Has IoT app development begun to take the globe by storm? A few weeks ago we discussed the growing need for more third-party app creation for the Industrial IoT industry. This week, we dive deeper and focus on those early adopters of industrialized IoT app development and what industries these “bleeding edgers” are serving.
We all know by now the number of connected things is projected to grow massively over the coming years. Injecting new software applications into the industrial IoT world creates even more monitoring, control and usage of devices and data at the edge.
Some would call this influx of software with industrialized hardware a modern marriage. The manufacturing sector, for example, seems to have found a use for implementing next-generation hardware to improve and automate operations, especially along the assembly line. At the same time, cloud-based software solutions are being leveraged to improve data analytics, thus improving actionable intelligence in real-time. What’s more is this new environment is incentivizing industrial manufacturers to cultivate new business models as they are finding that solutions they have developed in-house are as valuable as the hardware they manufacture. By tracking the performance of manufactured products in the field, manufacturers gain faster feedback loops and insights from customers. For example, instead of waiting months or even years for performance feedback, the integration of cloud-based software and modern hardware provides manufacturers this information in what is approaching real-time. This allows them to respond quickly with fixes, advice or, when needed, replacement equipment.
As we enter into uncharted territory for many in this new interoperable, connected tech world, we have to also consider the cybersecurity measures in place and how it will combat any vulnerabilities as the surge of new, industrialized software applications enter our critical infrastructures. Security must be manufactured into the product from the very beginning – this includes tamper-proof hardware, authentication protocols, data encryption and more.
Big companies like AT&T and Microsoft are joining forces for the good of the developer. We all can agree software is taking hold of certain business operations, so it is only natural companies would seek an easy solution for enterprise to bring about this change. The industrial side may appear to move slower when it comes to implementation, but that is only because of the various moving parts – machine-to-machine (M2M) devices, sensors and wireless technologies – that must sync with precision without missing a beat. Software is the enabler of this interoperability.
So what is the next step in this industrialized development? Jeff Dorsch with Semi Engineering believes that, “Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications proliferate in critical infrastructure, such as the power grid and water supply, the importance of the underlying software and the availability of an open-source platform for app development is coming to the forefront.”
This fully-functioning data driven ecosystem will have to decide if open or closed systems are the best for their needs. Google and Apple, for example, have provided internet enabled ecosystems of devices. The problem is that they are closed ecosystems that limit which devices and which data can speak to each other. If industrial players want to take advantage and accelerate their own digital transformations, market opportunities and revenue, then they must take a closer look at open and secure technologies and start innovating for IIoT today.
So as we all start to dip our toes in the industrialized software development pond, be sure to consider how your desired outcome matches the factors of delivering business value – customer responsiveness, security, revenue generation and operational efficiency. All are important in and of themselves, but different business models drive different decision-making. Embracing the IIoT app development opportunity early on might prove to be the smartest investment from a competitive advantage standpoint – being able to answer the “why” question is what will eventually separate the high-performers from the rest.