What is IIOT?

Actually by my count there are at least 3 IIOTs.

In my opinion there is not fixed definition of IIOT.  Let’s start from the beginning.  IOT is basically a smart device for example in your home.  They vary in complexity from smart A/C units and other appliances to a simple smart toothbrush.  The toothbrush market is not quite as popular as the smart appliance market, but the technology is there.  Conceptually we can all one day have toothbrushes that do things as basic as monitor how often we brush to monitor our heart rate and plaque.  I was in a conference where one speaker projected that toothbrushes may one day be used by our doctors to detect our likelihood of having a heart attack (i.e. plaque correlates to heat attacks). In summary that is IOT and I hope it is pretty straight forward.

IoT with woman using a laptop on a coffee table

IIOT is more complicated to define in my opinion.  The reason for this is that capturing, storing and analyzing real-time information is not new in the industrial sector.  In process industries this is actually pretty old.  Process manufacturers, oil companies and the like all have 1,000s of sensors on equipment to monitor many physical parameters.  For decades these companies have used pretty sophisticated models to monitor their plants, predict behavior, maintain equipment and optimize design.

  1. That said often software companies will differentiate this from IIOT by saying that IIOT is when the data goes up to the cloud. 
  2. Other companies will take it a step further and include the concept of edge devices for include analysis and etc.
  3. The third category is the when companies make the equipment itself intelligent by embedding smarts into the equipment.  For example, a smart pump that has embedded intelligence and can communicate that it is about to go down or overheat.

In this new space all of these are correct.  The onus is on the team to agree on a definition.  It is very important to agree on a definition since this is usually what will drive the company’s IIOT strategy.  If concept #1 is the IIOT strategy that is a fairly simple to do with a lot of available technology.  If concept #3 is the IIOT objective then it is probably important to make sure it is well defined to allow new technology updates to plug into this future vision.  Meaning selecting concept 1 if you really mean to select concept 3 can cost a company heavily in the future. 

Let me know if I missed a definition.

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