AI, AIoT, digital transformation, AI, artificial intelligence

Forty Years Strong — and We're Only Getting Stronger

August 10, 2021

August 12, 2021 marks a very special occasion, as AspenTech celebrates 40 years since its founding. I am excited to share this significant milestone with all of you to not only take a look at some of the past highlights, but more importantly, to share our vision for the future. 

I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of AspenTech 25 out of the past 40 years – the past eight serving as the CEO. Very few companies make it to 40 years, and I am very proud to have been a part of its history.

Since the very beginning, AspenTech has helped lead the way, optimizing processes and assets for capital-intensive industries. By helping customers run more efficiently for all these years, what we really have been doing is driving sustainability for them with innovations and technologies such as AI and machine learning. From where I sit today, we are primed to play an even more significant role in helping industrial organizations accelerate their digitalization journey to achieve higher levels of agility, sustainability and profitability.

For some, this journey may take them all the way to autonomy and the Self-Optimizing Plant. Some will have more short-term goals related to digital transformation and automation. Whichever path our customers are on, we will be there, just like we always have been.

Looking ahead, AI will continue to be integral to everything we do. As will sustainability. With an eye toward meeting the aggressive sustainability goals we are hearing about from our customers around the world, including achieving global carbon-neutrality by 2050, we will have to continue to innovate, to do research, to talk to our customers and learn from the competition, to continue to weave AI into our digital solutions.


Innovators from the Start 

Aspen Technology was known for our innovations from our inception. Many of you may already know this, but we began as the MIT ASPEN Project. Our Chief Technology Officer, Willie Chan has been with AspenTech for 40 years, and has written about the company’s history, from its earliest days, in his recent blog. The development of the company’s first product, based on computer modeling and simulation technology, was adopted quickly by companies in the chemical and refining industries – in short order positioning AspenTech as an accepted market leader. 

Our consistent history of accomplishments was largely possible because of the company’s agility in helping customers address new challenges. We’ve developed innovations that provide significant benefits to our customers, both technically and financially, optimizing the design, operations and maintenance of plants around the world.

Over the years, we accrued domain expertise at a rapid pace, supplementing our proprietary technology with acquisitions that allowed us to add new functions, products and solutions, including the addition of Aspen Mtell machine learning, predictive and prescriptive analytics and artificial intelligence-based solutions. 

Today we are in the enviable position of being primed to transform the industry once again with Industrial AI and our vision of the autonomous, Self-Optimizing Plant. With more than 2,400 customers worldwide, and 1,800 dedicated employees innovating every day, we are confident that we are the right choice as companies look to partners to help them achieve their digitalization and sustainability goals.

Focusing on our customer base and strategically adding new industries, we recently announced a new Pharmaceuticals Business Unit. As we did with our Asset Performance Management team, the business unit functions like a startup, or innovation incubator within the company, whose mission is to bring new innovations, products and solutions to market quickly and efficiently.


Continued Innovation in a Rapidly Changing, VUCA World 

Without question, since March 2020 we have found ourselves operating in the most challenging VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment. It has never been more important to meet these challenges with a combination of technological advancement (like Industrial AI, for example, and our AIoT Hub) and the expertise of hundreds of engineers who have devoted themselves to the task of optimizing complex processes over the last forty years.

At AspenTech, we’re most proud of our ability to drive profitability numbers generated by our customers every year using our products and solutions – $59 billion of profitability annually! That number does not include the improvements in safety, sustainability, reduction in carbon emissions, waste, or water consumption; profitability comes through greater efficiencies, and productivity in your organization. 

The AspenTech team is very proud to have contributed to this achievement and will continue to contribute in future years. But we also recognize that over the past 40 years, and really before that, the capital-intensive industries and process industries have been improving the life of billions of people around the world. And we have contributed to that indirectly. Innovation in areas such as clean water sanitation, better communications, illumination and others have improved the lives of people around the world and led to increases in standards of living. And we’ve seen how the pharmaceuticals and life science industry came together over the last year to develop, in record time, vaccines to address the COVID pandemic. The capital-intensive industries contributed to that through significant innovation and organizational capabilities. 


The Dual Challenge 

Earlier this spring, we held our biannual OPTIMIZE conference, entitled “The Future Starts with Industrial AI.” Throughout the plenary sessions, executive track and more than 100 customer presentations, the recurring topic was how customers can generate new levels of operational excellence while simultaneously addressing their sustainability targets. This dual challenge broadly means meeting the growing demand for resources and higher standards of living from a growing population while also addressing sustainability goals, reductions in emissions and reductions in plastic waste in the environment. 

In capital-intensive industries, meeting this dual challenge requires new levels of operational excellence. Companies need the agility in operations to address volatility, the flexibility to operate across different scenarios, and the access to critical supply chain insights. 

These requirements necessitate digitalization…digitalization that delivers increased safety in operations, greater reliability and improved efficiencies. In combination, these results drive greater sustainability by delivering safer, greener, and faster operations all while supporting increased profitability.


Where Do We Go from Here? 

At OPTIMIZE 2019, I started by asking the question, how did we get here? By OPTIMIZE 2021, the more relevant question became, how do we shape the future that is ahead of us? 

AspenTech is uniquely positioned to deliver on Industrial AI and the Self-Optimizing Plant. The breadth and depth of capabilities that exist in AspenTech and what a lot of our customers are utilizing today, is what will allow AspenTech, in combination with Industrial AI, to deliver on the self-learning, self-adapting and self-sustaining – or the Self-Optimizing Plant. This will include a set of technologies and processes that work together to predict future state and prescribe or automate actions. Our strategy is to deliver our capabilities as building blocks, or as components, until we deliver the total solution to the Self-Optimizing Plant. And it’s our innovation, the talent of the people in AspenTech, the passion for our industries and willingness to always push the boundaries of what’s possible that will help us be successful in our endeavor. 


Join Us on The Journey to the Self-Optimizing Plant 

AspenTech is an “innovation machine,” and our 40 years of domain experience has put us in a unique position to support and advance complex-industrial digitalization. We are known for innovations and leading products, going back to HYSYS and APC, and the value they provide. Heading into the next decade and beyond, I look forward to delivering on our commitment to help our customers meet the world’s sustainability goals and build a better future for the next generation. 


To everyone who has helped get us to this place, I say thank you. It’s been an amazing ride and I look forward to sharing the next leg of the journey with all of you! Happy Anniversary, AspenTech!



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