Consumer products like the FitBit, smart clothing and smarter homes may get more market exposure, but the most sensational internet of things (IoT) story is unfolding behind the scenes at the industrial level. Industry analyst research from Gartner and IDC estimates that 80 percent of digital data is dark, meaning not easily accessible or used. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) is shining new light on the business possibilities of using that data.
According to Bonnie D. Graham, combining operational business data with sensor-generated information delivers innovative ways to drive performance and intelligent decision-making for transformation in every industry. Graham spoke on the topic with three other experts during an episode of SAP’s Internet of Things with Game Changers radio broadcast, entitled, “Reimagining the Industrial Internet of Things.”
The conversation was fascinating not only because I’m dedicated to my FitBit. These devices are only as powerful as the infrastructure behind it.
“How do you take your FitBit…take these specific devices and applications and create a real infrastructure,” said Martin Otterson, Senior Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Industry at OSIsoft. “In the industrial space, if you’re looking at vibration monitoring and you’re only looking at one piece of the equipment in the overall process, you’re missing what may be happening upstream or downstream, to affect that vibration problem…Let’s say a mechanical or chemical or electrical engineer is running some sort of manufacturing facility or process control. How does IT play [a role] to help bring up that operational data and mix it together for this transformational topic?”
Bala Ram, Vice President of SAP Labs in California said how fast and far companies decide to go with IIoT depends on the industry. Besides consumer products and specialized medicine, he sees major opportunities in manufacturing, railroad, energy and natural resources industries.
“Across multiple sectors, whether it’s manufacturing, energy and natural resources, healthcare…there is a big awareness right now that we must use this sensor data to create new business opportunities, and then solve the existing problems,” said Ram. “The challenge is to know how far they need to embrace this kind of challenge and how to begin to move forward. What’s the specific area that we need to start the journey? Do we need to have a bigger vision first, or can we just start with a smaller project?”
Of course, security is paramount when it comes to IIOT, but Alon Kantor, Vice President of Business Development at Check Point said that customers in the industrial world may not have the expertise to add security as an additional layer.
“With IIOT and all the devices and products being sold, there must be security built into the initial delivery of the product. It must be part of the design and implementation.”
Kantor cautioned that security encompasses much more than devices, applications or user access alone. “There needs to be some kind of access control and role management in enterprise applications and IT infrastructure,” he said. “Who controls the device? Who accesses the device at what particular location? It has to be a holistic security model…highly secure, touching on all the capabilities of security.”
In a world where hyper-connectivity is the norm, consumers of products like the FitBit need to remember that the end point is just the outer door of immense transformational power.
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