Although COMOS has proven to be a capable design and plant lifecycle management tool, it is natural that it takes longer than expected for it to be fully integrated into the South African Industrial Automation Industry. This is attributable to COMOS being a new technology introduced into the market and will go through the maturing stages of adoption and implementation into the market. The South African Market is still in the early stages of the COMOS learning curve.
Innovators will inevitably be the first group of the market to test the capabilities and figure out whether the new technology lives up to manufacturer’s promises. This is because experimentation and interest in new technology is an integral part of who they are. This group of people are tech enthusiasts who enjoy putting new technology through its paces and are usually key in helping the developers to improve the technology. Once there is a buy in from the innovators, the new technology is likely to gain trust amongst early adopters, who are visionaries in a quest to stay ahead of the competition and are willing to take risks to get a competitive edge in the market. This group of people are not intimidated by new technology and are willing to take risks in hopes of big rewards in their businesses and personal lives. Regarding COMOS, such visionaries include the likes of Anglo-American Platinum, Eskom, Coca Cola, etc., who have embraced COMOS as the preferred tool to achieve integrated Engineering Design.
Crossing the Chasm comes as a challenge for most new technologies and businesses. The chasm is essentially the turbulent bridge that connects trends from the innovators and early adopters to the early majority group. Most new technologies never make it past this stage and end up falling through the cracks. Reason being that the early and late majority are the hardest groups to convince to buy into the use of new technology. Both groups make up two thirds of the market and their buy in and approval determines the success of the business or technology introduced into the market. If technology is adopted and gains support from both these groups, success is inevitable.
Larger EPCMs such as DRA Global, Hatch, Wood PLC etc., represent most of the early majority groups. One of the reasons Large EPCMs usually fall under this group is because they have the financial capacity to be able to absorb the cost of the COMOS technology (COMOS software, licences, and training). Small – medium sized EPCMs mostly fall under the late majority group as most might feel the cost of implementing COMOS on engineering projects outweigh the benefits as they do not have the financial capacity and flexibility that large EPCMs do. Most of all, the reason these types of organisations fall in their designated groups is because of the characteristics shared amongst the individual people within the groups as seen below.
Characteristics of the mainstream COMOS market
|Early Majority (Large EPCMs)||Late Majority (Small – Medium sized EPCMs)|
|1. They are driven by the practicality of the solution/technology.
2. They take time to assess and make informed buying decisions.
3. They base their decisions on established and trusted references. (Early Majority and Early Adopters)
4. They need proof that the solution has been tried, tested, and works before they commit.
|1. They are not confident or comfortable using or experimenting with new technology.
2. They wait until the solution has become a set standard or norm to buy into it.
3. They want to depend on a mature market (plenty support) to have peace of mind.
4. They usually make decisions based on the established references from both Late Majority and Early Majority
5. They need proof that the solution has been tried, tested, and works before they commit.
Recently however, as COMOS becomes more accessible, we are beginning to see increasing interest and demand from small – medium sized EPCMs wanting to complete their Engineering Design Projects in COMOS. In as much as COMOS implementation has not taken traction at the desired speed and urgency, we remain hopeful that more EPCMs and end users in different industries buy in to COMOS and adopt it as a viable tool and vehicle leading the industries towards fully integrated engineering. In our 3 years of research and experience assisting EPCMs to deliver Engineering and Design projects to their clients in COMOS, we have come to the realisation and insight that EPCMs are not motivated to use COMOS in most of their engineering and design projects because there is not enough demand for COMOS designs from the pool of end users in the market, as well as little enforcement from the current COMOS end users. Thus, contributing to the delay in ultimately maturing the COMOS technology within the South African industry to a satisfactory position.
In conclusion, we strongly believe COMOS, in due time, will successfully penetrate and become a set standard for design and implementation of engineering and design projects in the South African Industrial Automation industry. It is however up to the market’s Early Adopters and Early Majorities to come together, to influence the uptake of COMOS cooperatively and strategically amongst the Late Majority group if we are to create a healthy and thriving industry with COMOS at the heart of integrated engineering design. Thus, helping all industry end users reach Full COMOS Implementation across all their operations sooner.