Technology /

4 Industrial IoT Challenges, According to the Experts

By Justin Bingham | August 29, 2017

Recently, Janeiro Digital co-hosted a webinar in conjunction with PTC and ThingWorx. We discussed Industrial IoT and the gap companies often have between their systems, applications, and their business. Industrial IoT and its mission-critical capabilities have the ability to bridge that gap by delivering real-time data that enables companies to make their systems and applications more productive.

Still, there are some challenges that need to be overcome before IoT can be fully adopted. Below are some of the key points highlighted during the webinar.

→ For the full experience, you can also view the webinar in its entirety.

Integration

Companies have an abundance of systems in place that each serve their own data-gathering purpose (e.g. ERP, CRM, or fleet management). Since these are siloed, employees will often turn to Excel to pull the data streams from all of those disparate systems together and attempt to derive value. Industrial IoT is a similiar, yet more evolved process, that connects varying systems in order to draw value from existing data.

It can be difficult to build a solid IoT integration strategy because, frankly, IoT is yet another technology that needs to be integrated in order to “play well with others.” What many companies are missing, though, is that, connecting sensors to machines in a physical environment is a great target to have in your sights, but connectivity to machines can often be a tertiary goal. The real measure of a successful IoT integration should be whether it has helped you optimize business processes within the context of connectivity. Just because you can connect a device to the internet, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should.

Security Concerns

The fundamental cybersecurity best practices such as  transport-level security, encryption, and 2FA should always be applied to Industrial IoT. An additional component to consider, however, is that IoT-enabled machines may reside in unsecure physical environments. With physical access, a malicious person or entity could inflict significant damage.

IoT device manufacturers need to put more emphasis on physical security. Admittedly, the value chain for manufacturing IoT devices is highly complex, but that’s all the more reason to ensure that the security chain is solidly linked every step of the way.

Enterprise Benefits and Goals

It used to be that when you purchased a car you were given a mileage-based maintenance schedule. Today, auto maintenance is largely condition-based. If something acts up, you get it repaired. But knowing whether something is acting up requires monitoring.

This is precisely what Industrial IoT does: It allows companies to consume only the information they need to consume, when they need to consume it. Another great benefit of IoT is that you don’t have to have certain processes or identical systems in place. There’s no longer a homogeneous requirement — IoT is truly heterogeneous-friendly.

Most companies have systems with low-hanging-fruit that could benefit from IoT-enabled data. Many already have the ability to connect their existing systems and processes, but they don’t know what to do next. In this case, the best thing to do is to look at the business case for your implementation. What’s going to give you measurable, fast value that you can hang your hat on? What will benefit your customers or end users the most? It’s wonderful to have a digital vision, but companies should first focus on a smaller-step use case.

There’s no nirvana or single leap to a connected world. Companies need to start small and act fast. Then, they should build on the successes of that work as time progresses. IoT platforms tend to lend themselves well to such an approach.

Building a Team

When outlining an IoT integration strategy and planning for your team, pinpoint the employees who want to further the state of IoT at your company. Don’t turn to only processes experts. Look for thinkers, questioners, and those individuals who are highly motivated. It also doesn’t hurt to have a strong executive sponsor on board to inspire everyone.

Equally important in embarking on an IoT integration is defining what success will look like. Rather than meandering your way towards a goal, give your team a clear notion of where the end zone is. Once everyone is aligned behind the same goal, with the same destination in mind, you’ll be able to head in the same direction to achieve real success.

→ Need help getting your IoT initiative off the ground? Get in touch.

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