The potential of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is enormous, promising an explosion of data from physical-world assets that allows enterprises to optimize resources, slash costs, reduce energy usage, and boost overall efficiency.
If the Benefits Are So Clear, Why Has IIoT Adoption Lagged?
The answers are as much due to the complexity of existing market offerings as they are due to the complexity of the organizations themselves. Even the most complete solutions require cross-functional input and identifying and “internally selling” those individuals can often prove quite challenging.
Top 5 IoT Challenges
Complexity / Technical Challenges
Lack of Budget / Staff Resources
Lack of Knowledge
Haven’t Found the Right IoT Solutions
Microsoft, IoT Signals: Summary of Research Learnings, p.10
Selecting a Solution That Maximizes Return
The market is flooded with vendors who have latched onto the buzz words and promises associated with the IoT, but what do these vendors offer and, more importantly, what should you be looking for from an IoT partner?
DON’T ADD MAINTENANCE
You’re trying to implement this technology in order to improve efficiency, so the solution itself should not add an extra layer of work. Reducing the upfront integration friction is a great start, but make sure that the sensor hardware and/or wireless network won’t need dedicated service technicians or third-party contractors.
A persistent pain point in most wireless sensor networks is the finite life times of batteries, which necessitate routine maintenance. These maintenance cycles can be especially frequent in industrial settings, where actual battery life is typically much lower than advertised. Battery lifetime will also take a hit as you demand more continual data visibility from that battery-powered network. If one of your goals is to optimize maintenance resources, avoid solutions that force you to trade one maintenance event for another.
FIND A “ONE-STOP-SHOP”
Again, you’re trying to implement IoT technology in order to make your life easier and more efficient, so the last thing you need is the added overhead of cumbersome integrations that require more of your valuable time and are most likely outside your core area of expertise. Many IoT vendors provide discrete aspects of a fully functional solution, putting the onus on you and your team to piece together the rest. If you find a cloud platform provider, then you must figure out how to feed that platform data, both extracting the information you need and wirelessly transmitting it. Similarly, you may find an IoT vendor that offers sensors, but how do you funnel that data to where you need it and how do you transform it into the insights you need?
What you need is an IoT solution—an integrated offering that handles the data collection, data transmission, and data analytics. With an end-to-end solution, you can focus less on implementation and more on realizing the benefits of new data insights.
IDENTIFY A LONG-TERM PARTNER
The potential benefits of IoT technology span the totality of your facilities. You should look for solutions that flex accordingly. The solution that you select should have an infrastructure and product roadmap that makes it easy for you to add digital intelligence to assets across your facilities. With such a solution, the marginal cost of each new asset or data stream will trend downwards as the vendor’s network proliferates your facilities.
EMBRACE THE SERVICES MODEL
By definition, the industrial IoT (IIoT) represents a convergence of operational technology and information technology, which also blurred the traditional business models of the two. Increasingly, the IIoT is bringing a more IT-centric “as-a-services” model to the OT world, and this should be welcomed by those searching for complete IoT solutions. Not only does this model tend to move the IoT “investment” from capital expenditure to operating expense with more palatable price tags, but it comes with a level of ongoing support that is driven by the vendor’s financial incentive to secure your subscription renewal. A services offering can be a more cost-effective, lower risk, and faster means of deploying an IoT solution within your organization.