Kosisko: “Shaping a revolution: building the digital plant of the future”

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It is hard to believe that 90 percent of the world’s data has been generated over the past two years alone. A computer sold in 2017 has a thousand billion times more processing capacity than models manufactured in 1970. Today, kids carry smartphones in their pockets with more RAM than NASA used for the Apollo 11 mission that took the first men to the moon.

While we are bombarded daily with anecdotes and fun facts about big data, it’s remarkable to consider the size and scope of the current 15 – or even 18 – figure revolution. And, just maybe, it could also explain why, today, digitalization is a trending topic for the energy sector. Nuova Energia interviewed Kevin Kosisko, Managing Director of ABB’s Power Generation & Water business, at ABB Customer World in Houston to hear his views on digitalization trends in the energy sector.

The statistics on big data are staggering. Do you think the world’s economy has experienced a change of similar magnitude before?
As a matter of fact, the examples you mentioned focus on one single aspect: the tremendous increase in computing capacity that has no parallel in the past. But the digitalization of knowledge is a much wider phenomenon whose scope includes society and people’s habits. Today we no longer browse through the pages of a printed encyclopedia. Whenever we want to know something, we google it. Also, we have different timing requirements; cycles have become shorter and demand is several orders of magnitude higher.

Do you think we are in the middle of a revolution or simply an evolution?
Giving a straightforward answer is not easy. Italy itself is proof that we may be experiencing an evolution. In the late 1990s, Enel began installing digital energy meters in Italian homes. While the 1990s was just the dawn of the Internet and the smartphone was in its infancy, the energy industry was an early adopter of the idea that a more interconnected world would improve our lives.

How has this evolution shaped ABB?
We realize that we are going through a process of evolution that - albeit deep - is made possible by some striking technological advancements, such as high-speed Internet access. I might add that in the past few years ABB has been among the first industrial companies to wholeheartedly embrace the technological evolution that grew into the Intranet of Things and went on to become a full-fledged industrial Internet of Things (IoT). Our ability to move quickly in this more interconnected world is born from our recognition that adopting strong software development practices was essential to our business survival and success. Our maturity in secure development life cycle in software provided us with a competitive advantage in IoT. Embarking on this digital journey early has enabled ABB to provide greater operational efficiencies to industry. For instance, we have already supplied our customers with 70 million connected devices and 70,000 digital control systems globally.