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Dilemma between value creation and value destruction with data

By Jürg Meierhofer, ZHAW

Successful Databooster presentations at the “smart maintenance insights” conference

On November 23, the “smart maintenance insights” conference was held in collaboration with easyfair. The Databooster framed the event with presentations by Andrew Paice and Jürg Meierhofer, who highlighted the focus topic “Dilemma between value creation and value destruction with data”.

Andrew Paice opened the presentation series with the topic “What data is enough for smart maintenance?”. The presentation started from the common view that data is seen as a panacea – “If I have enough data, I can do anything with machine learning – e.g. smart maintenance”. He outlined that, in contrast, more information does not necessarily lead to better decisions. These issues are particularly pressing in maintenance, where you really need the right data to make good decisions. How do you know if you have the right data or enough data? In the presentation, the use of machine learning was discussed and explained with examples from research.

After two very interesting industrial contributions by Thomas Faulhaber from Membrain Switzerland and Dominik Doubek from Sonic Technology AG, Jürg Meierhofer closed the arc with his presentation “How do Smart Service create sustainable value?”. Even if sufficient data of good quality is available, business-relevant value is not automatically created for the economic actors. When using so-called smart services (data-driven services), the goal must be to increase performance and reduce risks for the diverse actors in an ecosystem. In addition, smart services allow providers to differentiate themselves and strengthen customer relationships. Thus, the use of data for novel services has great strategic importance. However, without knowing the value of their data, it is difficult for companies to make the decision for the potentially large investments in its collection and processing.
The presentations are available on youtube:

Dilemma zwischen Wertschöpfung und Wertzerstörung mit Daten

Von Jürg Meierhofer, ZHAW

Erfolgreiche Databooster Präsentationen an der Konferenz “smart maintenance insights”

Am 23. November fand in Zusammenarbeit mit easyfair die “smart maintenance insights” Konferenz statt. Der Databooster umrahmte den Anlasse mit Präsentationen von Andrew Paice und Jürg Meierhofer, welche das Fokusthema “Dilemma zwischen Wertschöpfung und Wertzerstörung mit Daten” beleuchteten.

Andrew Paice eröffnete die Vortragsreihe mit dem Thema “Welche Daten reichen für smart maintenance?”. Das Referat ging aus von der verbreiteten Ansicht, dass Daten als Allheilmittel angesehen werden – “Wenn ich genug Daten habe, kann ich mit Machine Learning alles machen – zB Smart Maintenance”. Er legte dar, dass hingegen mehr Informationen nicht unbedingt zu besseren Entscheidungen führen. Diese Fragen sind besonders dringlich in der Instandhaltung, wo man wirklich die richtigen Daten braucht, um gute Entscheidungen zu treffen. Wie weiss man ob die richtigen oder genügend Daten hat? Im Vortrag wurde der Einsatz von maschinellem Lernen diskutiert und anhand von Beispielen aus der Forschung erläutert.

Nach zwei sehr interessanten Praxisbeiträgen von Thomas Faulhaber von Membrain Switzerland und Dominik Doubek von Sonic Technology AG schloss Jürg Meierhofer den Bogen mit seinem Referat “Wie schaffen Smart Service nachhaltig Wert?”. Auch wenn genügend Daten in guter Qualität vorliegen, entsteht nicht automatisch Business-relevanter Wert für die wirtschaftlichen Akteure. Beim Einsatz sogenannter smart Services (Daten-getriebener Dienstleistungen) muss das Ziel darin bestehen, für die diversen Akteure in einem Ecosystem die Leistung zu steigern und die Risiken zu reduzieren. Zudem können sich die Anbieter mit smart Services differenzieren und die Kundenbeziehung stärken. Die Nutzung von Daten für neuartige Services hat somit grosse strategische Bedeutung. Ohne den Wert ihrer Daten zu kennen, ist es für die Unternehmen aber schwierig, den Entscheid für die potenziell hohen Investitionen in deren Erhebung und Verarbeitung zu treffen.

Die Vorträge sind auf youtube verfügbar:

Geospatial insights for all – from unique applications to future trends

By Nicolas Lenz, Litix, Stefan Keller, OST, and Reik Leiterer, ExoLabs

The Expert Group Spatial Data Analytics used the 2022 General Assembly of the Data Innovation Alliance in Zurich to organise an expert meet up beforehand – and 18 experts from research and industry took the opportunity and participated in the event. The aim of this event was, on the one hand, to identify topics of particular interest for the spatial data community, which will then be taken up at special events in 2023. On the other hand, current trends in the field of geodata and applications/solutions related to geodata were presented and discussed. The meeting was concluded with the presentation of exciting data sets and tools that are of great importance in the current work of the participants.

In the area of trends, possible thematic clusters of particular interest were outlined, developments in methodological approaches were presented and new approaches to solutions and applications were discussed.

(© Zhu Difeng – AdobeStock)

In the context of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Disaster Mitigation and Response theme complex stands out – themes, that are also of central importance in Switzerland and where geodata and their use/analysis are key to protecting the environment, infrastructure, and the population. This is linked to the wide field of Location Intelligence, e.g., visualizing (You all know heat maps, don’t you?) and analysing volumes of spatial data (often linked with non-spatial data), to enable holistic planning, insights for problem-solving, and advanced spatio-temporal forecasting.

Regarding data acquisition and evaluation, many new sensors, algorithms, and software packages are currently being developed in the field of 3D representation. This applies not only to the functionalities in existing solutions (e.g., 3D-GIS), but also to the linking of spatially explicit information with, e.g., the classic 3D model approaches in infrastructure planning (BIM) – with which we have gained another concept in the spatial universe: GeoBIM.

A lot of data means new possible approaches – and more and more use is being made of Machine Learning (ML) methods. But ML has very specific requirements for the data to unfold its full potential. One way to meet these requirements is to generate so-called Synthetic Data. This can not only help with an insufficient data basis, but also anonymise data in such a way that an exchange beyond the boundaries of one’s own organisational unit is possible even when working with sensitive information.

Also very exciting are the developments around SaaS applications and No-Code platforms, which will certainly lead to a strong increase in the use of spatial data. With the Metaverse, an additional field of development has opened in the last few months, which enables the spatialisation and visualization of our online activities. Hype, bubble, or opportunity – we will see.

New ideas, research projects and exciting applications were discussed in the subsequent exchange session: from the data pooling of freely available data (by Nicolas Lenz – Litix) and the integration of cloud computing services into locally running applications (by Dominique Weber – WSL), via interactive platforms for the joint work on requirements relating to the development/planning of spatial systems (Luis Gisler – cividi), to the power of customized machine learning tools in applied research (by László István Etesi – FHNW/ATELERIS). At this point, thanks to the presenters for the exciting insight!

You missed the Expert Day? – Don’t worry, there will be another one next year, along with several other exciting events on the topic of Spatial Data Analytics. Simply visit the website – and join the meet-ups where you can exchange ideas and initiate new collaborations with experts from research and industry. We are looking forward to you!

Successful 5th Smart Services Summit

By Jürg Meierhofer, ZHAW

Since it’s origin in 2018, the Smart Services Summit has created a lively and relevant community of practitioners and researchers, with a relevant focus topic every year. Several implementation projects and other value creating initiatives emerged from this network.

On October 21, we got together for the 5th time to join industrial and academic experts to share ideas, this time with the focus topic „smart services creating sustainability“. The summit was hosted by Oracle at their excellent location in the Circle convention center at airport Zurich. We had a rich and extensive conference program and were able to establish excellent new contacts for future co-creation.

We will take this on to the 6th edition in 2023. The relevant topics are far from being exhausted, indeed they never run out, as in a dynamically changing context new opportunities and also urgent needs for the generation of benefits with smart service-oriented approaches are constantly arising.

Overwhelming Co-Creation at the Workshop “Data Driven Innovation”

By Jürg Meierhofer, ZHAW, and Philipp Schmid, CSEM

Almost 30 attendees actively participated at the workshop “Data Driven Innovation”. After an insightful introduction to the promising transition from predictive management to predictive quality by Philipp Schmid, Jürg Meierhofer gave insights into approaches for economic value creation. Upon this, the attendees gathered in small breakout groups and elaborated the data driven value creation patterns at their own case study examples. Some very interesting project ideas which could be further followed came out of this workshop. The databooster process provides a very helpful platform for further developing these ideas into implementation projects.

Contracts for Advances Services

By Jürg Meierhofer, ZHAW

In the late afternoon of September 27, 2022, the Expert Group Smart Services gathered at ZHAW in Zürich. We enjoyed a presentation by Shaun West about the topic “Contracts for Advanced Services”.

Shaun West provided hints and tips on how to design and deliver advanced services based on expert know how and best practice. This is relevant for firms who are integrating digital with their traditional product and service offerings.

When selling advanced services, the conceptual and contractual complexities of such contracts are all too often underestimated.  Experience shows that this is especially true when selling into traditional B2B markets. The developing and longer-term nature of advanced services and the need for collaboration between seller and buyer should be reflected in the contract.  For example, the traditional approach of using ‘specification and data sheets within specified operating parameters’ for service contracts will need to be replaced with contractual structures reflecting the dynamic, evolving nature of advanced service contracts.

This creates challenges for both sellers and buyers of advanced services:  traditional mind-sets must be overcome, high-level advanced services outcomes / measures have to be agreed, flexible / adaptable contractual framework should be developed, and collaborative structures are required in the contracts.

Databooster zu Gast bei Digital Health – alles dreht sich um Daten!

Das Thema des 4. Digital Health Lab Days der ZHAW lautete: «Smart Healthcare & Digital Innovation». Über 200 Teilnehmer und Aussteller sind an diesem Montag in das historische Sulzerareal nach Winterthur gereist. Im Epizentrum des Maschinenbaus des letzten Jahrhunderts drehte sich heute für einmal alles um die Gesundheit und damit verbunden vor allem um Daten und Digitalisierung. Spannende Keynotes, 9 inspirierende Startup Pitches, 7 Smart Healthcare Workshops kombiniert mit Podiumsdiskussion und einer Posterausstellung – das Programm war vielseitig und spannend. Gerade im Digital Health Bereich stösst das Angebot des NTN Innovation Booster – Databooster auf grosses Interesse. Wir freuen uns auf viele neue Innovationsideen!

Shaping Value Creation by Smart Services at Mobiliar Forum Thun Workshop

By Jürg Meierhofer, ZHAW

Data Science, machine learning, artificial intelligence etc. are hot topics and deserve undisputedly a lot of attention. However, we always need to pay attention to whether and how we create value for the diverse actors in the ecosystem. For businesses, this means of course primarily economic value, but by far not only. Data-driven solutions also need to address other value dimensions of individuals, e.g., social or emotional values. This discipline of  “Smart Service Engineering” provides us with a set of tools and applicable procedures to achieve this. In the CAS Smart Service Engineering / Data Product Design, we work with these tools and directly apply them to case studies that are self-chosen by groups of participants.

Data Science, Machine Learning, Künstliche Intelligenz etc. sind hoch aktuelle Themen und verdienen unbestritten viel Aufmerksamkeit. Wir müssen jedoch immer darauf achten, ob und wie wir Wert für die verschiedenen Akteure im Ökosystem schaffen. Für Unternehmen bedeutet das natürlich in erster Linie betriebswirtschaftlichen Wert, aber bei weitem nicht nur. Datengetriebene Lösungen müssen auch andere Wertdimensionen von Individuen adressieren, z. B. soziale oder emotionale Werte. Die Disziplin des “Smart Service Engineerings” stellt uns dafür eine Reihe von Werkzeugen und direkt anwendbaren Methoden zur Verfügung. Im CAS Smart Service Engineering / Data Product Design arbeiten wir mit diesen Methoden und wenden sie direkt auf Fallstudien an, die von Teilnehmendengruppen selbst ausgewählt werden.

After three months of course, we had the wonderful opportunity to take our well-prepared case studies to the very inspiring environment of the castle of Thun, where we were made very welcome by our host Fabrizio Laneve, who is the lively and energetic manager of the Mobiliar Forum Thun. Brilliantly moderated by Ina Goller, the groups successfully further developed the value creation by their smart service concepts – with a strong focus on value creation in the ecosystem, considering all relevant actors. Thanks to these two consecutive days of workshop, accompanied by a nice dinner and an overnight stay in the castle, we not only brought our service concepts significantly further, but also learned a lot about methodology and additionally, very much strengthened our team spirit.

Nach drei Monaten hatten wir die wunderbare Gelegenheit, unsere gut aufbereiteten Fallstudien in die sehr inspirierende Umgebung des Schlosses Thun zu bringen, wo wir von unserem Gastgeber Fabrizio Laneve, dem sehr aktiven und inspirirenden Manager des Mobiliar Forums Thun, sehr herzliche empfangen wurden. Brillant moderiert von Ina Goller entwickelten die Gruppen die Wertschöpfung durch ihre Smart-Service-Konzepte erfolgreich weiter – mit einem starken Fokus auf die Wertschöpfung im Ökosystem unter Berücksichtigung aller relevanten Akteure. Dank dieser zwei aufeinanderfolgenden Workshop-Tage, begleitet von einem schönen Abendessen und einer Übernachtung im Schloss, haben wir nicht nur unsere Servicekonzepte deutlich weiterentwickelt, sondern auch viel über die Methodik gelernt und zusätzlich unseren Teamgeist deutlich gestärkt.


With more than double the attendees compared to last year’s conference, the SDS2022 was a great success with 580 participants. An exciting start, expert talks on topics particularly pertinent in data science, and a buzzing apero made the day turn into evening – since the easing of the pandemic, people are eager to interact more extensively, and we are proud to be a platform to enable this. A special thanks to our presenting partner D ONE and our scientific partner, the Datalab of the Zurich University of Applied Science!

Part one, with the workshops on June 22nd, took place in various location hubs around central Switzerland, mainly in Zurich, with great feedback garnered.

On the next day, part two in Lucerne featured talks on topics such as developing, deploying and operating machine learning-based systems (MLOps), Cybersecurity, AI for Humanity, and Data Ethics and Fairness.

With what kind of consequential topics did speakers engage the participants? Technological innovation can no longer work on greater-than-human efficiency alone. This means that data-driven approaches cannot neglect responsible AI which has been trained on societal factors such as ethics, fairness and privacy. Industries like insurance and security are tackling this delicate topic with data ethics experts.

Speaking of security, with tech becoming smarter, so is the hacking potential and so-called data poisoning, where training data gets infiltrated, tampered with and corrupted, leading to false outcomes or even harmful consequences. Yet most media have remained surprisingly quiet on this topic; so experts and industry leaders – stay vigilant and plan countermeasures from the beginning when deploying models!

We were honored to host our two keynote speakersRoberto Capobianco and Francesca Dominici

Roberto presented Sophy, the AI racing agent from Sony, developed through reinforcement learning. What makes Sophy so noteworthy is its balance of cooperation – following racing rules and etiquette – whilst pushing difficult, winning maneuvers, influenced humans to also use higher risk steering. This paves the way for a new generation of AI in complex physical systems.

Francesca’s talk regarding covid, climate and human health was particularly timely. She masterfully demonstrated the ways in which data can be used to advocate, shape and defend climate policy by presenting evidence of climate risks.

Participants voted for their favorite poster video and presentation in the app. The winners received a certificate at the award ceremony.

The unmissable SDS apero was a welcome and fun chapter in the conference. After three years of mostly zoom meetings, people didn’t want to leave until late! With such a stunning view at lake Lucerne, who could blame them?

Enough from us – here is what some of our attendees said about their experience (opens in a new window):
And that’s just a fraction of the presentations and experiences. Curious for more? Next year’s SDS2023 will be in Zurich on June 23rd, and with an even greater on-site emphasis. For a feel of the event, look out for our flashback video soon.

Thank you to the sponsors that made this event possible, to the speakers that breathed life into the conference, and the attendees who participated actively, intelligently and insightfully.

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to get sneak-peaks, deadlines and sign-up notices. See you in 2023 – Together we move faster!

Showcase Kistler & Digitalization

By Jürg Meierhofer, ZHAW

In the afternoon of June 8, the Expert Group Smart Services gathered at Kistler in Winterthur. After the very friendly welcome by the Kistler team, we got insightful presentations about the digitalization initivatives at Kistler and, specifically, Kistler’s way of digitalizing service with a focus on pilot projects in various fields of advanced services. These presentations were rounded up by a presentation of a turn-key solution by the Kistler Innovation Lab. Many thanks to Marc Schaad, Philipp Schenkel, and Thomas Wuhrmann for their presentations.

The presentations were followed by a tour around the company in break-out groups and an apéro. We had the opportunity to develop many new contacts and inspire ideas that we will follow up on. It was an excellent Expert Group event and we got the feedback of many participants that we should follow up with similar activities.

How can we enable a more sustainable industry?

By Melanie Geiger, data innovation alliance

Report-back on the 5th Conference on Industry Perspectives: 4.0 Synergies and Opportunities for the Circular Economy

When academic brilliance and popular enthusiasm meet, it results in the recent ZHAW conference, “5. Konferenz Perspektiven mit Industrie 4.0 Synergien und Chancen für die Kreislaufwirtschaft”, where an economy that works together with the environment is the future. After all, that, in a nutshell, is what circular economy (CE) is about.

The morning was packed with engaging presentations on an abundance of circularity aspects revolving around:

● Manufacturing and production
● Material and raw materials
● Logistics
● Utilization
● Support and service

The Tool manufacturer FRAISA presented the possibilities of digital individualization in optimizing tool utilization. Using their method, tools can be “restored”, leading to a reduction in energy consumption, as well as in materials and logistics costs. This provides a basis for a sustainable economic system.

After lunch (and plenty of networking), the 80 participants divided up into 8 discussion tables, intensively identifying and analyzing current challenges in Industry and the Circular Economy. Key challenges which lead to resource waste in Logistics were poorly packed or empty return-shipping containers were highlighted. The NTN Innovation Booster Databooster and NTN Innovation Booster Applied Circular Sustainability jointly organized the interactive session.

Kündig, a provider of industrial sanding machines, offers remote fault diagnosis and support to their customers in order to reduce travel time and resource requirements. Another excellent example is REMONDIS Digital Services, which globally offers interested parties such as cities and municipalities an innovative solution: road and environmental data on demand! As a fleet operator of waste collection vehicles, REMONDIS Digital drives along all the streets of a city at regular intervals whereby in doing so, their vehicles collect data on the road environment in an automated, data protection-compliant and demand-oriented manner, down to the very last nook and cranny. They can achieve this by using optical sensors together with artificial intelligence.

With all these innovative ideas for making Industry more sustainable, we had the opportunity to explore new possibilities through networking and intense discussion, finally ending with an enjoyable apéro. Thank you to all the participants!

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