Digital Transformation Podcast – ARC Advisory Group’s Paula Hollywood Interviews Joe Nichols
ARC Senior Analyst, Paula Hollywood, recently interviewed Joe Nichols, Co-Founder and President of newly launched Itus Digital. They discussed the motivation for launching an APM company at this stage of market maturity, the importance of creating asset strategies, the development process, and how the Itus Asset Twin drives APM value.
APM Challenges Central to Genesis of Itus Digital
Paula’s opening question was, “You and the Itus team have a long history in the APM space. Can you tell us what motivated you to start a new APM company at this stage of market maturity?”
“Our motivators for building an APM solutions company were really multifaceted,” responded Nichols. He stated that a big motivator is the challenge of how to optimize without increasing the operating cost or the risks to people in the environment. APM now has proven value proposition; lower maintenance costs, increased production and availability, and lower risk. Nichols believes there are large aspects of the APM market that are unaddressed. The veteran APM team at Itus enjoys solving complex problems and believes that a new approach and new business model could fundamentally shift adoption of APM.
Addressing APM Challenges
When asked what were the challenges in the APM market that impacted development of the Itus solution, Nichols indicated three common themes emerged from their research: cost, particularly the big upfront costs associated with software licensing and implementation; the complexity of monolith applications stitched together via acquisitions typically utilizing older, less efficient software architectures; and the capabilities of existing solutions. Nichols elaborated, stating that existing solutions are either enterprise APM apps requiring large implementation teams or consulting services, or analytic/AI/ML applications to solve for specific equipment anomalies or focus just on anomaly detection.
Nichols summarized how Itus addressed those challenges. To solve for cost concerns, Itus offers a subscription licensing based on actual usage as well as to drive an onboarding process which completely de-risks the customer from massive up-front investments. To lower complexity, Itus has defined an efficient architecture that allows for technical deployment on-prem or cloud in minutes to effectively eliminate deployment complexity. The functionality of the process is simplified with an intuitive user experience and workflow in the belief that equipment and domain experts should be able to easily navigate the APM process and easily measure APM program implementation and value. In terms of capabilities, the Itus solution is out-of-the-box ready thus offering rapid time-to-value. Itus has fully integrated the process of implementing an asset strategy and tightly coupling it with analytical models to identify when risks emerge, equipment health degrades, or when strategy activities are not completed. The base of this capability is an embedded and extensible asset strategy library covering 200 of the most common equipment types. The combination of the Itus application process, strategy library, and asset twin models enable customers to rapidly be up and running.
Asset Twin Drives APM Value
When asked to explain the Asset Twin concept, Nichols addressed it in terms of the digital twin and acknowledged the variability in how that term is interpreted in the marketplace. In addition, he stressed the belief that the core constructs of a digital twin are critical for driving APM value. Itus views an Asset Twin as a software defined asset, connected and analyzed in real-time to generate proactive insights as emerging threats are detected. It also believes that APM use cases, such as condition-based maintenance, failure prediction, and risk identification, must be firmly grounded with an asset strategy. Nichols summarized, “an Asset Twin is the fusion of an asset strategy with a digital twin. You must have both elements to ensure you optimize the performance of your assets.”
Taking a Different Approach
“Does using this methodology allow you to approach the APM market differently, and who do you see as your target market?” asked Hollywood.
According to Nichols, “there are huge aspects of the industrial space that have challenges with unplanned failures, high maintenance costs, and the inability to identify emerging risks. The challenge these companies have is that APM only applies to a small portion of assets. Maybe they have limited IT and change management resources, or their particular ROI on APM initiatives does not align with existing solution costs, so they don’t do it. We have made APM easier across the board, but that does not mean it cannot be used in highly sophisticated APM environments. Our target market is anyone looking to solve for core APM use cases, such as equipment failure prediction, condition-based maintenance, or operational risk identification in an intuitive, scalable model that can be matched to their APM investment capability.”