Companies are turning to digital to do one of the three things: improve customer experience (CX) using digital technologies; improve their operational efficiency to better serve customers; and launch new business models.
The manufacturing and industrial sectors are undergoing a similar transformation. In my recent discussions with leaders in this market, Industry 4.0 and smart factory dominate the conversations, but the discussions quickly shift to the Internet of things (IoT). While the industrial internet is the most significant manifestation of the digital revolution in these sectors, we are also coming across a broader range of digital initiatives from manufacturing firms.
Tech vendors and systems integrators working with manufacturing firms have identified two types of engagements emerging. Infosys’ Global Head of the Manufacturing Vertical, Nitesh Bansal opined that one set of firms are taking charge of sensors and monitors that they own and leveraging the data assets to improve predictive maintenance, asset efficiency and improve track and trace. Outcomes from these digital operational excellence (DOX) initiatives include:
Collecting data and analyzing it for better predictive maintenance
Empowering technicians to do their job better by providing actionable directions at the point of maintenance
Using augmented reality to help with quick diagnosis and fix
Increasing the asset throughput while increasing safety using automated self-driven vehicles
Businesses can obtain major benefits — including better customer experiences and operational excellence — from the internet of things (IoT) by extracting insights from connected objects and delivering feature-rich connected products.
The mobile mind shift requires businesses to proactively support these IoT benefits for nonstationary connected objects that exist as part of IoT solutions. In particular, the IoT forces businesses to acquaint themselves with the implications of mobility in the IoT context for connectivity, security, compliance with privacy and other regulations, and data management for mobility. This means that:
Mobile technologies are central to most IoT solutions. To date, technology managers have mostly focused on enterprise mobility management (EMM) as part of their mobile activities. This narrow focus is insufficient for IoT solutions.
Mobile IoT is not a technology revolution but a fundamental business process transformation. Mobility requires managers not only to deploy mobile technologies but also to exploit them to support specific business process requirements.
Mobile technologies set the framework for IoT solutions. Mobile has distinct implications for aspects like broadband availability, data management, security, and local data compliance. Ignoring these will undermine your IoT initiatives and return on investment.
My new report, Mobilize The Internet Of Things, provides advice and insights for businesses on addressing these mobile challenges in the context of planning for and implementing IoT solutions.
“The industrial companies that can bring together cloud, open source, and real-time process management with industrial product cycles will be the ones that will win in the digital transformation process.”
William Ruh, CEO for GE Digital
At Mobile World Congress 2016, GE outlined some fundamental insights about the digital transformation efforts of industrial businesses. William Ruh, CEO for GE Digital, a US$6 billion business of General Electric, shared valuable insights about the digital transformation process that industrial businesses need to tackle.
Digital Transformation Is Happening And Offers New Opportunities
Companies that fail to embrace digitization won’t be able to compete in the next decade. William Ruh stressed that while the past decade was primarily about the consumer Internet, the next decade will be about the industrial Internet. Digitization offers one of the biggest opportunities in many decades to companies that are willing to change:
The Internet of Things, or IoT, finds its way into a lot of conversations these days. CES in Las Vegas last week was awash with internet-connected doo-dahs, including cars, fridges, televisions, and more. Moving away from the home and into the world of business, the IoT furore continues unabated. Instead of connecting cars to Netflix or a teen-tracking insurance company, we connect entire fleets of trucks to warehouses, delivery locations, and driver monitoring systems. Instead of connecting the domestic fridge to Carrefour or Tesco or Walmart in order to automatically order another litre of milk, we connect entire banks of chiller units to stock control systems, backup generators, and municipal environmental health officers. And then we connect the really big things; a locomotive, a jet engine, a mountainside covered in wind turbines, a valley bursting with crops, a city teeming with people.
Wind turbines in Ayrshire. (Source: Paul Miller)
The IoT hype is compelling, pervasive, and full of bold promises and eye-watering valuations. And yet, despite talking about connected cars or smarter cities for decades, the all-encompassing vision remains distant. The reality, mostly, is one in which incompatible standards, immature implementations, and patchy network connectivity ensure that each project or procurement delivers an isolated little bubble of partially connected intelligence. Stitching these together, to deliver meaningful views — and control — across all of the supposedly connected systems within a factory, a company, a power network, a city, or a watershed often remains more hope than dependable reality.