A similar concept underpins EASA, a platform which enables simulation or analytics models of varying complexity to be repackaged and deployed as intuitive web apps. The original models could only be used by an elite few experienced experts, but after being transformed by EASA are now practical and easily used tools, accessible enterprise-wide to a much larger audience of people with varying backgrounds.
We call this “democratization”— putting capability previously reserved for the “elite” into the hands of the masses; we do it through “appification”—the process of repackaging the complex models into intuitive web-enabled applications (accessed via a browser).
Companies are beginning to realize that they are sitting on a gold-mine of untapped potential. Many of the models they have created—everything from Excel and MATLAB models to in-house codes and scripts, to 3D CAE models— have historically only been used by a handful of experts. But with EASA, that restriction can be removed.
Simulation and modeling is a necessary activity for any manufacturing company wishing to remain competitive. And while not all models need to be democratized, there is always a sub-set where democratization will leverage the value to the business by 10x or 100x. Of course, this requires a way to lock down the model execution process and ensure end-users have easy yet secure access. This is precisely what EASA does in the appification process.
“Here at EASA, we see the entire spectrum of modeling technologies— CFD and FEA get plenty of attention, with highly photogenic 3D graphical results. However, 1D models created with Excel, MATLAB, R, Python, and even FORTRAN often deliver enormous value once appified and democratized with EASA,” states Dewhurst.
Companies are beginning to realize that they are sitting on a gold-mine of untapped potential
In addition to democratizing software assets, EASA provides a framework that ensures version control, lock-down of valuable intellectual property, sharing of results, and significantly higher reliability of execution. Users of appified models no longer require the underlying modeling software to be locally installed, so differences in versions and operating systems become a non-issue. As a bonus, users can access and run apps on their mobile devices.
Finally, it’s worth noting that a model is often part of a larger process. “With EASA, you can appify not just an individual software program, but also an entire business process, all without doing any coding,” observes Dewhurst.
General Electric provides an excellent case-study. The bidding process and subsequent project management at GE’s Wind Energy business was labor intensive and inefficient. There were many steps, performed by many people at different locations. Initiating the proposal generation process, and managing the project effectively, were major challenges. Using EASA, GE was able to appify the entire process, simplifying and streamlining the workflow. This custom app connects to databases, in-house codes, MATLAB models, and SAS analytics tools.
“The first step for companies who do any modeling and simulation is to create an inventory of all models, and note which ones are used repetitively. You may end up with a shortlist of only a few dozen models—that’s OK. Ask the stakeholders, for each candidate model, what additional value would the business see if this model were to be democratized? By following these simple steps, you can easily leverage the value of your entire modeling and simulation effort by orders of magnitude.”