ABB Ability™: ­five years of pushing technology boundaries

ABB Ability™: ­five years of pushing technology boundaries

In October 2021, ABB celebrates a key milestone in its innovation journey: the five-year anniversary of the launch of ABB AbilityTM, the company’s flagship ­portfolio of digital solutions.

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James Macaulay ABB Corporate ­Communications Vancouver, Canada, james.macaulay@ca.abb.com

On October 4, 2016, at its Capital Markets Day, ABB introduced its portfolio of digital solutions under the banner of ABB AbilityTM. With an installed base of upwards of 70 million connected devices, ABB had already been working with customers in the digital space for decades. The launch of ABB Ability, bringing all these digital efforts to a single platform, was nonetheless hailed as a “quantum leap” for the company and its digital efforts. In physics, quantum leaps involve fundamental changes from one state to another, an apt analogy for what has taken place within ABB and with its customers in terms of creating value through the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

The commercial launch of ABB Ability and its initial slate of solutions followed in March 2017 at ABB Customer World in Houston. At the same event, the company also announced a new strategic partnership with Microsoft to build a common cloud approach for the portfolio, based on Microsoft Azure. ABB Ability solutions blend the technology and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) capabilities of Microsoft Azure with ABB’s unique domain knowledge in industrial and commercial settings to empower new insights and unlock value from the IIoT. Connecting operations from device to edge to cloud means customers can utilize system-level intelligence and improve the flexibility and sustainability of their operations.

Over the ensuing five years, ABB Ability has become an engine for digital innovation within the company, as the portfolio and its enabling technologies have reached scale. Today, ABB markets more than 200 ABB Ability digital solutions across its four business areas and the 21 divisions they comprise. Sixty percent of ABB’s research and development spending and more than 4,000 software developers are dedicated to digital solutions, which together now account for roughly half of new ABB orders.

With ABB Ability, the company has expanded its range of digital partners to include some of the largest players in IT, including Ericsson, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei and IBM, giving ABB access to new digital functionalities and capabilities – 5G, edge-based data centers, cloud analytics and artificial intelligence, to name a few – and new innovation pathways to create operational insights for the thousands of enterprise customers that make use of ABB AbilityTM solutions around the globe.

Behind the portfolio are a set of common enabling technologies that support ABB developers, including common application programming interfaces (APIs), containers and universal cybersecurity standards, an integrated toolbox that drives synergy and faster time to value for customers. An open, modular architecture that eschews “lock-in” and prioritizes consumption model flexibility makes it easy for customers and their IT suppliers to connect applications securely to ABB AbilityTM solutions and create custom capabilities that align to an organization’s unique business process needs. Dashboards and augmented technologies empower ABB customers to make sense of and act upon vast amounts of telemetry from operational technology and data stored in enterprise systems.

It’s been a great ride so far and there are a lot more pioneering innovations ahead. The 1/2022 edition of ABB Review will take a look at some of the most exciting ABB Ability solutions and how they are being deployed by customers in the real world to power better decisions throughout their business and achieve greater agility, resilience and energy efficiency. ABB Review will also be showcasing some important new research exploring the state of industrial decision-making. The 2/2022 issue will be dedicated to ABB Ability, and some of the new leaps the company is making. 

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