Am I looking at IIoT as an industrial IT business strategy?
Often we don’t realize that when we implement the Internet of Things into our devices and structures, we’re essentially digitizing our business assets. From the get-go, that’s an instant advancement in business strategy, streamlining information, data and resources in a way that makes us that much more agile than our competitors.
So why not look at industrial IT solutions as exactly that? – a business strategy. Consider it a project to enhance goal attainment in everything from marketing, to sales, to customer service. What IoT can then specifically do is identify those continuous improvement measures at a much more granular level, and the ultimate result is improved efficiency clear across the board.
This cements the goal we all want with IIoT integration, in that it’s not just a technological implementation, but a valuable tool, allowing us to be aware of all connections we have with our back-end IT systems.
Is my IT department fully committed to this?
Seems like an unnecessary question to ask, but often there’s a disconnect between what industrial IT should be involved in and where IIoT fits in. Traditionally our IT manages operational efficiency – do our devices work the way they should? – whereas IIoT is all about whether or not our devices actually communicate data.
We often think that it should be automatic. If they work the way they should, that must mean they’ll do what they need to do with IIoT. Sadly that’s not always the case.
From an architectural standpoint, every single IoT end point – all your devices and APIs – are actual IT systems with applications and technology built in. For them to operate within the IIoT spectrum, they also need to be managed within a portfolio just the same as with our business applications, their supporting technologies and devices.
If not managed the same way, what happens when a piece of the IIoT puzzle falls off? The same thing happens as when a server goes down – a critical piece of the value stream goes missing. That’s something we don’t want when implementing IIoT throughout our entire organization.
In short, be sure your extended industrial IT footprint has visibility beyond that of the “normal” portfolio of assets, accounting for even the smallest issues causing disruption and disconnection.
What about operational technology (OT)?
Updates and upgrades to equipment and devices are typically common, particularly with IT, but with scarce overlap. In fact sometimes it’s all about IT and not OT! After all, if the devices and systems work just fine the way they do, don’t fix them or waste time seeing if there’s something better.
The industrial IT solution of IoT, however, changes the landscape dramatically. You now have the ability to see, well, everything going on with your devices: usage, installation dates, upgrades available, etc. etc.
Seemingly overnight new operational technologies morph the stratosphere in innovative ways, so as an organization you now can conceptualize and keep up with the trends, applying those new ideas to the OT domain. With IT portfolio managment streamlining the integration IoT in the industrial manufacturing environment, it’s now possible to catalog those new assets, devices and software, documenting everything from impact to lifecycle, planning and even functionality.
You can certainly call that a bonus benefit for your business.
Lastly, what should I do with my edge systems?
Old habits die hard. Old methodologies and systems might die even harder. Sometimes it’s difficult thinking you have to overhaul an entire institution with an integration meant to change technology from the ground up, but the fact is edge systems do change at a high rate of speed. Regardless you have to keep up with those systems just as much as with your new devices.
IT portfolio management
can provide alignment with those lifecycles across the back end, thoughtfully planning retirement of any edge systems and understanding the commercial implications of that. Preparing ahead of time makes it that much easier to implement something new. Additionally, you’ll end up understanding the consequences of backwards compatibility, recognizing the cost and development resources.
Be aware of cyber-security threats, of course, with edge systems being the center-point of vulnerability. You can then catalog that knowledge and be prepared in the event of a crisis with IT portfolio management measuring everything from usage to reach. This would then allow you to gauge the risk, creating mitigation strategies to force shutdowns if necessary.