This was Indumation 2024

Coteng booth at Indumation 2024 with Didier Stickens and Dominique Weyers talking at the desk.

Transforming the result of the work of data scientists, like a trained AI model, into a user-friendly application for the organisation is a challange. Certainly in times where IT departments are already overloaded with projects.

Didier Stickens

Coteng was present at Indumation 2024 in Kortrijk Xpo. The fair for industrial automation and industry 4.0 in the Benelux. In this blog, we share our findings from this trade fair. Visitors had the opportunity to gain new insights and best practices at the expert classes or find inspiration from various exhibitors. At our booth, we explained how companies can use digital innovation to get ahead in their industry. Since we offer customized solutions for specific business challenges, this triggered many visitors to reflect on their own needs. We are happy to share our findings.

Transform data into operational tools

Over the past years many companies have added data scientists into their teams. Given the growing volume and significance of data collected by companies, the presence of data scientists investigating and processing this data has become standard. In an increasing number of organizations data scientists are also engaged in developing AI models. The focus is on collecting, cleaning and preparing data for machine learning. To execute these tasks efficiently, data scientists utilize specific environments or languages (often Python) which allows them to do this type of work in a flexible and productive way without requiring software development skills. 

The difficulty today is that many data scientists are struggling to transform the result of their work into operational tools for the rest of the organization. While a data scientist can independently set up a dashboard with some KPI’s using visualisation tools like PowerBI or Tableau. Transforming an AI model into a tool accessible to production operators or planners without specialized data science knowledge is a bigger challenge. Coteng has worked on several projects with data analysts to address this challenge creating user-friendly applications based on the models or the data generated by data scientists.   

Low code solutions

Another reason data scientists visited our booth was some frustration with their applications no longer working after the release of a new version of the tools they use. Data scientists their passion lies more in analysis than software development. Therefore, when they are asked to make an application for their organization they are driven into ‘platform’-like or scripting (low code) solutions. These solutions allow them to automate certain processes with minimal or no coding effort. For simpler processes this can indeed be a convenient and efficient way to automate workflows without the need of a real software developer. However, several data scientists we spoke were disappointed about the stability of such solutions. When a new version of the platform or implemented libraries was released, the application frequently needed modifications to continue functioning. This feeling may resonate with those who have used plugins when making a WordPress website.  

Slowdown of the digital transformation process

Recognize the situation ? Your department has identified several opportunities to automate processes or improve the customer experience but the internal developers team already has their agenda filled for the next 18 months. This was one of the frequently asked questions at our booth at Indumation: “When can you start? We have been waiting for a year.” The next question is often: “Can you work with our existing internal systems or databases ?” Of course, in modern IT environments many different applications specialized in specific domains, are interconnected through interfaces (API’s). It allows departments to use the same data sources, avoiding duplicate data maintenance, and yet work with applications that are optimal for their respective process. If you want a first version within 3 to 6 months, come and talk to us.

Vision applications

On a trade show focusing on the automation of the production area, it may not be surprising to note that many companies are looking for vision software to improve their quality control. However, it is surprising to notice that several companies were unable to find the specific software they needed.  

NIS2 regulation

The NIS2 regulation is a European initiative that came into effect in 2023, requiring member states to implement the improved cybersecurity regulation before October 2024. The intention is to substantially improve the collective cybersecurity in Europe.  While the previous version had a relatively limited scope, mainly focusing on companies active in sensitive sectors such as electricity and other fundamental supplies, the current version has substantially enlarged its scope. This expansion aims to make sure a cyber-attack does not cause substantial issues to the normal functioning of a country. The regulation does not only require organizations to work on cybersecurity in a technical way, it also requires them to establish procedures to prevent cyber-attacks. Additionaly, organizations need to have contingency plans in place in order to guarantee business continuity. Although several of the required actions will overlap with those required for GDPR, complying with the NIS2 regulation will require extra efforts from many organizations. Needless to say, this also adds extra pressure on IT organizations. Read more about this topic in our blog: Is your company ready for the new Network and Information Security (NIS2) legislation ? - Coteng

SAAS applications

The use of SAAS has become common practice over the last decade. Now that some organisations have been using them for several years, some negative experiences start to surface. The connectivity of some of these SAAS solutions, although often advertised as an advantage, seems far more difficult and costly in reality. However, the most frequently heard complaint is the lack of control over costs. In Aug 2022 Gartner reported already on substantial increases in SAAS pricing. Since companies typically pay a monthly fee per user, price increases or a growth in users within the organization can have a substantial impact on the budget. It is a well-known strategy of SAAS providers to increase prices once they have reached a comfortable market penetration and customers are to a certain extend locked-in. The latter does not make switching to another solution impossible, but it will require substantial effort and cost. Most of the questions we received about SAAS at our booth were related to connecting and integrating them in a cost-efficient way. Something Coteng is happy to help with, given our years of experience in providing connectivity between applications.  

A lot of interesting opportunities and challenges lie ahead in automation and digital transformation for the industrial sector. Embracing these changes will enable companies to better position themselves for the future.

Reflect with our experts on your digital challenges. We may propose solutions that pleasantly surprise and push your company forward into the future.