Will this be the year that your enterprise makes the IIoT leap?

For the second January in a row, we’re using this lead issue to look ahead at the industry conversations likely to follow over the next 11 months. Like last year, there’s still no bigger buzz than the impact that digital transformation and the industrial internet is having both on work and on the people who do work.

I’m writing this note on the 10-year anniversary of the launch of the iPhone, which marks a genuine milestone in the history of both internet-enabled communications and mobile computing. As the iPhone evolved and the iPad emerged, savvier organizations and IT workers caught on early to the opportunities available to digitize operations. For example, a close friend who works in commercial real estate directed his teams early on to rethink his organization’s processes as each new Apple device launched, reducing business friction in the field and moving toward nearly paperless operations.

Many other contributors this month round out the digital conversation:

  • IFS CTO Dan Matthews identifies three myths that cause organizations to hesitate on IoT projects.
  • Skkynet’s Bob McIlvride examines how to combine in-house skills with outside expertise to build systems that enable deeper data-driven insights into your assets.
  • Bruce Hawkins and Scott Bruni review the foundational IIoT steps that plant teams can take, noting that roughly 60% of the instrumentation needed for critical assets often already exists.
  • Tech Toolbox’s Sheila Kennedy surveys the network security solutions landscape in an age of IT-OT convergence.
  • Jeff Shiver of People and Processes outlines six steps that can improve the speed and quality of cultural change in your organization.
    Finally, in her Big Picture Interview, Bentley Systems’ Anne-Marie Walters looks ahead to the role that 3D modeling will play in the internet-enabled asset management landscape.

Survey: Valuable Lessons from IoT Early Adopters

A recent survey by Machina Research (Lessons Learned from Early Adopters of the IoT: A Global Study of Connected Businesses) suggests that the IoT is moving quickly from novelty to necessity. Nearly two thousand management-level employees in companies earning $15 million and up per year in the USA, UK, Japan, Australia, and Brazil representing all major sectors of industry took part.  About 20% of the respondents have started some kind of IoT initiative, and close to 30% expect to do so in the next 6 months to 2 years.

Focusing on the innovators and early adopters of the IoT, the survey gleaned some useful information which may be helpful for those who have not yet implemented a strategy—and in many cases, those who have.  It seems that the majority of early adopters of the IoT took a do-it-yourself approach, and most of them found the IoT more complicated to implement than they expected. Future adopters say they will not repeat that mistake.

“When asked about primary concerns around IoT, adopters have some insight that non-adopters just don’t yet have,” states the report. “Adopters point to ‘complexity of the IoT solution’ as the largest concern around IoT, a concern that non-adopters have yet to consider fully.” Among those who have taken IoT initiatives, over half of them mentioned concerns about complexity, compared to only a quarter of those who have not yet taken the first step.

Other top concerns included security, ease of integration with existing systems, and the expense of implementation. These commonly-held concerns are undoubtedly part of the reason for the reluctance of others to undertake IoT projects on their own.  The majority of them responded that they are planning to work with an IoT-capable partner.

“Based on past experience of our adopters, companies who haven’t yet adopted IoT initiatives should not go it alone,” the report recommends. “Instead they should focus on finding partners whose core competency is connecting products securely.”

The report suggests that an ideal partner should not only have a technology platform, but should be able to simplify the complexity of the IoT.  They ensure that security is not an ad-hoc afterthought, but instead is inherent to the design of the system itself.  The partner should be able to easily integrate the IoT solution with existing and legacy systems, and offer significant cost savings and ROI.