As you’re aware, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)—a fast track to the future of businesses—has taken off. Although the resulting new products won’t hit the market for several years, companies like Tesla, Google, GE and Ford have all invested in technologies and automation.
And while change and innovation take time, manufacturers that haven’t implemented an IIoT strategy are at a severe disadvantage. By the time the first products from these powerhouse companies hit the market, businesses that haven’t invested in, say, artificial intelligence will have lost their opportunity to compete because the time gap is too great.
According to Bill Ruh, chief digital officer for GE, “Industrial companies that don’t invest in data [IIoT] now will eventually be like consumer companies that missed the Internet.”
Creating an IIoT strategy
The next 5-10 years of innovation are set to completely change industry. Now is the time to implement an IIoT strategy, which is critical to a business’ future success. An effective IIoT strategy should include the following:
Defined features and functionality
To remain competitive in the next 5-10 years, a company needs to identify and define the features and functionalities that will carry them into the future. Key questions to ask:
- What features and functionalities will be most needed and expected by our current or targeted customer base?
- What features and functionalities is our competition currently developing?
- What strong value multipliers does our company want to add to our products?
Bridging the gap
Comparing where your company is with where it needs to go is the first step to making critical decisions. Essentially, you need to evaluate what it will take to meet your goals. Key questions to ask:
- How big is the gap we need to bridge between where we are and where we want to be?
- What technologies do we need to integrate to meet our goals?
- What is standing in our way from getting our products to where we want them to be?
Create an implementation plan
Identify and prioritize the necessary steps to meet your product goals. The implementation plan may be revised, but having a roadmap in place is critical to ensuring that your company is always moving forward. Key questions to ask:
- What small or easy-to-implement changes can be made to quickly improve features and functionality and add more value to the market?
- What areas do we need to further explore or research to meet future goals?
- What are the most important features and functionalities that need to be implemented in a timely manner?
Smart machines aren’t built in a day
An ideal example of a successfully-implemented IIoT strategy is Google’s AI-driven cars. Their product won’t be available for purchase for several years, but the time they have invested in this product has placed them well at the front of the race to produce smart vehicles. At this point, other car manufacturers that are just getting started on this future technology may as well drop out of the race. Don’t let this happen to you with your products.
While your company likely isn’t producing smart cars, there is a growing list of expectations for utilizing smarter machines in manufacturing. Data from IIoT, AI and automation opens the door to new possibilities for refining and innovating products. The sooner you implement an IIoT strategy, the more poised your company will be to remain competitive and maintain your customer base.
Anurag Garg is the CEO of Dattus. He received his BS and MS at Purdue University, both in electrical engineering. He is a published researcher in reliability and micro/nano devices and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org