As the press raves on about the Internet of Things (IoT), at least one industry analyst wonders what all the fuss is about. Peter Zornio, Chief Strategic Officer of Emerson Process Management shares his view in Forbes that industrial data systems have been doing for years many of the things that the IoT is being touted for.
“Since there was no public Internet when we started, we didn’t call it the IoT,” he says, “but it was based on the same concept: Integration of very large amounts of data to achieve better decision-making.”
At the same time, Zornio acknowledges that using the Internet for industrial data communications is a new phenomenon with lots of potential. The combined effect of low-cost sensors, improvements in the Internet, and Big Data capabilities will allow for much better monitoring and supervisory control for remote operations. There are a few areas that pose significant challenges in the short run, but he confidently expects they will be resolved over time. Two that he mentions are complexity and security:
Understanding a single process is one thing, but working with data from a whole factory is quite another. Zornio compares an industrial plant to a human body–each one is unique, complex, and constantly changing. Analyzing data in a meaningful way at the level of one or more plants will be rewarding, no doubt, but how to do it well is still being developed.
When considering security, Zornio focuses specifically on the need to protect a company’s data from the competition. This concern, he feels, will slow adoption of the IoT in certain areas. “Unnecessary secrecy will stunt the IoT’s potential impact throughout entire industries,” he says.
As industry expands its reach to embrace the IoT, the value Skkynet’s secure-by-design approach will become increasingly apparent. Plant managers and engineers will be more willing to allow connectivity to their systems when they know that their data is secure behind completely closed firewalls. As access to real-time production data becomes more common, corporations will develop the skills and tools needed to analyze and share that data, to better understand the complexity and derive full value from modern, connected industry.