The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can be simply defined as the extension of the Internet of Things to include business and industrial sectors. While this definition certainly encompasses the gist of the IIoT, it falls short in explaining the importance of what some are calling the next industrial revolution.
Looking at the Industrial Internet of Things versus the Internet of Things shows that the primary difference is the application of the tools, devices, and analytical platforms connected to the network. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers mainly to consumer-based products connected to computing devices.
This article seeks to clarify the IIoT not simply by defining it scholastically but by laying out the groundwork, mechanisms, and industries involved in the use and development of the IIoT. A brief, yet thorough, overview of the Industrial Internet of Things awaits ahead.
A Revolution in Its Infancy
The Industrial Internet of Things is still in the early period of its lifetime. While the IIoT can be seen in most industrial sectors, if not all of them, some companies continue to lag behind the curve when looking at full implementation of the ever-evolving capabilities of this network.
There are myriad reasons behind the seemingly conflicting opinions toward the IIoT. Some companies choose to see the potential and “ride the wave” of progress while others appear to have concerns about security (or the lack thereof) and their abilities to utilize the technology as it currently exists.
Naysayers and the play it safe crowd may find themselves left behind if they continue to avoid moving forward with the IIoT. Studies suggest that between 500 billion and 30 trillion dollars will be spent on the development and implementation of advanced IIoT technologies in the next decade.
This investment is not only in the increased efficiency and productivity afforded by utilizing certain aspects of the IIoT. Companies will begin, or continue, crossing into new worlds that they would have never imagined being part of at their inception.
For instance, Google’s foray into automotive automation (think self-driving cars) was on few, if any, minds when the search engine was first introduced. Most leaders across industries agree that a landscape shift is on the horizon within a few years. The IIoT is on the precipice of an explosion in innovation.
Industrial Internet of Things Devices – Not Just Things
When discussing the Internet of Things, typical consumers associate virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. Rightly so, as many devices connected to the IoT function via those platforms.
The number of things connected to the IIoT is predicted to reach 50 billion by 2020, per Cisco. This is a massive volume increase given the fact that the current number is closer to 25 billion.
Devices like Smart TVs, Wi-Fi capable washing machines, and smart home products all fall under the global IoT umbrella. Industrial devices, however, are far less intended to make industry convenient and much more capable of providing huge loads of data that can be turned into powerful knowledge.
The data provided by the various sensors and diagnostic tools included in the long list of devices connected to the IIoT will prove more invaluable than any other part of this technological revolution.
A quick example: Sensors installed on a wind turbine and connected to analysis tools combined with the ability to relay the analyzed information back to the turbine as instructions can make it possible to increase output by 5%. While the sensor may seem like less of a thing than typically imagined when discussing the IIoT, it has the capability of revolutionizing wind farming.
To put it simply, the IoT represents convenience while the IIoT represents exponential technological advancement.
Industrial Internet of Things Companies – Why Take the Lead?
As discussed earlier, there are two crowds when it comes to the IIoT. Those looking ahead with grand visions of potential and those watching them. The IIoT has immense power that has yet to get anywhere close to its full potential. So why isn’t everyone jumping on the bandwagon and investing every penny?
The primary concern for those playing it safe is security. Plenty of stories have come out about the IoT and its vulnerabilities. From hackers ordering Amazon from victims’ accounts remotely to spying via Smart TV, the consumer side of the IoT is rife with peril.
This is embarrassing enough for the IOT, but things can take a far darker turn with the industries involved in using the IIoT, including healthcare. Hackers were successful in gaining control of pacemakers and insulin pumps as proof it could happen, sending shockwaves of fear through the industrial community.
Obviously, work is being done to shore up the vulnerabilities, especially in circles where private information is expected to be passed through the portals of the IIoT. This lets corporate innovators feel some confidence moving forward.
Companies leading their fields in manufacturing, mining, agriculture, utilities, healthcare, and oil and gas see the benefits of the monitoring capabilities provided by the IIoT and its associated devices.
The use of insights provided by adequate input from IIoT monitoring devices is anticipated to increase efficiency in ways never thought possible. The IIoT is introducing predictability to unpredictable environments, which many believe will lead to an increase in revenue and positive outcomes.
The IIoT is the sum of all its parts so its name may be a bit of a misnomer. From physical things to data output, a seismic shift is anticipated across many industries thanks to the far-reaching impacts of the burgeoning IIoT.