The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing and taking over new markets. It is helping companies extend their value to customers, prioritized assets portfolio, maximize production, address environmental health and safety issues, manage equipment, and streamline logistics.
Currently there are two areas where IoT will have the greatest impact within the marketplace:
1. Connecting services with telematics and predictive analytics: Multiple companies are experimenting with these technologies and have successfully completed proof of concept. Customer value has been proven and customers are asking for more.
2. Streamlining manufacturing processes and integrating suppliers: This concept is already showing value, adding to company profitability, and gaining significant attention from multiple industry leaders. The ROI calculation is simple within this area.
Any new adoption IoT technology within an industry will come with challenges. The three largest challenges companies have seen are:
• While cloud based technology will be part of IoT solution landscape, many field assets will require real-time assessment. We can’t have sub-optimal devices, instead we need dependable cable devices that will get the job done efficiently.
• Real-time simulation will also be an essential capability to make sure processing latency doesn’t cause issues. This is where Digital Twin can operationalize the data to improve in-field asset performance and also guide the development of new products.
• And last but not least, anytime a company is dealing with ‘in-field’ assets, data security becomes a concern. Who has access to the data and how can the data be accessible will be critical in development. Each asset becomes a small “fortress” and the “fortress gate” should only open for selective individuals.
IoT is marching through the industry sector and solving challenges companies are facing. There is a clear path for evolution. The next five years could bring significant changes for the way business will be conducted. Connected services will become the industry standard and the main differentiator for companies. Customers will expect to pay for high quality services rather than just buying the product. A recent example is the Siemens train monitoring technology, which was offered to the Spanish rail company, Renfe, as a performance based contract. With this technology, Siemens has shown that their trains are on time 99.9 percent of the time. Gradually technologies will be developed across different markets in the next 5 years. All of this will drive innovation in cloud computation technology. New, faster, and accurate predictive algorithms will be developed.
To support the 5 year revolution plan and computational ubiquity, there are a few critical pieces missing today: Understanding the opportunities and benefits, developing strategies, and then making investments in people, processes, and technologies
• Understanding – 90 percent of the market leaders pursuing the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) initiatives don’t fully understand the underlying business models and long-term benefits of IIoT.
• Strategy - Businesses need to first develop a strategy around IoT and then fund the initiative. Nearly 84 percent of worldwide executives believe IoT is good for business but 73 percent of them admit that they have not made any progress.
• Action - Only seven percent have developed a fully funded comprehensive strategy.
Even when a fully funded strategy is developed, there are implementation barriers such as; Identifying the right technologies, training the employees, and ensuring data security. Other considerations that need to be taken into account are wireless technologies and sensor deployments. Durability and reliability of sensing technologies will be key components in success.
"IoT is marching through the industry sector and solving challenges companies are facing"
Companies will also need to have discussions and understanding of their product complexities due to enforced regulation and how customers react to increased product complexity. Customers no longer want to deal with integration of the product into their equipment. Complete system solutions will need to be delivered to support this product on field and provide information about this product to service channels. One example, which a company may consider, is augmented reality (AR). It is a great approach; however, it requires IT architecture with cloud interface and storage. There are no companies who can offer complete integrated solution for augmented reality combined with predictive maintenance. On top of that, there is infrastructure limitations in some product operated locations with no internet access. This limitation will require an innovative approach to achieve the same capability results. How do you introduce augmented reality in this situation? What alternative solutions are available to overcome internet absence? These questions will need to be addressed and discussed.
To successfully implement IoT solutions companies will need to:
• Make IoT a Strategic priority and secure C-level support for project funding. Without leadership support it would be impossible to implement solutions. The leadership team needs to fully embrace the changes.
• Focus on existing customers, with an eye toward acquiring new customers. Apply 80/20 rules, focus on 20 percent of customer who bring 80 percent of the profit, and implement solution to differentiate yourself from competition. The design protects the solution to be easily expendable for new customer’s needs.
• Work with IT Department to identify new technology solutions to reduce complexity and utilize existing systems. There is a handful of legacy systems and legacy data will need to be addressed, bringing subject matter experts will help reduce cost and the downtime of the systems.
• Anticipate product and market evolution to properly align IoT solutions. IoT technology could take sharp turns and being on top of the new developments will secure company long term sustainability.