Featured Interview | Kerry Grimes of Aveva

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Kerry K. Grimes is SVP and Global Head of Partners, AVEVA Partner Network.

 

Kerry Grimes, AVEVA Solutions Limited

ADDEDFriday, January 14, 2022

  • Q
    How do you describe to lay people what you do?
    A
    How do I describe what I do? It’s digital transformation, but digital transformation for older stodgy industries like oil and gas and utilities and energy.
    
    I explain to people, well, think of the digital transformation of retail. You used to shop at a store all the time, and now you hop on Amazon, and you buy whatever you want. Well, that’s digital transformation. You’ve done the same thing in banking. I can access my bank and see what my balance is, transfer money, do all kinds of things.
    
    I do the same thing, or we do with our partners to help our customers in these other industries be more digitally efficient. 
  • Q
    What other suppliers do you partner with?
    A
    There’s several. If you look at large global system integrators, you have companies like Accenture that were one of their top eight strategic partners in what we’re looking at in terms of manufacturing. Microsoft is now a key player with us. We’re one of their seven top partners in the area of energy and manufacturing, and we’re actually the Energy Partner of the Year last year for Microsoft, and we’re proud of that.
    
    So, we have a good relationship with Microsoft. And then certainly, I can’t forget Schneider Electric. Schneider Electric is also a good partner of ours in terms of what we do together.
  • Q
    We can’t leave them out, we’d be in big trouble if we left them out.
    A
    I would be in trouble. I would certainly be in trouble if I left Schneider Electric out. And as, you know, I would say they’re obviously our most strategic partner. I have folks that are responsible for that relationship. So, for those that don’t realize, Schneider Electric owns a little over 60% of AVEVA stock, and so they are important strategic partner for us. And I have a staff of people that does nothing but continue to focus on our relationship with Schneider.
  • Q
    What would you say is the smartest decision AVEVA has made recently?
    A
    Well, a couple. Certainly, from an acquisition point of view, acquiring OSIsoft was an extremely strategic acquisition. But I also think our pivot into sustainability is important.
    
    Look at oil and gas. People get down on the oil and gas industry, I don’t. I think it’s fun to help them. They’re the ones that have the money from oil and gas, and they’re the ones that are putting money into finding more sustainable means in a rate and pace that’s actually going to make sense in the world.
    
    Think of all the products that are made with oil and gas -- our roads, the rubbers, and plastics for bottles, and all kinds of stuff. And yes, I want to be more sustainable too. But that’s going to happen in a rate and pace that really makes sense. And we want to be a sustainable company. We want to absolutely get there but we’ve got to help customers get there on the right rate and pace, and that’s exactly what we’re doing in AVEVA.
    
    At AVEVA, we all want to help our customers more optimally use the raw materials they have, and resources are also a raw material. So how do you help people better plan your resources, and it falls in line with exactly what we do, and so it’s really exciting.
  • Q
    Tell us why you think your customers return to you project after project?
    A
    Two things: scalability and reliability. We have scalable and reliable products. If you look at our HMI/SCADA products, we’re No. 1 in HMI/SCADA, we’re No. 1 in data historians. That’s why customers choose us. We’ve got great products.
    
    They are priced competitively. Yes, they’re more than a lot of our competitors, but it’s because we put more into them as well. And that’s exactly what our SIs help us do, and help us build customer success program, so that our customers are successfully implementing what our software does, and customers have a strong return on investment of what they do with us, so it works out. But scalability, reliability are the top two things.
  • Q
    What advice would you give a prospective customer researching you versus one of your competitors?
    A
    I said scalable and reliable, but it’s also extensible, right? There’s a lot of competitors -- especially in the HMI/SCADA -- that have cheaper products. And if that is what you’re looking for, that’s fine. But I would also say, look out at what you’re trying to do in the long term of your business, and make sure you’re building an extensible solution that you can actually go from edge to enterprise and be able to now not just capture the data, but really analyze the data.
    
    If you pigeonhole yourself into only being on the plant floor, yeah, there’s some other interesting solutions that are out there. But I think if you start to really broaden your aperture, not of where you want to be today, but where you’re going to want to be a couple years from now. It’s going to bring yourself to an edge to enterprise story. And that’s for that extensibility and thinking through, and who has the largest portfolio of industrial automation products? AVEVA does. 
    
    And if you’re a system integrator, I would take a hard look at all of those things. A lot of SIs don’t realize everything AVEVA has. Because we’ve only been the new AVEVA for the last couple of years. Some people think of AVEVA still as an engineering company. And we still have great products for that, and it’s still an important piece of our portfolio. But when you look at the rest of the breadth of everything that we do, helping our customers with digital transformation and becoming more sustainable, we’ve got a huge portfolio that will help with that, and which is also why it takes a large and great network of system integrators.
    
    I’m a person who says, you know, with digital transformation, it takes a large partner ecosystem to make that work well. No one person or one partner can take the breadth and scope of what AVEVA has and be able to implement it all on their own. This concept of partnering with partners is becoming extremely interesting when I’m actually seeing different system integrators working with each other to bring something to bear. So, I would encourage people to look at the breadth of what we do.
  • Q
    What challenges are your customers facing right now?
    A
    A lot of our customers are reeling around with supply chain issues, and that is something we can help our customers with.
    
    The other thing is remote workforce and training. Customers were trying to figure out how to deal with a remote workforce, you know, what does the new workforce look like? And what that balance is on premise versus what’s going to be at home, and how do we manage that? And so, our customers are thinking through that and looking for products to help them with that.
  • Q
    What kinds of trends and challenges are you seeing in industrial automation?
    A
    The movement to the Cloud is interesting. You look at CRM systems, ERP systems, things have moved to the Cloud very, very quickly.
    
    And certainly, we want to do the same thing in industrial automation. But you need a hybrid approach to the Cloud and industrial automation. Just because we could make things oriented to the Cloud, doesn’t mean they’re best functioning in the Cloud.
    
    Take a key fob that you use to open a car door. That’s a local instruction that’s taking place. Certainly, the technology is there to go from the key fob up to the Cloud, and then from the Cloud, down to the car. But is that useful? 
    
    Well, the same thing, takes place in the manufacturing environment. We are working hard to bring the pieces like analytics and the storage of data into the Cloud. So, the pieces that make sense to put in the Cloud, we’re putting up in the Cloud. The pieces that don’t make sense to work in the Cloud that need to be on-prem will still be on-prem, and that’s why I call it a hybrid Cloud, because now we got to make it all work together in unison.
  • Q
    What makes you optimistic about the future of the automation industry?
    A
    I am optimistic about what we’re doing. When I look at the money in the oil and gas market, the money in utilities, the money in energy and all these industries have not optimized yet with digital transformation or what others may call Industry 4.0.
    
    And the timeframe to make all of that happen, I think it’s going to be in the next 10 years. … The future is extremely bright for AVEVA for that next decade.