Data is about your business, not just technology and algorithms
Nowadays data is everywhere. It is the hot topic of the moment, for businesses and in the general public. There are heated debates in politics about “Data”, data wars, and even a new science entirely dedicated to data!
When it comes to data, you might be wondering, should you build an enterprise architecture with data as your starting point (data-centric)? Or build a data structure around the existing landscape (data-driven)? What about data lakes? Do we actually have any data?
Well, tackling data is highly dependent on the specific configuration of your organization history, business, and IT landscape.
At Cuurios we believe that Data should be CENTRAL to your organization. Gathering, managing, and acting on your data is your core business. But there are no one-size-fit-all solutions. Data is a mindset, the most important is to just do it, however small the first steps might be.
In this blog post I am giving some insights on how we see Data at Cuurios and sketching the first steps towards data proficiency!
It sometimes feels like data is something new, something very hot, the core of the 21st century technological battlefield. But data has been there for a long time! Measuring, gathering and analyzing data is at the core of the scientific and industrial revolution. Without Galileo gathering data on the moons of Jupiter with his telescope, there would have been no proof that Copernicus was right, and we might still be thinking that the earth is at the center of the universe.
Data is not a thing, a disincarnated entity that exists for and of itself. Data is grounded in reality, it is information that represents assets, people, events in the real world. Data is what makes large-scale organizations possible. Without data, how would you know what the state of you inventory is without having to recount every time? What the state of a critical asset is without having to look at it?
The first form of writing ever discovered, the Sumerian tablets , were accounting records of production and exchanges of goods, i.e. data.
What has changed to make data the focus of a new gold rush?
- Storage capacity has increased exponentially. When a Sumerian scribe needed hours to imprint a clay table, we can now record terabytes of data for very little cost.
- The internet (as in the complete networking infrastructure). No need to have people do the measurements and record the data themselves. Everything is be automated.
- Advanced in computer power has made the application of advanced AI algorithms cheap and rewarding.
This list describes techniques to store, manipulate, and analyze data.
What it does not describe, is a change in the nature of data. People tend to concentrate on the new hype, assimilate data with data science, and equate analysis with machine learning. This is a very narrow view of what data is and limits its usefulness to a few very advanced use cases.
Because first and foremost, data is information, information about your business, its customers, its assets, its financial state. It represents the tangible and is often the only thing you have to steer large complex organizations.
We think that data should play a core role in every organization, be CENTRAL to decision making and action taking. Without data, any decision taken is an educated guess.
THERE IS MORE DATA AROUND THAN YOU THINK
In practice, we often encounter organizations that claim not to have any data. Because they don’t have a data lake.
The first thing they have on their data roadmap then, is to create one. But really, a data lake is just a big database. It won’t tell you what to do with your data. In our experience, many organizations, after having spent an incredible amount of time and budget on creating a data lake, are stuck. They don’t know what to do with it.
Because your data is about your business, not technology, not algorithms.
What we usually see is that organizations already have data, very often plenty of data, scattered around, in custom made applications, asset databases, excel sheets. Because you can’t function without data.
What they lack is an approach, a concrete process to manage data, to embed it in its day to day operations. The data processing, the algorithms, should come in support of operations.
Making sure data is part of your operations day to day business, that is being data-centric.
In order to do that, you need to reverse the data analysis process, look at your data from a business perspective:
- What are my most important use cases, processes, assets?
- Which data do I have about them? Where can it be found, in which format? Do I need more of it?
- How can we automate this specific use case? Which algorithm can be used?
At Cuurios, we have extensive experience working in the industrial sector. In most Industrial settings, processes will already be described. They will be backed by data for real-time monitoring, stored in a historian. Optimization and analysis algorithms are known.
The actual running of the algorithms, the analysis of the data and the generation of advices is traditionally a step performed by engineers, in Excel, Matlab or others. Tools great for exploration and scientific inquiry, but not made for automation.
For most companies, there is tremendous value to be added by connecting data sources to each other and automating their analysis. Actions can be defined and set-out quicker, with a better response to issues and a higher efficiency.
It is never easy, to let go of things, that accompanied you from the beginning. But change isn’t supposed to be easy. With heavy heart towards the old, but also excitement for the new, we are saying goodbye to our old office and old website.
With our increased number of colleagues, our office simply does not have enough room anymore, to give space for all of our members, and while we are mainly working from home according to the current recommendations, we are hoping that soon enough, we will be able to have a full house – in our new office in the new NEXT Delftbuilding!
The first time I heard "she/he is a developer" was when I started working at a software company in 2012. We were told we can ask them about everything we want and I thought, "wow, this is so cool". From that day for about 6 years I worked with engineers on a daily basis an average 10 hours each day. Due to the fact that all things were new to me, I googled every word they said in standup.
I learned from them, grew with them, and became more and more interested in coding. Imagining millions of people are using something based on my idea and I imagined that I was the one who built it. My dream was to create my own website and share with the world everything I was passionate about, like a movie director.
New chapter of my life
“Change you job!”
“This is the thing you always wanted! “
“This is your destiny!”
These words were etched into my head over the years. The thought was both ambitious and frightening.
At first I started learning by myself, reading product codes, participating in technical solution design, and enjoying the moments as much as I could. Finally, I heard the voice clearly and decided to follow my heart. Thus, I quit my job and started the new chapter of my life.
I knew I would face big challenges, but I prepared myself for them. Even though I got frustrated at times, cried for hours, and did many other things, I had faith in the path I had chosen. Thank you to my best and lovely friend who supports, teaches, and pushes me, especially when I feel frustrated.
In less than a year, I began interviewing for developer roles. Each interview taught me something new.
In between, I began my project "Book Lovers" - one of tens of ideas on my long list. At the beginning, I had to design, develop the backend as well as the front end. BOOM. How much work you have to do!
As part of this process, I applied for a frontend developer role at Cuurios.
I will never forget my first impression of Cuurios. I was full of stress on the day of my interview, but they were so gracious to me. The company's co-founder asked me questions and listened carefully to my responses with a smile on his face.
On the other side, the CTO was reviewing my project and asking technical questions, but before I could answer he said, "It's okay if you don't know it, it's totally fine. You are a junior developer and you will learn it soon." He said this, and at last I could breathe.
Now I'm working with them at Cuurios, and I'm so happy I made this choice.
Open-minded managers who accept your ideas, count on you, and encourage you to make decisions and mistakes, along with phenomenal colleagues who support you, teach you, and guide you through the learning process.
Now, when I finish a feature or task and then see the impact, I am excited, high-fiving myself and more eager to get started on the next one.
Curios about the world
My biggest hobby when I'm not working is reading books and watching documentaries. I am fascinated by physics, the universe, history, and by my favourite writer and thinker, Stephen Hawking. By reading about the past, forming opinions about the future, and putting those into the present, I am taught how to think, behave, and make my mark on this world. These things lead me to the conclusion that I should try harder and be better, and I think being a developer will help me achieve these goals.
Last but not least, I enjoy working with code and solving problems for users. I am a strong believer that I am on the right track and will help everyone who has a deep love for coding!
Happy to work with you Anna, Tamara, Michael, Leen, Gaetan, Adyasha, Marco and Andi!
Does not matter if you are 5, 15 or 50. Everyone knows this creeping moment in the middle of the night when you suddenly „feel” the monster under the bed. You know it's not real but you will still pull your feet back under the safety of your blanket.
The reason is the unknown. You know this room like the back of your hand, every corner, every furniture, every color, but in the dark, it looks awfully different, it holds the possibility of something going terribly wrong.
Companies that has been around for a while, that has known methods, a consensual way of working, are tend to have their ways set in stone. No matter how tedious it is, they know it like the back of their hand, and the unknown future that comes with digital transformation is their monster under the bed.
Curiosity killed... my job?
„You just export the data from here, and then take this blank excel sheet, and copy the data in here. Make sure you make no mistakes, check it 2-3 times, and then compare it there, and you e-mail John if this one is above the target range, and message Carla if that one seems to be showing a decreasing tendency over 3 months.
For now you can find all the previous months in this folder, but if you do it long enough, you will just know and won’t need to check back. If all is done, just email the final pdf to the list shared in here, but make sure to double check it, it changes regularly.”
Of the above „job description”, every word can be automated.
Human workforce is one of the most valuable asset a company has – and still some people are just wasted away on doing monotonous data management, generating spreadsheets and nudging people to look at them. It would be great to instead have empowered employees that take actions on automatically generated spreadsheets and dashboards.
Nevertheless, you most likely face resistance when the monster of change is creeping in: people will just want to stay in the safety of their comfort zone, where things are unchanged and their job is safe.
Talking about domain hierarchy, moreover managing domain structure can be a challenge. When it comes to data management, analysis and display, more often than not developers takes the classic road: tables, lists and charts are in charge of displaying your data.
Using one of the above techniques to display the structure of a domain while not impossible, can be very confusing and challenging to use and oversee as a user. Structure and hierarchy are best displayed visualized, for example as diagrams.
Developed and tested for a business user
This may sound contradicting, but a lot of software are made by engineers for engineers. It has great tools, cool solutions, and everything available what an engineer would require and consider awesome. But having the right tool for the right job means not to think as an engineer, when designing or testing a software.
Since day one as a software engineer, I think of myself as an end-user with the tools of making the changes happen. That was the leading idea behind the asset management tool, every button, every functionality was designed and placed the way we would see it comfortable during the everyday use.
Domain build from scratch
One company has departments, others has platforms, solar plants or windmill parks. The common ground is they are all organized in a unique structure, where some technical terms may be included, but eventually, they all are very specific to the given organization.
For example solar plants has multiple rows all built up from individual solar panels, but they can also be part of a higher hierarchy grouped by location. Each asset in this hierarchy has its own unique name, that tells nothing to an outsider, but gives a lot of information for the members of the company.
Fitting these structures and relations into a premade hierarchy with limited connections is not only hard but can make the asset hierarchy representation detached from reality.
Your assets, your connections as you know it
Our tool provides you with a flexible, unlimited configuration, so each and every asset will have its own, well-known and company-wide recognized name in the system. No need to learn a new structure, you can just build your own from the ground up.
Our objective here at Cuurios is to provide the tools that will digitalize and streamline industrial operations, foster collaboration and ultimately unleash an industry data revolution. One of the very valuable and logical use cases for our software platform is the ability to manage, assign and track production related actions. These actions are (in many organizations) currently not managed in a standardized way and I’m sure most of you recognize all these different action lists in various Excel files on shared drives you’re supposed to keep an eye on…
What is it that we do differently?
Exactly that is what motivated us to do it differently, starting by listening carefully to the key criteria we collected during user interviews and conversations with clients. The resulting key criteria we sketched on the board at that time were the following:
- User friendly, intuitive to use
- Performant, also on remote connections with limited bandwidth
- Flexible, customizable and scalable
- Asset centred, industry ready
We want our users to like working with our tools by motivation and not because they are forced to. This simply means we put user experience as our top priority. The simplest things can make a huge difference when it comes to usability. During the first trials with users, we’ve put all our effort in it to make sure every button, entry field or other user interaction in the tool is logical and intuitive for them (and not just for us as product owners :) ).
What does it imply if we put user experience first?
The tool is optimized for use in limited bandwidth environments, resulting in a very snappy and performant UI, even in remote locations. This is the result of a strong focus on the optimization of the application data structure and architecture as well as the optimization of all our data calls (only load the data you need seems a simple philosophy, but unfortunately not the reality in many applications).
Flexible because we understand not every company is the same. So if a client is used to name the priority of an action ‘severity’, they can configure it to be labelled as severity. And if you want three simple straightforward severity levels to select from or five or ten, it’s your choice. If you want an action to be constructed of five simple properties or twenty, all fine! We basically allow you to fully customize the template of your actions and their lifecycle (workflow) to fit your case.
Why is it such a good fit for asset-rich industries?
Asset centred because we focus on solutions for asset rich environments. Actions in these environments are simply always related to assets. A plant, a unit, a pump a vessel, you name it. Your asset structure is represented in the solution by importing the asset hierarchy and definition from your asset management tool. This allows to link the actions to the asset it concerns. It also allows you to set the user permissions linked to the assets.
And the best of all? You can fully automate the creation and the state (i.e. from open to closed) based on your streaming production and asset data. Translating your data to meaningful insights using simple rules, thresholds and complex algorithms has never been so easy. You’ll never miss any of these insights as we provide powerful features, to track, assign and manage these actionable insights.
Want to learn more? We’re happy to demonstrate our product: please leave us a message at: info@Cuurios.com and we’ll contact you to set up a demo!
Delft, 29 June 2021 - The Rabobank Startup & Scale-Up team has provided Cuurios with substantial growth funding to further scale the company. Cuurios is a fast growing software technology provider transforming the industry and redefining leadership in a digitized world. The combination of an investment round closed earlier this year and the growth capital raised today, Cuurios is in the position to gear up for an exciting journey!
Our objective is to provide the tools that will digitalize and streamline industrial operations, foster collaboration and ultimately unleash an industry data revolution. For one of our clients the automated and data driven production advises in order to produce to the optimum and avoid asset failures contributed to a 3% production increase.