-time visibility to recover production capacity and drive greater efficiency and optimization across the workforce. We have execution systems in place to digitize manufacturing and help warehouse plants or factories to optimize their business processes. Plant workers can see enterprise operations in a real-time dashboard, which can signal areas of concern from a productivity standpoint or even machine failure. Predictive analytics can show if a server or switch needs to be replaced before it breaks.
These insights are also impactful in the aerospace vertical as teams can monitor the asset performance of jet engines and other parts of planes that are flying around the world. Everyone wants a safer and more reliable product; now, we can signal in real-time to airline crews if there is an issue or if a plane should be brought in for inspection. This helps to reduce operational costs and maintenance, but the real value is on passenger safety.
Q: How do you help to futureproof the operations of your customers?
Noyes: The key to future-proofing an enterprise is scale. We want to develop a product that when the onset of 5G becomes available, they don't have to just throw these devices away. This is why platforming approaches are so important to Honeywell within the business I lead. You must have a platform where we can infuse technology into these purpose-built assets that keep devices updated. Our clients can be stress-free about the risk of obsolescence or buying a device that will not be useful or function in two years’ time.
We touched on this earlier, but the ability to use advanced analytics to predict events before they happen is also a driving force in this trend. Our operational intelligence asset performance management software delivers a lot of value for customers to increase their asset reliability while being able to optimize maintenance costs. This mitigates operational risks and ultimately reduces the total cost of ownership.
Q: How do you think IT teams can better prepare for maintaining and supporting this new emerging technology?
Noyes: Stealing an old Wayne Gretzky line, IT professionals need to be able to “skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it is”. They need to ensure that when they're evaluating devices or making an investment decision, they choose assets that give them the most flexibility and scalability throughout their organization.
IT professionals are constantly tasked with changing priorities in today’s business environment. This means sourcing the perfect solution and finding the technologies that allow them to grow their firm with the speed of new technology that's on the horizon. We can no longer rely on an old break-fix model. Where we use a device until failure and then throw it away, enterprises need to be more comprehensive in the way they think about life cycle support, and IT professionals need to think more about a real shared risk with the OEM.
Q: What are some barriers to technical/organizational change/mobile tech adoption you are seeing, and how can we overcome them?
Noyes: There is a clear skills gap across the enterprise ecosystem. This is evident when you're dealing with your customers at the end user level. It’s about needing more young people to be exposed to coding and STEM disciplines. I think we're making a lot of significant progress on that front, but there's always more we can do. Looking at Honeywell, our outreach is investing in STEM leadership programs. We have a program with the Georgia Institute of Technology designed to help close gaps in computer science education.
These barriers are also a lack of wanting to try and adopt new strategies. Most companies know you either change or die; you must adapt to grow. But I think many realize that so much of what you do is in the power of your people. Unfortunately, many long-time employees lack these emerging skillsets, yet there is a loyalty to these members of the team. Going out and finding new talent also can be difficult because of record-low unemployment and competition from other enterprises looking for the same resources. This is where our ability to help make purpose-built tools comes into play. We aren’t selling a product, but rather helping end users deploy new tactics and become more productive at the end of the day. We don't want to come in, make a sale to the customer and not talk to them again for ten years until they want another device. We want to truly be a big part of their business model; to have frequent contact with them and be a partner versus a supplier.
Q: What is the value of partnerships in the digital transformation landscape – for you & your customers? How does Stratix add value to Honeywell?
Noyes: Partnerships are absolutely imperative; the world is just too big and too complex for one company to try and do it alone. The way we evangelize these digital transformations and with our solutions, you need to have partners like Stratix that understand your value proposition and motives.
When you think about digital transformation, partners not only help you get your message in front of the customers, but they help you build a pipeline and develop scale. Partners can show you customers challenges which is crucial in developing product roadmaps and driving successful deployments of new solutions.
It is imperative to look for somebody who is specialized and has a grasp of the pain points of end users. Partnerships are about developing great products not just at the conceptual stage, but out in real-world terms. They provide rationale and insights that drive projects forward. Partners can help get lab teams out of the vacuum to understand what our customers need and the situations and hardships they are going through. This is how we can drive productivity and create the tools and strategies to help enterprises embrace their transformations.