IoT Blog

IoT Blog

Turning Disruption Into Opportunity with the IIoT

by PwC
By Rob Mesirow, Principal, Connected Solutions, PwC

Theory meets practice as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) becomes a reality

For the second year in a row, PwC hosted the Digital Revolution Summit, a one-day conference held during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. This year’s event included a panel designed to provide an end-to-end perspective on the promise and reality of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Panelists, including Sierra Wireless President and CEO, Jason Cohenour, came from the technology companies that provide the IIoT’s building blocks, the telecom companies that offer the necessary connectivity, and the manufacturing companies looking to benefit as they put the technology into practice. The virtue of this approach lay in teasing out the implications of the IIoT for each kind of player—not just the benefits but the challenges and pain points as well. It added up to an impressively full view of the state-of-the-art Industry 4.0.

Technology providers
The companies selling the software, connected devices, and analytics engines needed for the IIoT stress the need to overcome the inherent complexity of connecting millions of devices and analyzing the results in order to achieve real business value. To that end, connectivity standards that balance quality of service, speed, cost, and power consumption must be decided on, which in turn will demand a truly collaborative effort across all players in the IIoT value chain. Similarly, tech companies must work closely with clients to solve their specific problems efficiently, and within clearly defined cost and effectiveness parameters.

Connectivity players
The telecom companies and others engaged in providing the device connectivity that will drive the IIoT are still looking to resolve several key problems: transmission bandwidth, rollout of new technologies, such as 5G and Low Power Wide Area networks (LPWA); security, of course; and new cloud-based services with which to collect and analyze massively increasing amounts of data. These companies will be instrumental in sorting out the complexity and scalability challenges that are fast coming to the fore in a world where companies are already rolling out implementations where there are one million devices and each device has more than 500 sensors.

Manufacturers

Creating value in the industrial manufacturing sector has long been a matter of delivering high-quality products to the customer, on time, and at reasonable cost. But the IIoT offers entirely new ways to create value, both internally, by breaking down product silos, increasing engineering efficiency, and enabling cross-functional innovation, and externally, by combining products with new value-added connected services that can provide the raw data for customer and usage analytics. The technology, however, is valuable only insofar as it relieves an internal pain point or customer problem. Success requires starting small—running pilot programs to solve specific problems and testing analytics capabilities, and scaling up from there.

Three Key Points
  1. The IIoT is real.
  2. Work from value creation and business outcomes and problem statements to technology solutions, not the other way around.
  3. Complexity is your enemy. Demonstrate plausibility with pilot programs, then move to scale up quickly.