Building a safer, greener tomorrow

Recently, Microsoft published a customer success story for the Bühler Insights project. Bühler Insights is a digital platform grown in-house, which captures telemetry data from a customer’s production plant and provides data visualization and analytics. It’s a cloud native, IoT-powered platform to bring digital innovation to the industrial food value chain.

For us at Option4.0 AG, it’s a great honor to work together with Microsoft engineering teams and Bühler to enable this platform. So today, we’d like to share some learnings we have gathered from working together in the Bühler project.

Be innovative and take risks

Success requires taking calculated risk. Although the Bühler platform is now quite known and a successful reference case, this initiative started back in 2015. Back in 2015, it took a lot of courage from management team to put money on the table and invest big in digitalization. Everyone was talking about digital innovation, but nobody wanted to be the first to jump in the water. But for Bühler, this was a long-term process with a long-term vision. When investing in digital innovation, organizations need to understand that these are long-term investments that require patience and stewardship.

Choose your friends wisely and keep them close

Early into this process, Bühler chose Microsoft Azure as the platform to build on. Many times, we observe organizations who want to avoid a lock-in, or want to reduce dependencies on a single vendor, leading to multi-cloud architectures. This is not a valuable approach. Multi-cloud architectures will make your project’s time-to-market longer and your development and operational costs higher.

You need to choose your friends. Successfully building digital innovation requires an eco-system of trust. If you don’t trust your platform vendors, you are not building on a solid foundation (or you have chosen the wrong partners).

Bühler’s commitment to Microsoft led to a reciprocal commitment from Microsoft towards Bühler. Bühler engineering team has received support from Microsoft’s Commercial Software Engineering, Azure Engineering teams, from the support organization, and from a committed account team. Such support from Microsoft as platform vendor has led to some key benefits:

  • speeding up the velocity of the project through solution accelerators
  • mitigating and reducing technical risk through the direct involvement of engineering
  • a quite prominent collaboration between these two heavyweights (see HERE, HERE, and HERE). There are many more, this is just a sample :)

When you follow a multi-cloud approach, it will be difficult to get that level of commitment from any of the vendors.

Following a multi-cloud approach also forces you to design using the minimum common denominator principle, since you can’t leverage any platform’s own competitive advantages. You are hobbling yourself with this approach.

Have a clear and compelling target

You can’t argue against Bühler’s targets:

How do we feed the next billion people?

Help customers reduce their power consumption by 50% (a climate change-focused goal).

Reduce waste in the food value chain (it is estimated that 30% of food is wasted in the production/distribution process).

Reduce water consumption by 50% (another environment-focused goal)

They are moonshot goals.

They are challenging and daunting.

Yet, they are inspiring. Motivating.

It helps to repeat the goals over and over again. So when things get tough, being reminded about the broader picture helps you find your energy back. In this regard, Bühler has been quite effective too. Their management team has repeatedly talked about these challenges and Bühler’s commitment to solve them, such as their Chief Technology Officer Ian Roberts (see HERE and HERE).

We look forward to what Bühler will bring next. We look forward to its innovation and its contribution to the success of the world’s food value chain. At Option4.0, we are honored to contribute to this compelling cause.

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