With the New Year upon us, now is the time to look back at 2017 to see how far we’ve come, and look ahead to see what’s on the horizon. After sifting through a number of predictions, it seems that most of the pundits agree that the forecast is good. The Industrial IoT continues to grow steadily in popularity, as it becomes one of the leading application spaces for the IoT.
“There’s no question the industrial side of IoT is growing rapidly,” said Bret Greenstein, VP of IBM’s Watson IoT Consumer Business. “In a way, it’s kind of supercharging manufacturing operators and people who do maintenance on machines by providing real-time data and real-time insights.”
“It’s clear that the internet of things is transforming the business world in every industry,” says Andrew Morawski, President and Country Chairman of Vodafone Americas. “As the technology has evolved over time, adoption among businesses has skyrocketed.”
Finding business cases
As part of this growth, the forecast is to see companies begin to apply the knowledge they have gained from small-scale test implementations and pilots to build solid use cases for IIoT technology. “The focus is shifting from what the IoT could do to what it does, how it fits in business goals and how it generates value,” said J-P De Clerck, technology analyst at i-SCOOP. We have seen this among our customers here at Skkynet, and we plan to share some of their experiences and use cases later this year.
Edge computing becoming a necessity
Most analysts foresee growth of edge computing as part of an overall IIoT solution. As we explain in a recent Tech Talk, edge computing means doing some data processing directly on an IoT sensor or device, as close as possible to the physical system, to reduce bandwidth and processing on cloud systems. Daniel Newman, a Forbes contributor says, “Edge networking will be less of a trend and more of a necessity, as companies seek to cut costs and reduce network usage.” He sees IT companies like Cisco and Dell supporting the move to edge computing in IIoT hardware, as well as the industrial providers that you would expect, such as GE and ABB.
Security remains a fundamental challenge
There is one thing that pretty much every analyst and pundit agrees on: security is still a challenge. Various ideas are being discussed. One commentator suggested that companies making large investments in IIoT have gained or eventually will gain the expertise and resources needed to meet the challenge. Others suggest that an altogether new model might be necessary. “We have reached a point in the evolution of IoT when we need to re-think the types of security we are putting in place,” said P.K. Agarwal, Dean of Northeastern University’s Silicon Valley in a recent Network World article. “Have we truly addressed the unique security challenges of IoT, or have we just patched existing security models into IoT with hope that it is sufficient?”
As we see it, patching up existing models is not the answer. Providing secure access to industrial data in real time over the Internet is not something that traditional industrial systems were designed to do. As more and more IIoT implementations come online, and as companies search for robust systems that can scale up to meet their production needs, we believe they will come to that realization as well. Our forecast for 2018 is that an increasing number of those companies will begin to realize the value of an IIoT system that is secure by design.