As enterprises start to realize how valuable Internet of Things (IoT) data is for improving production quality, design efficiency, supply chains, service capabilities, customer experience, partner relationships and more, they’re starting to formally strategize IoT adoption.
In 2017, enterprises will look to invest in platforms that make it easier to incorporate IoT in their overall business strategy. I predict that nearly every business in every industry will have an official IoT strategy by the end of this year.
The opportunity is fueled by sensor-based devices, the emergence of 5G networking and the Industrial Internet. The Industrial Internet is purpose-built and optimized for industry-specific applications. It augments operations by connecting industrial assets to each other and, if necessary, to the cloud. Data is collected from the assets and analyzed for meaningful outcomes.
With this approach, analytics are not only processed centrally. Dramatic drops in hardware costs, particularly in sensors and storage, has enabled the rapid evolution of intelligent assets at the edge. By 2019, 45 percent of IoT-created data will be stored, processed, analyzed and acted upon close to, or at the edge of, the network, according to IDC.
This approach makes real and near-real-time notifications possible, giving workers tools to further improve the operation of highly productive automated machines.
What are we seeing now?
2016 brought glimpses of these intelligent assets at the edge.
In agriculture, users are collecting soil temperature and moisture data in real-time in the field. The tractor or combine can then adjust planting depths or pesticide application to accommodate these environmental conditions.
In transportation, Autonomous Trains and Positive Train Control allow for the automatic adjustment of train speeds based on temperature, wind conditions, precipitation and time of day. Also in transportation, Automotive Intelligent Winter Services sense road temperatures, adjusting for time of day and precipitation to set safest routes.
What will we see in the future?
In manufacturing, expect to see a contiguous “digital thread” run through the product lifecycle management process, from design to operation to redesign.
In healthcare, this approach could result in the rapid diagnosis and treatment of disease and illness. And in public sector, massive volumes of audio and video recordings generated by police dashboard cameras could support face recognition and even security notifications.
What challenges will be faced?
Though the opportunities are massive, enterprises will need to overcome some challenges in adoption.
Ubiquitous connection requires new levels of security, especially in an age when cyberattacks are on the rise and known to target IoT devices. Enterprises also need to ensure their IT infrastructure supports the strategy. This may require modernization of platforms, networks, even data feeds. The “edge architecture” will need to be evaluated and upgraded to support this new world.
Joan-Carol (JC) Brigham has been an analyst in CSC’s ResearchNetwork for eight years. She has led strategy work and managed much of the startup of industry research in the ResearchNetwork. Currently, she is a principal and business manager analyzing the manufacturing industry.