Success with the IoT starts with understanding 'Thing Management'

Some are calling the industrial Internet of Things the next industrial revolution, bringing dramatic changes and improvements to almost every sector. But to be sure it’s successful, there is one big question: how can organizations manage all the new Things that are part of their organizations’ landscapes?

Most organizations think of asset management as the practice of tracking and managing IT devices such as routers, switches, laptops and smartphones. But that’s now only part of the picture. With the advent of the IoT, enterprise Things now include robotic bricklayers, agitators, compressors, drug infusion pumps, track loaders, scissor lifts and more—and all are becoming smarter and more connected.

IoT thing 3.jpg
Apple Inc. MacBook Pro laptop computers sit on display at the company's Williamsburg store in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Friday, May 20, 2017. Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said in May that the company planned to invest at least $1 billion to back advanced manufacturing companies in the U.S. and help create jobs in the industry. Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg

Here are just a few examples:

● Transportation is an asset-intensive industry that relies on efficient operations to achieve maximum profitability. To help customers manage these important assets, GE Transportation is equipping its locomotives with devices that manage hundreds of data elements per second. The devices decipher locomotive data and uncover use patterns that keep trains on track and running smoothly.

● The IoT’s promise for manufacturing is substantial. The IoT can build bridges that help solve the frustrating disconnects among suppliers, employees, customers, and others. In doing so, the IoT can create a cohesive environment where every participant is invested in and contributing to product quality—and every customer’s feedback is learned from. Smart sensors, for instance, can ensure that every item, from articles of clothing to top-secret defense weapons, have the same quality as the one before. The only problem: The many pieces of the manufacturing puzzle and devices in the IoT are moving so quickly that spreadsheets and human analysis alone are not enough to manage the devices.

IoT in healthcare will help connect a multitude of people, Things with smart sensors (such as wearables and medical devices), and environments. Sensors in IoT devices and connected “smart” assets can capture patient vitals and other data in real time. Then, data analytics technologies, including machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to realize the promise of value-based care. There’s significant value to be gained, including operational efficiencies that boost the quality of care while reducing costs, clinical improvements that enable more accurate diagnoses, and more.

● In the oil and gas industry, IoT sensors have transformed efficiencies around the complex process of natural resource extraction by monitoring the health and efficiency of hard-to-access equipment installations in remote areas with limited connectivity.

● Fuelled by greater access to cheap hardware, IoT is being used with notable success in logistics and fleet management by enabling cost-effective GPS tracking and automated loading/unloading.

All of these industries will benefit from the IoT; however, as the IoT world expands, these industries and others are looking for ways to track the barrage of new Things that are now pivotal to their success. Thing Management pioneers such as Oomnitza help organizations manage devices as diverse as phones, fork lifts, drug infusion pumps, drones and VR headset, providing an essential service as the industrial IoT flourishes.

Think IoT, not IoP

To successfully manage these Things, enterprises are not only looking for Thing Management. They also are rethinking the Internet, not as the Internet of People (IoP), but as the Internet of Things (IoP). Things aren’t people, and there are three fundamental differences.

Many more Things connected to the Internet than people
John Chambers, former CEO of Cisco, recently declared there will be 500 billion Things connected by 2024. That’s nearly 100 times the number of people on the planet.

Things have more to say than people
A typical cell phone has nearly 14 sensors, including an accelerometer, GPS, and even a radiation detector. Industrial Things such as wind turbines, gene sequencers, and high-speed inserters can easily have 100 sensors.

Things can speak much more frequently
People enter data at a snail’s pace when compared with the barrage of data coming from the IoT. A utility grid power sensor, for instance, can send data 60 times per second, a construction forklift once per minute, and a high-speed inserter once every two seconds.

Technologists and businesspeople both need to learn how to collect and put all of the data coming from the industrial IoT to use and manage every connected Thing. They will have to learn how to build enterprise software for Things versus people.

How the Industrial IoT Will Shape the Future

The industrial IoT is all about value creation: increased profitability, revenue, efficiency, and reliability. It starts with the target of safe, stable operations and meeting environmental regulations, translating to greater financial results and profitability.

But there’s more to the IoT picture than that. Building the next generation of software for Things is a worthy goal, with potential results such as continually improving enterprise efficiency and public safety, driving down costs, decreasing environmental impacts, boosting educational outcomes and more. Companies like GE, Oomnitza and Bosch are investing significant amounts of money in the ability to connect, collect data from, and learn from their machines.

The IoT and the next generation of enterprise software will have big economic impacts as well. The cost savings and productivity gains generated through “smart” Thing monitoring and adaptation are projected to create $1.1 trillion to $2.5 trillion in value in the health care sector, $2.3 trillion to $11.6 trillion in global manufacturing, and $500 billion to $757 billion in municipal energy and service provision over the next decade. The total global impact of IoT technologies could generate anywhere from $2.7 trillion to $14.4 trillion in value by 2025.

I couldn’t agree more with those calling it the next industrial revolution. You can find more information in my book Precision.

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