The bumpy IIoT road requires a map—lessons learned in deployments

May 24, 2016
Jeff Smith chats with Smart Industry about the challenges and opportunities related to getting started with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Jeff Smith chats with us about the challenges and opportunities of getting started with the IIoT.

Smart Industry: What are some of the greatest lessons you have learned from IIoT deployments?
Jeff: I have learned that data input, computational power, system logic and data presentation can all live in separate locations, both physical and virtual. Additionally, vast amounts of data can be generated at a staggering rate to the point of being indigestible. Because of this, special attention should be placed on system deployment, system adoption and adequate resources for care and feeding.

Smart Industry: You believe that many enterprises underestimate the complexity of IoT integration. Why is that the case?
Jeff: There is an underestimation on a number of levels, in so much as there is general familiarity with all the elements of an IIoT system. Take the Internet, for example. Challenges arise when IT and OT are not coordinating delivery. The pains associated with this range from program-deployment budgets being busted to limited/truncated rollouts occurring.

Smart Industry: Are we still in the learning stage with the IIoT?
Jeff: We are still in the learning stages of the IIoT, but we’re learning fast. The Smart Industry 2016 conference is a prime example of how that learning is accelerating.

Smart Industry: Is IIoT project-justification getting easier as enterprises better understand the benefits of digital transformation?
Jeff: I have found this to be true. You see, in many cases management has for years been seeking ways to optimize processes and save money that heretofore has been financially unviable.

Smart Industry: How important is requirements planning for IIoT deployment? 

Jeff: My general feeling is that without a roadmap how you will know if you ever get there. Requirements are needed more than ever in these projects. Why? In my experience IIoT deployments cut across functional silos and it is important not only for coordination, but to tease out and document what all the stakeholders get out of this system; especially if they do not have to regularly interact with the system but their maintenance of it is essential for its operation. In the deployments that I have been associated with, the one part that can easily be overlooked is working with stakeholders where the edge devices live and looping their input into the requirements definition.

Smart Industry: What projects have you worked on for the US government? 
Jeff: My entry point into IoT was through the management and deployment of a Department of Energy funded Smart Grid project for The Pecan Street Project in Austin, TX. This project sought to deliver energy-usage data in 15 second intervals across eight circuits in 200 homes in Austin, Texas. Daily we delivered to the Advanced Computing Center at the University of Texas 1,152,000 data measurements point per day for more than a year.

Smart Industry: What sessions are you excited about attending at the Smart Industry 2016 conference?
Jeff: I am most interested in attending Tom Burke’s keynote (“Innovation and the Power of Open Standards”) and the session on “Impactful Digital Transformation,” hosted by Dennis Hodges and Jon Sobel.