Printed title: Beyond Hype
New technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and robotic inspections evoke emotions about the potential results they can produce. The leaders swirl with creative ideas about the possible ways to apply them.
These same technologies, however, cause distress to company leaders who are not exactly sure if, or how, apply them, so they wait with caution to see how the first adopters do it.
There is also the hype effect. Every year Gartner identifies emerging technologies that will have the greatest impact on companies and will position them on a curve to show where they fall into the cycle of hype. Its curved pegs 2018 autonomous mobile robots, digital twins and Internet of Things platforms are approaching the peak of inflated expectations, with blockchain over the peak and augmented reality in the "trough of disillusionment". The latest innovations on the curve, on their way including autonomous flying vehicles, general artificial intelligence and 4D printing: all Gartner forecasts will take more than 10 years to reach their peak.
The Blockchain is important to follow, as it has enormous potential for MRO – to show the complete nose-to-tail configuration of an aircraft, to optimize leasing returns and make the supply chain system for the parts much more efficient – but it could also impose new business models, be very disruptive to distributors and request new technical bases.
Blockchain requires collaboration, and in this industry much driven by the process with complex supply chains, the establishment of shared records, or record blocks, requires trust. To get there, no entity can do it alone.
This is the reason why companies are looking for partners and try to create consortia. One is PwC; he hopes to have his proof of the concept with real data available within the next quarter, says Rachel Parker Sealy, partner of PwC Advisory. He says that a viable, scaled-up solution could be ready within 1-2 years.
The point of no return – when companies are populating the blockchain with "nose-to-nail" data – could be between 2-3 years, "but this could be me being optimistic," he says, pointing out that the adoption rate will depend from the change management process, not technological roadblocks.
An obstacle related to management change is data ownership, which is a concern for many in the industry.
Blockchain will require the buy-in of the sector and the confidence that digital information is secure and available for the right parts. The same goes for big data platforms, with almost a dozen available for the aviation aftermarket now.
This is part of the reason why Lufthansa Technik, which created Aviatar as an open platform for industry, intends to separate Aviatar into a separate company and attract more stakeholders. "I'm pretty sure we will not be the only owner in 12 months," says Johannes Bussmann, president of MRO (MRO25).
"Competition will therefore become: who does good things with data, not who has access to them, this is our vision," he says.
Positive business results are the goal of emerging technologies and big data, but solving problems related to data ownership and data rights will probably be the most difficult part.