Interviews, Smart Manufacturing & Industry 4.0

Interview: How to tackle the COVID-19 challenge in manufacturing

The Industry of Things World 2020 is the leading event on the industrial Internet of Things. From Smart Manufacturing specialists and strategists, to IoT newbies, manufacturing and process optimization experts, data geeks to cloud genius, all gather in Berlin and online to get on top of the 4th Industrial Revolution.


In the run-up to the event, we.CONECT spoke with Matthias Roese (Chief Technologist Mfg, Auto & IoT) from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, about the impact of Covid-19 on manufacturing and their virtual presentation at the Industry of Things World.

we.CONECT: The pop in your job ––What is most exciting about your role, and why are you passionate about your job?

Matthias Roese: Having worked for two iconic industry giants, Hewlett Packard and Siemens – having the role of evangelizing customers and colleagues on the potential of IT/OT convergence is stunning. Every single project with customers adds another perspective to the role and the possibilities seems to be endless. Especially these days, during the pandemic, helping our customers becoming more independent from hick ups due to Corona is exciting, it helps all of us in our everday life, this is really rewarding.

we.CONECT: What would you say is the main initial challenge that you face when you had implemented with some of the big customers any of the IIoT Projects ?

Matthias Roese: Well, a couple of years back we had an uphill battle when it comes to understanding the value and accepting that there might be a different way. I guess, given lots of successful projects, we generally accepted theres opportunity – the human factor is still a challenge, IIoT projects make processes more transparent, point to challenges and the perceived efficient status quo becomes challenged. To accept this, to pull together in the right direction remains a challenge. Nevertheless, during the last couple of months, since the pandemic started, this became much better, given the fact most companies understood that they have to go new ways to cater with the new reality of a con-Corona world.

we.CONECT: Where were the pitfalls that determined the success of these projects ?


Matthias Roese: The perception of technology will make it happen – its not the technology that will make you better, moving from an automated to an autonomous environment – it’s the combination of People, Process and Technology. This quite often leads to tensions between organizations within enterprises which never had to work together, finding common ground, even understanding each other requires a different mindset. We´ve created the Model of a Digital Journey Map, which will help all relevant stakeholders to understand what Digital Transformation means and what requirements for certain parts of the enterprises are, this helps significantly to understand each other and drive collaboration.

we.CONECT: How do you think COVID-19 will be affecting the adoption of IIoT in companies? Will it accelerate the adoption?


Matthias Roese: As said, it accelerates tremendously. Topics we discussed the last 2-3 years around Closed Loop Manufacturing, Automation to Autonomous or the Digital Journey Map gain ground at significant speed as the outcomes will significantly help the customers to gain outcomes and most importantly ensure the capability to deliver – lots of our customers are in system critical business (Food & beverage, Pharma, Chemicals or Utilities), we all depend on their capabilities to deliver, even during a pandemic and we see enormous demand to drive IIoT projects – mostly with Board level support.

we.CONECT: You have been at the Industry Of Things World since 2016 , what would you say is the main reason why you like coming with us?

Matthias Roese: In the meantime it almost becomes a reunion of a group which believed from the beginning in the Industry 4.0 story. Seeing how the fair grew, also geographically was really great. Given the structure in terms of an very focused fair with a very selected group of attendees gives the right level of interaction and the variety of topics is very well selected and a great combination of forward looking topics and ready to integrate solutions.

we.CONECT: What has changed at HPE during the pandemic?

Matthias Roese: On our end, the main focus of the board is really to make sure, all team members around the globe are safe, while serving our customers is ensured. Fortunately we´ve been capable to work from home in almost every capacity, so beside our maintenance crews and the factories we´ve switched into virtual in March 2020 basically over night. As lots of our customers had to do the same, we´ve seen significant demand, especially in our new Greenlake as a service offering, providing additional IT Capacity without classical CAPEX invests. This allows our customers to add IT capacity without heavy financial impacts, moving into the OPEX world.

we.CONECT: Looking forward what do you expect for 2021?

Matthias Roese: Last year we spoke here on the Enigneers perspective on Automated to autonomous – what we see right now, this was and is (even more) spot on today. More and more devices are transmitting data, it is collected and somehow processed. What the reality in large customer but also in the SMB segment shows is, that this data is not really used. Our focus these days is deploying projects to leverage the data already out there to make autonomous production with AI based decision support, and for innovative customers also AI based decisions a reality.

If you allow me a personal note – we´ve engaged also heavily into the GAIA-X movement driven within the EU, as I personally believe this will be a significant step forward in becoming a better world from various perspectives and I guess the impact will be even larger than what we´ve seen the last years on Industry 4.0 – this will be huge and i´d like to encourage every organization to have at least a close look into the exciting stuff that happens in GAIA-X! Data sovereignty will be one of the next big ticket items…!

we.CONECT:Thank You for the interview!

Join the upcoming Industry of Things World in September 2021

About Hewlett Packard

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is the global edge-to-cloud platform-as-a-service company that helps organizations accelerate outcomes by unlocking value from all of their data, everywhere. Built on decades of reimagining the future and innovating to advance the way we live and work, HPE delivers unique, open and intelligent technology solutions, with a consistent experience across all clouds and edges, to help customers develop new business models, engage in new ways, and increase operational performance.

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