Honeywell Demonstrating That It’s An IIoT, Not Just An OT Company

By Patrick Moorhead - February 14, 2020

Honeywell is a company best known today for its operational technology (OT) presence in the commercial flight and industrial sectors. Its technology is deeply integrated throughout transport aircraft, satellites, defense agencies, manufacturing and chemical plants, refineries and commercial office buildings. All of these scenarios are incredibly ripe for a digital transformation and exemplify the target markets for the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things). 

While Honeywell is strong in OT, I would argue it should be viewed as an IT play as well, given its strides and investment in IT software, ecosystems, platforms and even compute IaaS. I want to go over some examples that I believe make a strong case for Honeywell being considered as a compelling IT company.

Honeywell’s quantum presence

I believe one of the definers of being an IT play is participating in enterprise and government compute technology and services.

Honeywell Quantum Solutions - Parallel Operations

Towards the end of last year, Moor Insights & Strategy quantum analyst Paul Smith-Goodson and I met up with Tony Uttley, president of Honeywell Quantum Solutions (HQS). We gleaned some valuable insights from the meeting (Paul wrote a piece on Honeywell’s presence in Quantum solutions that you can find here if interested). HQS recently partnered with Microsoft to provide hardware for its Azure project. Honeywell’s quantum technology is different than efforts from IBM and Google in that it uses trapped-ion technology over superconducting qubits. Additionally, HQS is working with Honeywell’s other business groups to provide data and analytics to solutions like Honeywell Forge, which I will talk about later.

Ecommerce and blockchain in Honeywell’s aerospace presence

Another Honeywell tech play is a part of its aerospace eCommerce business called GoDirect Trade. GoDirect Trade is one of the few online aerospace franchises to buy, sell and trade aerospace parts, used and new, in a part of the aerospace market that has yet to emerge. It also leverages cutting edge technology in an industry that doesn’t expect to be online.

GoDirect Trade uses blockchain technology to establish a trust system with its customers. You can imagine how important trust is in aerospace—it is vitally important to know exactly where the parts have been, for how long and for what purpose. The marketplace is still in beta and is using a similar marketing plan to Amazon’s online used bookstore. I am excited to follow GoDirect Trade and see it come out of beta. I believe it has what it takes to lead the aerospace industry in online eCommerce.

What is Honeywell Forge?

From a big-picture perspective, Honeywell Forge is an EPM or “Enterprise Performance Management System.” In other words, it is a software or service solution management system that collects operational data from various assets and puts that data into an ecosystem where it can be useful. It spans across all of the different industries that Honeywell has its foot in, no matter what asset process or operation. It connects IIoT data in one place. The fantastic thing is that, because of Honeywell’s industry presence, Honeywell Forge should be highly accessible for implementation into hardware systems. Last week, I had the chance to get a deeper dive on Forge with Ayan Sarkar, Chief Product Officer at Honeywell Connected Enterprise.

If we look at the aerospace industry, Honeywell has a presence in 90% of transport aircraft and 70% of business and general aviation. Much of that data is analyzed from separate systems that can be linked to control and provide predictive analysis. An example of how predictive analytics can benefit a system is in maintenance. Airline maintenance is key to keeping an expensive asset like an airliner in the air and on time and at profit. I believe Honeywell Forge is a difference-maker when it comes to predictive maintenance and being able to manage terabytes of data from a flight. Data that relates to various parts of the engine and power systems, electrical systems and other variables, during and after the flight, can all be analyzed for the efficiency of flight turnover. Honeywell Forge reduces costs by turning data into predictive analytics and predictive maintenance. Not only does predictive maintenance make for safer airlines, but connected airlines result in safer takeoffs, landings, and flight traffic between different airlines.

Honeywell Forge also connects assets in buildings and cities that use hardware from Honeywell and additional suppliers. Honeywell systems control a quarter of the world's commercial buildings. Let that sink in. Honeywell builds hardware like fire panels, smoke detectors, building controllers and security systems that manage access control and intrusion. Forge takes data from these assets and connects them for smart maintenance, security and control of a building. Just as Forge solutions can use existing controls in an airline, it can do the same for the IIoT in a building. Additionally, Forge can utilize this data to provide predictive analytics to improve building performance and maintenance or even protect against incoming security threats.

Honeywell Forge can also create a safer industrial work environment by connecting and analyzing the data its assets generate in refineries, plants, factories and other industrial infrastructures. Just as an airline as an asset can use connected data for predictive maintenance, so can industrial infrastructure. Forge can utilize this connected data to manage and manipulate data for predictive maintenance and drive higher ROI and performance.

The last focus of Honeywell Forge is keeping the connected data in the IIoT secure. Needless to say, this can benefit all industries. With predictive analytics, software and hardware solutions, Forge enables enterprises to intelligently manage their risks. Honeywell continues to grow in the cybersecurity realm, and its assets and data are growing with the overall expansion of connectivity. Effective cybersecurity starts at the device level, out at the edge. Honeywell’s main value proposition in cybersecurity lies in the fact that it is a controls company with a tangible firewall on the hardware level.

Honeywell and Verizon

A good example of how Honeywell works with IIoT partners was announced today with Verizon. Today Honeywell and Verizon announced that they were collaborating to accelerate the ability for utilities to deploy smart meters. Specifically, the release states that Honeywell is integrating Verizon’s Managed Connectivity LTE solutions into next-generation smart meters and other electric, gas, and water solutions to “develop the next evolution of the smart electric grid”. The joint solution will also include Honeywell’s Smart Energy software and services. I will do a deeper dive on this later, but I thought it was a very timely example of Honeywell’s IIoT prowess and partnering capabilities.  

Wrapping up

I already believed that Honeywell was a leader in OT. When it came to IT, though, I couldn’t help but think about the nightmares some OT companies have had expanding into the area. Remember GE’s foray into IT? It didn’t go well at all. To be fair, only a few IT companies are doing well in OT and they have alliances with OT companies.

After learning more, I’m convinced that Honeywell’s operational technology is moving in a direction where its information technology is well-mixed. With Honeywell Forge, Industrial IoT and IoT can be managed and controlled from the enterprise, and utilized for predictive analytics and (eventually) quantum computing.

I will be covering Honeywell’s deeper forays into the IT space as time progresses.

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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.