Discover the transformative power of IIoT and Intelligent Edge devices in this analysis of Microsoft’s Digital Operations Signals report. Read the blog below to gain valuable insights into the evolving world of connected businesses and find out how to drive costs down and efficiency up.
Recently, Microsoft released a report Digital Operations Signals. Previously known as IoT Signals, this report has always possessed good insights, but the renaming reflects something I have been seeing around the globe. Businesses of every size are in the midst of what I call edge-first digital transformations. IoT is in our personal lives every day, but we all equally use IoT in the professional world as well. The business side is known as Industrial IoT (IIoT) and is expected to surpass $1T by 2029. Intelligent edge and IIoT devices will redefine every facet of work far beyond what we now take for granted every day in work environments.
I encourage all to review Microsoft’s report, as it offers good insights for anyone engaged in or preparing for an edge-first digital transformation. The abundance of technologies coalescing around IIoT will be disruptive if business leaders do not stay in front of controlling the sustainable evolution of their businesses. With that said, there are a few points I would like to call out from the report and layer in my own perspectives from working with companies around the world who are actively transforming their businesses.
- “65% of organizations are now executing an IoT strategy.” I would draw attention to the word ‘strategy’ as almost every company has connected IoT devices in use today. Around 5 billion are deployed today, with industry analysts projecting 29 billion by 2030. Having a well defined strategy to understand the implications of how your business and the work of your employees will transform is essential with such a growth in disbursed and automated work. This is also a very short timeframe.
- There is a logical sequencing outlined in the report’s “five stages of IIoT initiatives.” However, I would contest that while this is a good guide, it is a legacy approach. IIoT is a massive industry with no standards, and no one technology company affords an enterprise a complete IIoT architecture or portfolio. As such, every enterprise has embraced a broad mix of IIoT solutions and stitched them together.
When I first sat in reviews with John Chambers, as Cisco’s Chief Digital Officer, we discussed how IoT would evolve from a state of connected devices to a state of process-led re-innovation via IoT devices. His views could not have been more accurate. This is exactly where we are today. As a result, the five stages have evolved for CFOs and COOs, with the first step now being companies taking complete account of all the IoT devices and spending they have dispersed across a plethora of vendors. How would any business establish an edge-first digital transformation strategy if they cannot accurately account for what is deployed, how it is used, how long it can be used, where it is underused, and how much waste is tied up in legacy procedures? The added first step now not only infuses valuable insights into the go-forward IIoT strategy, but also drives costs out in the first month with sustainable savings defined month on month to aid in transformation funding.
- “IIoT is crossing the chasm…enormous momentum that IT/OT integration is enjoying across industries: 79% of manufacturing assets are now connected in some form, and 65% of manufacturers have partially or fully implemented IoT strategies.” Like the bespoke vendor approach to IIoT, consultancies and manufacturing equipment OEMs have long talked about Industry 4.0 in an isolated manner. They did this because similar to networking OEMs who separated their portfolio from how enterprises run, OT was viewed as isolated from IoT. Yet today, we see companies pushing IoT efforts back into OT and vice versa. Enterprises are redefining their work as more and more equipment and IoT devices can be connected and operated in one management platform with a unified workflow.
- “Strong IoT vendor ecosystems speed up time-to-value.” What is fascinating is that the most significant collaboration in enabling sustainable edge-first digital transformation is not coming from the legacy IoT OEMs, but from companies who recognize successful IIoT efforts are no longer merely about a connected device ecosystem. Rather, networking has already moved to the edge, and therefore running a successful IIoT effort is all about a secure, unified workflow that is more times software-driven in a single management pane. Some of the most innovative tech companies have moved from competing to unified solutions, enabling any enterprise to control their digital transformations. These collaborations account for expense transparency, workflow, AI, security, and a fully connected ecosystem freeing enterprises from legacy technical barriers that expand the evolution of their businesses while harvesting legacy wastes.
Look around at any hour of any day and you will see IIoT operations. The FedEx truck, that traffic light, security cameras, GPS-enabled shipping containers and the autos we ride in. Connected business is all around us and, as mentioned, is poised to grow at a staggering pace. That pace of IIoT growth does not yet account for the possibilities of generative AI to automate or augment 40% of all working hours (according to Accenture). With billions of IIoT devices stitched together, legacy business procedures hold enormous opportunities, so the possibilities to unify visibility across your existing IoT and edge efforts are even more valuable to business sustainability. Edge-first digital transformation is now the responsibility of every business leader to ensure their business sustainably evolves, and that starts with a proper strategy and accounting of where to begin. As IIoT technology and generative AI take dramatic steps forward, it is best to work with those companies pivoting control to the individual enterprise to holistically execute their strategies.