4 ways to prepare for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

By | 5 minute read | August 4, 2017

You’ve very likely heard of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the impact it is having, and will continue to have, on businesses and consumers alike. According to Gartner, 8.4 billion connected devices will be in use in 2017, up 31% from 2016. This number is expected to reach 20.4 billion by 2020 and includes devices such as smart TV’s, digital set-top boxes, fit-bits, smart electric meters, and security cameras. Your homes, cars, and workplaces are all becoming automated. Of those 8.4 billion devices, over 3 million are aligned to business applications, expected to grow to 7.5 billion by 2020. That’s nearly 50% of the pie and it is where the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) comes into play.

What is the IIoT?

IIoT is the application of IoT to the manufacturing industry, but it goes a step further than that. Whereas the IoT is the connection of a device to the internet, the IIoT is that but also focuses on the transfer and management of critical data and insights. In the industries where IIoT is most prevalent – energy, transportation, water, manufacturing – reliability is not optional.

McKinsey estimates that the IoT will have the potential to drive productivity across $36 trillion in operating costs across multiple industries, including manufacturing, health care, and mining. Applications include:

  • Process optimization, especially in manufacturing and logistics
  • Efficient use of natural resources, including smart meters and smart grids for water and electricity consumption
  • Remote health-care delivery

If you work in an asset-intensive industry, as many attendees at MaximoWorld this week do, you’re particularly interested in how to begin thinking strategically about transforming your business and moving towards connected operations. Figure 1 shows the top capabilities that best-in-class firms are prioritizing as they begin their transformations.

To achieve these capabilities, here are 4 considerations to think about as you move towards the future with IIoT that came out of our panel of industry leaders at MaximoWorld:

1. Are you sharing a common language?

You can’t work towards a common goal if you’re not using the same language and context across your organization. When you talk about the IoT, the IIoT, the cloud, preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance, asset management, reliability, digital transformation, etc, does everyone have a shared understanding of what you are trying to achieve and how you are going to get there?

Wherever you are in your digital transformation, you need to be able to continue turning the ship even as the language continues to evolve and this requires continuous education and alignment of the team driving this change. It needs to be a cultural shift that is built into the organization as it evolves.

2. Define a plan that delivers on your strategy

To drive any transformation, whether digital or otherwise, it is absolutely critical to have a defined plan. You need to identify where you are and what you need to do to get you to where you want to be. This piece is essential. Once that plan is defined, share it widely and get the required collaboration to make it a success. This cannot just be a maintenance initiative or a technology initiative. Asset management is a team sport and to effectively get the buy-in to move towards the future, you must get others excited about the opportunity that lies ahead.

It’s also important to ensure that this plan is actually delivering on your overall strategy. Shiny new toys are great but if it doesn’t further your goals, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and find a path that will deliver.

3. Expect to fail at times

Like any new technology, it can be easy to get excited about the possibilities that lie ahead and forget that challenges will arise. IIoT is the latest growth opportunity but to make it work, expect to have moments of failure. You cannot possibly do everything at the same time and sometimes the process will break. As long as you learn from these moments of failure and apply those learnings as you progress in your journey, failure will be fast. If something does not work at one department in one of your 75 sites, does that make the whole project a failure? Not as long as you don’t repeat the same mistake at the other 74 sites and what you learned from that one helped to make the other 74 successful.

4. Get HR involved early in the transformation

People are a critical piece of the puzzle when attempting to make major changes in your organization, which is why it is important to get them involved early on. Every person in your organization has a stake in the company objectives and if this initiative is aligned to those objectives, they have a stake in this too. Not everybody in the organization needs to be an expert on reliability or maintenance or asset management, but they should understand the principles around it and why making continuous improvements in these areas is a benefit to the company as a whole. HR can proactively push and develop people to gain the skills necessary to make the transformation successful. They can implement requirements into roles that directly align with addressing the most problematic areas. It can’t be stressed enough how important people are to this process.

Being a change agent is never easy

All of these considerations have one thing in common and that is that it requires you to be a change agent in your organization. Taking your digital transformation to the next level involves strategy, collaboration, resiliency, mobilization of company-wide efforts, and flexibility. It’s an exciting time to be a leader in asset management!

Learn more about enterprise asset management and the IIoT:

To learn more about what manufacturers are doing to move towards IIoT, check out these resources:

  • Aberdeen report: Connected Operations in the IoT Era, the Asset Management Edge
  • Launch an interactive demo of Maximo to see how to keep your most critical assets running at optimum efficiency.
  • Learn how the IoT will change Manufacturing Operations in this webinar.

References to MaximoWorld activities and presentations used by permission: MaximoWorld by Reliabilityweb.com.