Why are we still at a loss with IoT?

5/5 (3)

5/5 (3)

For years, I have been writing about the promise and perils of the Internet of Things (IoT). In many of my articles, I described how the IoT could help transform society and kickstart the next industrial revolution. However, still many people and enterprises are not deploying IoT. We still cannot define in a unique and clear way what IoT is,  much less explain how it will change our lives, without using the example of the smart refrigerator!

Why are we still at a loss with IoT?  Let´s explore.

Lost in IoT Connectivity

With so many IoT connectivity options in the market, choosing the right one for your project can be complicated. It is a scary thought that billions of devices could be connected in a few years to decentralised IoT networks, with no interconnectivity between them, unless we use millions of edge nodes that transfer messages between devices connected in multiple networks. If it is already difficult to justify the ROI of a use case using a single type of connectivity – it is almost impossible to justify that these devices will need to communicate with other devices on different IoT subnets.

It seems that it is easy to get lost in so much connectivity technology. Isn’t that true?

Lost among hundreds of IoT Platforms

At least we can already intuit some of the platforms that will survive among the 700+ that some analysts have identified. I have only been able to analyse about 100 of them in some depth.  Surely my methodology of Superheroes and Supervillains will advance the end of most of them.

It is no longer just one IoT Platform. Although they want to make it easy for us, companies like AWS, Microsoft or Google add concepts such as Serverless, Data Lakes, AI, Edge Computing, DLT and all the artillery of Cloud services to the core features of the IoT platform. It is easy to get lost in the architecture.

Data from the global Ecosystm IoT Study shows this confusion in selecting the right platform for future adopters of IoT. Same organisations indicate that they will use or at least evaluate several platforms.

Initiatives such as  Verizon’s focus on connectivity and systems integrators abandoning their in-house developments to embrace leading vendors’ offerings, will reduce some of the confusion around IoT platforms.

Lost between the Edge and the Cloud

In Do not let the fog hide the clouds in the Internet of Things, I had warned about the degree of complexity that Fog /Edge Computing will add to the already complex IoT solutions.  Now nothing seems to be of great value unless Edge Computing is included.

The Babel tower of alliance and consortia is consolidating, but people still get lost in the acronyms. News such as the merging of the  Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and the OpenFog Consortium (OpenFog) to combine the two largest and most influential international consortia in Industrial IoT, fog and edge computing, has been hailed by many.  The Open Group Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF) is defining the next generation edge computing standards for industrial operators.

And again, the question arises, do all organisations need Edge to start an Industrial IoT project?

Lost in Proofs of Concept

Businesses are estimated to be spending USD 426 Billion worldwide on IoT hardware and software in 2019 alone. Yet, three out of every four IoT implementations are reported to be failing.

Microsoft launched a new research report – IoT Signals – intended to quantify enterprise IoT adoption around the world. The survey of over 3,000 IT team leaders and executives provides a detailed look at the burgeoning multi-billion-dollar segment’s greatest challenges and benefits, as well as related trends. Perhaps it is not surprising that 30% of respondents say their IoT projects failed in the proof-of-concept (PoC) stage, often because the implementation became too expensive or the bottom-line benefits were unclear.

There are technical reasons – for example the use of Rasberry Pi or Arduino boards in the PoC and then later realising that more expensive hardware is needed for the actual project. There are economic reasons when organisations try to escalate their PoC to real implementations and then the ROI does not look as good as in the pilot.

There are organisational reasons when leaders are failing to go all in. If you cannot get the CEO on board, then the probability that your IoT project will end at the PoC stage is almost 100%.

If you are lost in the PoC, these tips can help you implementing IIOT.

  1. Solve a problem worth solving
  2. Keep it quick and simple
  3. Manage the human factor

Lost in selecting the right IoT Ecosystem

Today no significant ecosystem or network of collaborators has emerged in the IoT arena in spite of early and very interesting efforts being made by several players. Since I wrote The value of partnership in Industrial Internet of Things, I have heard, read and repeated hundreds of times how important it is to belong to an IoT ecosystem and how difficult it is to choose the one that suits you best.

Those who have read my articles know that there is no company in the world, no matter how great it is, that can do everything in IoT. Creating an IoT ecosystem either horizontal (technology) or vertical (industry) requires a lot of talent managers able to maintain win-win transactions over time. And according to the results, it appears to me that it is becoming very complicated.

 Remember, you are not the only at a loss with IoT

When it comes to achieving an ROI from IoT, businesses really need to rethink how they are deploying it and ensure that they can manage their sensors remotely, secure their assets, use the sensors and devices data to make better real-time decisions and monetise it. However, for that to happen and to prevent the IoT projects from failing, businesses need independent and expert advice at several levels to find the right people to lead the project and the right technology and partners to make implementations successful.

2
‘Mobile First’ Driving Adoption of UEM

5/5 (6)

5/5 (6)

The nature of the workplace has changed over the years and so has the number of devices being used by today’s employees. More and more organisations are adopting a ‘Mobile First’ strategy – designing an online experience for Mobile users before designing it for the desktop/ Web. This is a paradigm shift from the past, where enterprises modified or adapted their websites, business processes and digital means of communications, to fit Mobile users.

 

Mobile First Drives the Adoption of UEM

Mobile First application designs take into consideration that Mobile users are constantly on the move. Information needs to be presented to them on smaller screens/displays with multi-media interfaces (voice/video), and multiple network connectivity options (Wi-Fi, cellular, and so on).

The global Ecosystm Mobility Study reveals that 73% of organisations have a Mobile First Strategy in place and are at various stages of implementation. About another 25% of organisations feel the need for a Mobile First vision and are formulating a strategy.

Adoption-of-Mobile-First-Strategy-Vision

With Mobile First strategies, organisations are adding a wide range of devices and operating systems (OSs), regular innovative mobile-centric workload rollouts, new mobile apps across multiple functions, and IoT initiatives. As a result, organisations now have the need to support multiple devices and endpoints (including IoT sensors and wearables) multiple OSs, applications, and mobility policies such as BYOD. Organisations struggle to manage these devices, their data, apps and software updates across heterogeneous OSs and platforms. “The way companies are growing and fuelling their teams with devices now, shows the trend that these organisations will follow in the next few years, which will require a higher level of sophistication from the Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) solutions in the market,” says Amit Sharma, Principal Advisor, Ecosystm.

 

 How does UEM Help?

An UEM solution can configure, monitor and manage multiple OSs, devices including IoT sensors, and gateways, and

  • Unify application and configuration
  • Manage profiles
  • Monitor compliance
  • Enforce Data Protection policies
  • Provide a single view of multiple users
  • Collate data for Analytics

It can ease the burden of management activity of internal IT teams and allow organisations to create a more streamlined lifecycle that secures mission-critical technology. It can also offer proactive threat monitoring, access control and identity, and patch management.

A good UEM solution provides IT managers with a transparent and traceable overview of all endpoints within the network as well as the power to manage all connected devices from a single platform. It maps out the network setup and structure by carrying out a complete inventory of all network devices, configurations, installed software, and the drivers for endpoint subsystems.

There are simply too many endpoints within Industrial IoT (IIoT) for IT managers to efficiently monitor manually.  Mistakes will be made, and opportunities to stop breaches before they escalate will be missed. “An UEM solution not only shows the software and licensing situation but scans the IT environment for any irregularities or vulnerabilities and allows risk assessment and patch installation where it is necessary”, says Sharma. “Providing IT administrators with automated vulnerability management will enable them to filter and set search criteria by device, security vulnerability and threat level for the higher and most timely degree of protection.”

 

Industry Adoption of UEM

Customer-focused industries, with mobile workforces, are adopting UEM faster than other industries. The global Ecosystm Mobility study found the top industries that have implemented UEM or plan to in the near future. Most of the top industries cater to a high percentage of mobile workers. Their need to adopt UEM can come from different angles. According to the study, the Telecommunications industry leads in Mobile Content Management (MCM) adoption, and mobile apps for logistics and operations appear to be the key driver for the industry uptake of Mobile Applications Management (MAM).

Adoption-of-UEM Top-Industries

Other industries to look out for in the future are Banking and Healthcare, as they lead the pack when it comes to MDM adoption. Banks are incorporating technologies, such as mobile banking, and enabling payments via smartphones to provide enhanced services to customers. We have also seen the advent of Smart Point of Sale devices which are managed remotely on cloud infrastructure and these millions of devices will also be required to be managed by the banks that issued the devices.

The healthcare industry is another vertical where we can expect a higher uptake of UEM in the coming years. Clinicians and care providers are increasingly mobile, switching from device to device, depending on the task and location. Accessing mHealth applications and patient data from any device securely enables caregivers to focus on patients and outcomes. It also allows them to complete critical tasks from any device whether they are on call or off work. UEM makes HIPAA, SOC 2 and other healthcare regulation compliance easy for the providers.

 

Challenges of UEM Implementation

User experience must be at the centre of any mobility initiative. If the device, app management, or content is not something users want or are able to use, then it simply will not be adopted. The success of an UEM solution lies in the ability of users to quickly authenticate and gain seamless access to corporate apps and data from their devices. Users should also have access to self-service tools that help them manage basic device features and troubleshoot problems quickly.

“We can expect most Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) and MDM suites to migrate to complete UEM suites that manage personal computers, mobile devices and Internet of Things (IoT) and Enterprise of Things (EoT) deployments,” forecasts Sharma. “Organisations should look for a purpose-built UEM solution which is platform-neutral and which cultivates a thriving ecosystem of complimentary mobile solution providers.”

However, there are several challenges that organisations face when they are developing and deploying an UEM solution. Sharma lists the top UEM implementation challenges that can be broadly classified into the following five categories.

“As AI finds its way into mobile devices and virtual personal assistants proliferate in offices and boardrooms, IT admins will have to manage more – and more sophisticated – endpoints. AI will continue its push into mobile hardware and enterprise communication devices, challenging IT shops’ EMM capabilities while at the same time offering potential security benefits.” Sharma adds. “Also, in 2019, voice-activated assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Cisco Spark Assistant will find their way into more corporate offices and conference rooms – becoming yet one more enterprise device encouraging the adoption of an UEM strategy.”

 

Have you adopted an UEM strategy in your organisation yet? Share your experience with us in the comments section.

3
VendorSphere: Cisco IoT at C-Scape 2019 in San Diego

4.7/5 (3)

4.7/5 (3)

During the past 12 months, Cisco has worked hard at refining and relaunching their IoT strategy. Initial overall impressions of the progress are good with strong alignment with both Cisco and their customer needs. Launching IoT to three different audiences at Cisco Live Barcelona, Hanover Messe and Cisco Live San Diego was critical as it enabled Cisco to talk to network, industry and enterprise audiences in a focused and personalised manner. However, there are other market dynamics at play that will challenge Cisco’s IoT Edge strategy and ecosystem play. Both the progress and challenges are discussed in this review.

Overall Rating B+

Much of the 2018-2019 efforts may be collated under three main categories.

  1. Hardware. Establish a hardware foundation from which any IoT device or customer can reap the benefits of Cisco’s larger corporate strategy built around initiatives such as Cisco DNA Center, Intent Based Networking, ACI and Security. With the acquisition of Sentryo and the refresh and launch of their routers, Cisco is now well placed to have legitimate discussions with Industrial IoT or IIoT customers and prospects. Bringing IBN functions to the edge of the network will enable Cisco’s customers to begin to develop richer business outcomes from the network. Rating: A-
  2. Developers: Raise the availability of IoT-based applications through Cisco’s DevNet developer community. Cisco has a significant advantage over their competitors by having over 500,000 developers who understand how to write apps for Cisco’s product line and who now have access to new types of data that can enrich traditional network outcomes. Over time this advantage will become more and more valuable as data becomes utilised across markets as well as within markets thus creating wealth in a much larger ecosystem. Rating: B+
  3. Partners: Transform their partner management through the Customer Experience (CX) program. Much of Cisco’s business is conducted through partners. It is a critical success factor for Cisco to enable the partners to be IoT-data savy. IoT will enable Cisco to accelerate the transition from product sales to higher value subscription services. However, based on discussions with customers, partners and Cisco management, we believe that there is much more work to integrate an IoT strategy in to CX. Rating: B-

The Industrial IoT (IIoT) and Cisco

Cisco identified the IIoT market as one where Cisco’s strengths in hardware, software and partner ecosystem will play well with their customers and prospects. While having a strong foothold in the industrial space, we believe that Cisco’s success will be much dependent on the customer’s workloads and what they want to achieve with their data as it is reducing the complexity between IT and OT (Operations Technology) issues. Cisco has addressed the IoT connectivity and network security at the edge of the network through its ruggedized routers while their competitors are building distributed computing environments. Competitors who are adopting a full IT stack at the edge of the network aim to offer up more OT-based industrial services as well as emerging innovation services such as digital twin, augmented reality and robotic process automation. One key consequence of a customer choosing either approach will result in differing partner ecosystems to form and support the customer. These ecosystems will also be different in how they are managed and by who manages them.

Our recent IoT study shows that while security (a sweet spot for Cisco’s strategy) remains extremely important to an organisation’s solution, technology integration is equally important. When vendors are considering implementing an industrial solution, they need to be able to provide an end-to-end solution that encompasses both the IoT Edge and the IoT Enterprise while smoothly bringing together the OT and IT procedures.

This all starts with an easy on-boarding of any IoT device that is secured and managed with confidence and reliability. The good news for Cisco is that these challenges are also a natural opportunity for Cisco’s partner organisation and systems integrators by creating a new styled IoT ecosystem. However, despite which hardware path an end-user takes, we believe that Cisco and others do not have all of the necessary components of the full ‘IoT’ stack to fulfil a complete solution. To that end, everything will pivot to the vendor who either has the better systems integrations partnership, or, plays in the strongest ecosystem.

IoT Services

Most of Cisco’s business is driven through partners and therefore any success for Cisco’s IoT strategy is dependent on how well they execute it. IoT will accelerate the shift from product based solutions to subscription/as a Service deliverables as more information is generated from the connected devices. and as such the Cisco partner community should be trained/incentivised to offer up IoT. Cisco partners are already undergoing their own business transformation as Cisco’s Customer Experience (CX) strategy is introduced to them. Having the IoT hardware align with the broader Cisco vision was critical to enabling any CX IoT strategy. However, partners may be in ‘transformation’ overload as they embrace the traditional Cisco customer needs and requirements and may be slower to take up the IoT opportunities.

Our IoT study shows that customers believe that the transition from products to services innovation is the highest scoring benefit from an IoT implementation.

However, this is a difficult but critical part of any company aspiring to become a digitally driven business. An IoT strategy is a corner stone of this vision as it will provide the data to be able to run a services or subscription-based business model

Cisco is well positioned here but there is a maturity and readiness gap between Cisco and their customers. Patience will be a key asset as Cisco and their partners close technology gaps for their customers (e.g. adopting and implementing widespread analytics as part of the corporate digital strategy. Most customers are not ready to take advantage of IoT-based analytics outcomes and therefore the RoI case has not been fully articulated).

Finally, Cisco needs to address the mid-tier market with solutions that are compatible with budgets. While it is important to have an ecosystem of high calibre partners within systems integrators, we feel that there will be many customers who cannot afford Cisco’s end-to-end solution. As a result of this Cisco partners are still not ready to address the mid-tier market. Cisco will need to promote offerings across all markets by participating in high-, mid-, and low-end ecosystems. This may mean acknowledging non-5G licensed spectrum/ non WiFi solutions for the most cost sensitive customers for the sake of broader market and industry share.

Recommendations For Cisco IoT

The following are our recommended actions for Cisco IoT based on C-Scape and the prior 12 months of strategy rollout:

  1. Create stronger value proposition for network based IoT business outcomes. Customers are asking for end-to-end validation which means that Cisco needs to articulate a role with the likes of Salesforce, SAP and Microsoft to enhance customer’s enterprise management systems. This is where Cisco’s CX and partner organisation will also be challenged but can open up a lot of opportunity. Move the message up the value chain. More work has to be done with CX. More has to be done with developers.
  2. Articulate a stronger comprehensive Industry 4.0 solution that gives customers all of the application qualifiers to run on Cisco’s hardware. Cisco will be challenged by the IT-lead distributed IoT compute stack over its industrial strength routers. More marketing has to be invested in the IoT Edge campaigns.
  3. Segment the IoT market by customer maturity/readiness/size and their IoT connected assets. Based on asset churn and customer size will dictate the type of new IoT ecosystem that Cisco will either build, manage or participate. For example, an IoT solution of Capex intensive assets with longevity is very different for agriculture supply chain management. Segmentation is critical for Cisco to be successful.
4
5 IoT Solutions Industries are Adopting

5/5 (2)

5/5 (2)

Internet of Things (IoT) is changing how companies do business, across industries. Using connected sensors, better data processing capabilities and automation, industries are looking  to achieve workforce optimisation, improved customer experience, and cost savings in the short term. In the long-term organisations are looking for service and product innovation, as well as a competitive edge from their IoT investments.

In the global Ecosystm IoT study, participants revealed the IoT solutions that are part of their larger IoT deployment projects. Here are the top 5 solutions that industries are implementing, and how they are benefitting from them.

Top IoT Solutions Implemented

 

Smart Security

Smart Security is being adopted in several enterprises, especially in the Financial and Hospitality industries. Aside from improved safety, Smart Security solutions have the potential to deliver more personalised service and better customer experience (CX).

Maintaining security for the guests is one of the top concerns for hotels and smart video surveillance systems, motion detection, audio detection, and alert systems are helping hotels to identify possible threats and get early alerts on potential events.

Hotel chains Hilton and Marriott are leveraging Smart Security IoT solutions to create better travel and stay experiences for guests. They are working on creating enhanced security for their visitors by replacing card-based door keys. Simultaneously, smartphone applications connected with hotel sensors and devices are offering a seamless experience to guests with automated room settings such as  HVAC, lighting, and blinds.

The Banking industry is incorporating Smart Security as well. Banking and financial institutions attract criminals for obvious reasons and to improve security, smart CCTV surveillance, wedge barriers, laser scanner detectors, light barriers, and quick folding gates are embedded with sensors and connected to safeguard against potential attacks. IoT-enabled network security measures to provide intelligent Perimeter Security is also seeing an uptake in the industry.

However, the proliferation of ubiquitous devices also leaves organisations vulnerable to data breaches. Digital and electronic devices incorporated into a hotel’s infrastructure can be exploited by hackers or may jeopardise the security of guests. The now-famous incident of the casino in the US that was hacked into through the IoT-enabled temperature control system in the fish tank is a case in point.

 

Fingerprint Biometrics

While Fingerprint Biometrics is often a part of a Smart Security solution, it is being used more often for asset management, as well as access control. This is fairly common in industries where multiple people fill a particular role, such as Manufacturing, Retail, and Healthcare. In hospitals, for example, multiple clinicians work on the same patient order entry system. Using fingerprint biometrics ensures that there is full accountability for care delivery at any given point, irrespective of the clinician.

Biometrics and its application are redefining the banking experience for rural and the unbanked population – in emerging countries especially – as one of the key authentication methods. Biometrics is helping in e-KYC, often used to open a bank account, on-site cash delivery by scanning fingerprints, opening a bank’s wallet with fingerprint authentication, fingerprint-based ATM kiosks and fingerprint mobile ID all connected through the IoT Solutions.

Governments use fingerprint biometrics to accurately authenticate the identity of travelers, implement biometric voting systems for fair and credible elections, develop fingerprint-based national identification cards and create a composite individual identity. But with this advantage, there could be associated challenges of managing personal databases in a safe and secure environment.

 

Inventory Management

Better supply chain visibility and management is considered one of the most common benefits of IoT deployments, and has use cases in several industries, including Transport & Logistics, and Primary industries. Inventory management became a lot easier and reliable, when IoT sensors and devices can do remote stock taking and track inventory movement.

IoT will enable more holistic inventory management, as asset tracking, asset management and eventually predictive maintenance, are incorporated within the IoT system. Supply chain requirements of Manufacturing organisations can vary vastly – a discrete manufacturing supply chain will vary from a FMCG supply chain. IoT sensors have made ‘track and trace’ more reliable, and easy to customise.  eCommerce giant Amazon’s inventory management and warehousing system is a good example. To manage the large stock,  the storage facilities employ pickers (robots) to pick items from and replenish stock on shelves which in turn improves receiving, pick-up, and shipping times. The inventory is scanned through barcodes which also helps in aggregating information from other warehouses for stock maintenance.

Several Retail organisations make full use of IoT for inventory management. G-Star Raw, for example, uses garment RFID tags to track inventory movements across the supply chain and store shelves. Being able to locate clothes on the basis of style, colour and size in the stores makes the order fulfillment reliable and more real-time.

 

Payment Systems

Several industries other than Financial Services, such as Hospitality, Services, Healthcare and Government are evaluating IoT-enabled payment systems such as mobile points of sale and NFC payments.

On most occasions, these are being promoted by financial institutions.  As an example, MasterCard has created a Mastercard Engage platform with technology partners resulting in innovations which include contactless payments (with Coin), smart refrigerators that can re-order groceries (with Samsung) and IoT-connected key fobs (with General Motors). Capital One has made it possible for its customers to pay bills via Alexa, whereas Starling is experimenting with integration with Google Home to enable queries on payments and balances on the Google Home platform.

There are also several use cases that are not so obvious –Amazon Go offers a shopping experience where no check-out is required. Your Amazon account, wallet and phone are all inter-connected.  When a consumer arrives at a store the application allows store entry, tracks the consumer through the shopping journey and requires no formal check-out at the end of the shopping trip.

However, IoT-enabled payment systems will have to evolve as industries become increasingly services based. There needs to be a focus on the business and not just technology – defining workflows with the right alerts that will automate bill generation and the payment process, irrespective of how complicated the service delivered is.

 

Energy Management

Resource shortage and the ever-increasing price of energy has forced organisations to identify innovative ways of conserving energy. A Smart energy management system can help to reduce the costs and energy consumption while still meeting energy needs. IoT is helping companies to achieve their energy goals, predict maintenance needs, and increase the reliability of energy assets. Smart energy solutions continuously analyse energy data to ensure dynamic performance which in turn manages energy requirements.

Take an example of a smart building management system where date from various sensors is collected and analysed, such as from HVAC, air-quality monitors, and other equipments, and lighting, heating, air ventilation, elevators, room equipment are remotely operated according to the building energy requirements at the moment. This technology helps make smart decisions and provides energy efficiency.

Capital Tower in Singapore, a 52-storey high building, is not alone in being energy efficient. It has a number of in-built smart energy solutions for energy and water efficiency. The building has motion detectors in elevators, smart car parking system, exterior structure glasses which help reduce energy consumption, and water conservation through condensation of air conditioning units. The building has devices to monitor oxygen and carbon dioxide levels ensuring optimal air quality which results in significant energy savings while delivering comfort for tenants.

 

As is clear from the solutions that are being currently deployed, IoT adoption is at its nascency. As IoT deployments mature, there will be more industry-specific uses of IoT, and a shift of focus from asset management to people management (including customers).

What IoT solutions do you use/ intend to use in your organisation? Let us know in your comments section below.

3
IIoT and the Changing Ecosystem

5/5 (3)

5/5 (3)

IoT, Industry 4.0, Industrial IoT (IIoT), odds are that you have heard these terms used around you recently. IoT in the consumer space is a pretty straightforward concept to understand. IoT is an interconnected world of computing, mechanical and digital devices such as in a smart home consisting of thermostats, webcams, smoke detectors, smart doorbells who can talk to each other and managed from the internet or a smartphone.

On the other hand, when we look at things at a larger scale or we can say, an “industrial scale” then it is a whole new IoT world. Industrial internet of things (IIoT) is an extension of IoT and is the use of IoT largely in manufacturing applications, and supply chain management. IIoT is driving the next wave of the industrial revolution or we can say it’s opening a gateway to ‘Industry 4.0’. The key idea driving Industry 4.0 is a connected world comprising humans, machines, sensors and data working together in real-time to transform business and manufacturing processes.

Industrial IoT Components

A traditional manufacturing environment application works by connecting machines to a centralised data centre. The pain points here are there isn’t any interconnection between machines, the latency rate is high and processes are manual and thus prone to errors. Contrary to this, IIoT puts a modern approach and makes processes decentralised. IIoT makes machine interconnection possible converting them into automated and smart processing units. With IIoT machines have the ability to talk to each other in their own Machine to Machine(M2M) language.

The basic components that drive an IIoT system are:

  • Secure intelligent assets such as sensors and smart controllers – that can sense, communicate, store and transmit information
  • Communication and data storage infrastructure – often cloud-enabled
  • Data analytics and smart business apps that generate information from the data
  • Skilled workforce

 

How IIoT Can Revolutionise an Industry

IIoT is transforming the manufacturing industry and other supply chain intensive industries by maximising efficiency, reducing downtime and increasing the overall production. While IIoT adoption is still in a nascent stage, there are some industries that have taken the first mover advantage and have started demonstrating readiness use cases.

The Smart Factory

The adoption of IIoT has reshaped traditional factories to create smart factories. The systems work with interconnected machines and real-time data exchange that merge the departmental communications along with unified operations and information systems.Industrial IoT Smart Factory

How is IIoT making factories ‘smart’?

IIoT has revamped how the traditional units worked. The slow and manual processes are now automated processes with M2M communication. This can be easily demonstrated through an example of how Smart Factories deal with preventive maintenance.

A smart factory has machines, sensors, databases, and humans all working in sync with each other. Sensors within machines can automatically notice a fault and the software logic sends an automatic alert to the right human to analyse the cause behind the fault. With Artificial Intelligence incorporated, machines determine the cause of the faults and go beyond predictive to prescriptive approach pre-empting problems before they exist. This in return reduces the maintenance cost and increases uptime of the factory by introducing parameters to fix machines with accuracy. In-return this leads to increased shelf-life of components and less-time involved in problem detection and rectification.

Energy & Utilities

The Oil & Gas industry is embracing IIoT with a multitude of benefits. Now the energy and utilities have an ability to easily sync data and simultaneously operate across multiple locations. This is made possible with the adoption of cloud, and installation of sensors that capture real-time data on the operating conditions of assets, monitor physical conditions such as temperature, pressure and humidity, and even environmental conditions. The practical scenario here is that Oil & Gas companies are remotely controlling their drills and monitoring the earth’s crust by remote control sensors and maintaining the flow of resources.

Logistics

With so many moving parts in a logistics system, from factories, collection points, and the transport network, it was difficult to maintain and manage a single view of the entire process. Through an ecosystem of sensors on the machines and vehicles covering the entire supply chain, it is now possible to access real-time data. It allows advanced functionalities such as virtually positioning hundreds of vehicles and optimising their route. In the process saving energy and reducing the time for delivery. The consequence is reduced costs for fuel, vehicle maintenance, and staff, plus increased customer experience through shorter and more accurate delivery times.

Other Industries – Promising the change

The adoption of IIoT will go beyond the early adopters and revolutionise several other industries. The Transportation industry is ripe for transformation given that infrastructure is being strained and margins reduced. The challenges of demand and aging infrastructure can be best handled by IIoT.

“The success of smart cars will eventually depend on how ‘smart’ the infrastructure is,” opines Vernon Turner, Executive Analyst, Ecosystm. “Several smart cities are already thinking along these lines, and adoption of IoT in Transportation is set to rise exponentially.”

Another industry that will benefit immensely from IIoT adoption is Healthcare. At the moment, asset management IoT systems have been adopted by several organisations, as in-patient remote monitoring systems that allow clinicians to monitor and analyse patient data remotely.

The real value of IoT will be realised when clinicians have a clear workflow that allows them to monitor patients outside the hospitals,” says Sash Mukherjee, Principal Analyst, Ecosystm. “In the past, healthcare organisations have been influenced by the Manufacturing industry – by Lean and Six Sigma. They will benefit from implementing Industry 4.0 technologies, that will transform not just the provider organisations, but healthcare in general.”

 

Turning IIoT into a Profit Engine

Given all of this information about IIoT you may be thinking about the ROI, associated costs, benefits and the industry-wide exposure of the Industrial IoT. It is imperative that companies large & small are embracing Industry 4.0 change. IIoT is benefitting businesses through differentiated offerings, a creation of newer revenue streams and increased monetisation of existing offerings.

The Ecosystm IoT Study, 2019 looks at the drivers of IoT adoption across industries.

Ecosystm-IoT-Study-2019

The data shows that the key drivers of IoT adoption can all affect the profit margin of an organisation.

  • Innovation. In today’s competitive world, innovation in product designing and service delivery is directly related to a positive impact on profit margins. Organisations are looking beyond cost savings through their investments in IoT and are using IIoT to bring new, innovative products and services to the market. They are looking at creating innovative businesses that can leverage technology and offer cost savings.
  • Workforce Optimisation. It is impossible to bring change without workforce optimisation. Organisations are working on the valuable insights offered by IIoT systems which further provide ways to optimise the workforce and accelerate productivity. Implementation of automated production units and the reduction of manual labour is bringing both productivity gains and increased profits. It is also boosting employee morale – happier employees impact the profitability of organisations, reduces turnover, improves customer interactions, and promotes more job ownership.
  • Customer Experience. Customer expectations have gone up and so have methods to improve customer experience. Organisations are taking IIoT seriously, as it’s unleashing capabilities to improve processes throughout the product life cycle while also improving product quality through better QCs. Feedback to product improvement time has reduced – customer features and product improvement requests can now be handled more efficiently, based on customer data.

Businesses that fully capitalise on IIoT systems are successfully building a competitive edge through their innovative products, optimised workforce, and differentiated products and service offerings to enhance customer experience.

What Lies Ahead?

As IIoT percolates into other industries, we will potentially see a new industrial revolution. This has obviously been attracting investment and technology companies quickly to offer related technology offerings that tech buyers would do well to consider along with IoT.

Cloud

Data management will become an obvious challenge with IIoT-driven data proliferation. Already the industry has been talking about going beyond cloud to “fog” computing.  The real value of IIoT will be realised when the solutions become able to operate on the Edge. This will see an increased uptake of SaaS offerings that will be required for quick and accurate data-driven decisions.

AI

AI will eventually go further than basic machine learning and incorporate deep learning for better predictive and prescriptive analysis. IoT devices with embedded AI will truly revolutionise industries. This is another technology area that tech buyers should keep an eye on, irrespective of the industry.

Security and Risk Management

An explosion of IIoT devices and data will bring new risks. Cybersecurity experts and teams will be required to constantly monitor vulnerabilities, follow security best practices and eventually predict breaches.

 

The Future

Industry 4.0 is very much a buzzword in certain industries, with several advanced organisations already following the business and technology practices. Naturally, there are still many companies that do not see the need for new technology or would rather invest in other areas.

For organisations that are looking to modernise, innovate and remain competitive, Industry 4.0 is a good benchmark of how technology can be leveraged. IIoT is a key enabler of Industry 4.0 and has the potential to deliver benefits to majority industries through increased intelligence and curated data – the question is how soon we can witness it on a scale.

Which are the other industries that you think will benefit from IIoT? Leave your comments below
2
5 recommendations to accelerate implementation of IIoT Edge computing solutions in Manufacturing

4.7/5 (6)

4.7/5 (6)

Is IIoT Edge Computing solution a real Internet of Things (IoT) trend for 2019?

As large hardware manufacturers like Cisco, HPE, Dell and more are building specific, robust and secure infrastructure for the edge, it is believed that there will be a lot of money flowing in the IIoT Edge computing world.

The Development and implementation of Edge-Machine Learning solutions is a complex process and requires a combination of rich industry experience, knowledge of automation (PLCs, SCADAS, HMIs), electrical & mechanical engineering along with unique Edge Computing distributed system. This is used by Data Scientists to develop Machine Learning algorithms which can be utilised by IIoT applications in the manufacturing industry.

For organisations looking to implement these solutions, it is always a good idea to know more on adoption and ask for the continuation of a pilot project for more than a year.

Below are the top 5 things that one should follow to accelerate implementation of IIoT edge computing solutions in the Manufacturing industry –

1)    Get help to find the needle in the haystack

With the fragmented ecosystem of IIoT vendors and companies talking about the Industrial Internet or Industry 4.0, the challenge that always appears in front of the customers is to ask for free pilots from the manufacturers.

It is not just finding the needle (IIoT best or cheaper solution) in the haystack (ecosystem), it is how this needle matches with your business and technology strategies.

I know, I am selling myself, but my recommendation to you is to get advice from independent IIoT experts.

2)    Avoid OT Vendor Lock-In: We need machine data availability

Powerful Edge Analytics-Machine Learning applications require data exchange with the Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) of the manufacturers. By looking at the specifications we may think that it will be an easy task to extract the data from PLCs going through different ways or manufacturer’s help-guides. However, the problem is vendor lock-ins, most of the top PLC manufacturer’s do not allow “easy” data access and extraction methods neither to the customers nor to any third parties.

It is not a question of protocols, it is a question of vendor lock-in and data availability.

Customers must seek and claim for open-source solutions to avoid vendor lock-in during the long run. The open source can better lead to the path of innovation in their manufacturing plants.

3)    Edge Computing and Machine Learning: The last frontier to break between IT/OT

In my article “IT and OT, Friends or Foes in the Industrial Internet of Things?” I was optimistic about the quick convergence of Information Technology (IT) and Operations Technology (OT), I was wrong. If you visit and inspect a manufacturing plant floor, you will see how much progress is still to be made.

Edge Analytics is a key component in the integration of IT & OT and requires a knowledge of both to make it work. The lack of skills & knowledge in the IT and OT fields impact the business & operations and creates a dilemma on which department should lead the Edge Analytics projects.

Manufacturing companies need a role with authority (Chief IIoT Officer or CIIoT) and resources to lead the IT/OT convergence strategy.

4)    Do not stop by the dilemma of Edge: To Cloud or NOT to Cloud

When I wrote in 2016 “Do not let the fog hide the clouds in the Internet of Things”, the hype around Edge Computing and Machine Learning started. There was a confusion about fog computing and edge computing and how this layer will impact the IoT architecture, especially cloud workloads.

Today, many cloud vendors offer IoT platforms and tools that combine the Cloud and the Edge application development, machine learning and analytics at the edge, governance, and end to end security. On the OT side, companies like Siemens have launched MindSphere, an open cloud-based IoT operating system based on the SAP HANA cloud platform.

Manufacturers should continue to deploy and develop Edge Computing – Machine Learning applications to monitor the health of their machines or to improve their asset maintenance or to monitor the quality control of their plant floor processes and shouldn’t stop because of the fear of the integration of their platform with the Public or Hybrid Cloud environment.

Edge Computing solutions help manufacturers to improve their competitiveness without the Clouds but make sure your Edge IIoT solution is ready for easy integration with the Clouds.

 5)    Connected Machines is the only way for new Business Models

Security is another major obstacle for the adoption of IIoT in the manufacturing industry. Manufacturers have been reluctant to open their manufacturing facilities to the Internet because of the risks of cyber-attacks.

In a fast-moving era where platforms and services require products and machines connected, every manufacturing factory should be able to tap into machine data remotely and make it available for Machine vendors. This requires every Edge Computing / Machine Learning system to be built with the capability to share data remotely via open and secure protocols/standards like MTConnect and OPC-UA.

Having machines connected is the first step to make machines smarter, to build smarter factories and to flourish new business models as Remote Equipment Monitoring.

Key Takeaway

The benefits of using Edge Computing / Machine Learning solutions are very attractive to the manufacturers because it offers minimal latency, conserve network bandwidth, improve operations reliability, offers quick decision-making ability, gather data, and process the collected data to gain insights. The ROI in such IIoT solutions is very attractive.

To get these benefits and to grace IIoT journey, manufacturers have to step-up and accept to receive tangible and innovative business value.

8