Companies unprepared for Industrial Internet

Posted on 5 May 2017 by Jonny Williamson

Executives realise that the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) represents significant business growth opportunities, yet their businesses are unprepared for it, according to recent research.

IoT and the Future of Making Things Servitization -StockLarge-scale integrators and channel partners are expected to play a leading role in the planning and implementation of the industrial internet of things at many companies due to major internal hurdles. These include gaps in the technical skills required and a lack of management knowledge needed to deploy and integrate IIoT into operations.

The study, released by a consortium led by the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network, took in the views of executives and decision-makers at global enterprises the likes of Airbus, Balfour Beatty, Embraer, Philips Lighting, Whirlpool, TVH, Hitachi and others.

Head of Thought Leadership for the BPI Network, Dave Murray explained: “Executives are telling us that IIoT technologies are about to play a significant role in business and industrial performance, delivering significant improvements in operational efficiency and uptime, as well as growth from new business models, products, services and customer experiences.

“Nevertheless, less than 2% of large companies say they have a clear vision for how to move forward or have large-scale implementations underway. That dichotomy suggests we are experiencing the lull before the storm of IIoT transformation. This is an opportunity for real competitive differentiation and advancement.”

Key findings:

  • 52% of executives at large enterprises — and 41% of executives at all companies — expect IIoT to have a significant or major impact on their industry within three years.
  • 55% of all executives say IIoT is gaining adoption within their industries, including both pilots and larger-scale adoption.
  • Just 1.5% of executives at large companies say they have a clear vision with implementation well underway, while another 57% are either beginning implementation, have pilots underway or are committed and in the planning stages.
  • New products and services lead as the area most companies say they will focus their IoT investments (35%), followed by customer touchpoints (29%), and manufacturing (23%).
  • More cost-efficient operations (47%), product and service differentiation (36%), and improved customer engagement and satisfaction (34%) are seen as the top benefits of IIoT.
  • Security and data privacy are seen as top concerns by executives, followed by the cost and complexity of IIoT adoption and the need for new management and workforce skills and training.

IIoT readiness lacking

Making the transformation to IIoT-enabled businesses will clearly require new skills and mindsets. Chief among those requirements, according to executives, are new technical skills (51%), better data integration and analytics capabilities (41%), and rethinking the business model (33%). Most executives, however, say their companies have significant gaps in these areas.

Some 31% of executives say their organisations face a “major skill gap” in their IIoT readiness, while the same amount say the talent gap is “large, but improving somewhat”; 20% say their IoT skills are quickly improving, while another 7% believe they have most of the skills in place.

Similarly, just 12% give their company an “excellent” rating in their capacity to develop and deploy applications that utilise real-time insights and systems monitoring. Another 25% rate their capacity as good, while one-third say their corporation’s ability in this area is moderate and improving.

Real-world case studies

Regional jet manufacturer, Embraer says new jets that integrate sensors to identify and predict maintenance needs now have a remarkable 99.5% dispatching rate, in which less than 0.5% of planned take-offs are affected by unexpected maintenance issues, according to its vice president of information systems, Alexandre Baulé.

Embraer and its partners are also working toward an IoT-enabled, customised experience for passengers, in which each person’s favourite movies, music and even temperature settings are available before they take their seats.

Airbus is also exploring sensor technology to improve the predictability and safety of its aircraft, but also envisions widespread use of IoT technology in its ‘Factory of the Future’ platform—an approach that will include cyber-physical systems, 3D printed prototypes, open robot interfaces and advanced data analytics to increase its quality and productivity.