Internet of Things—How Will It Play Out?
I remember when I started my career in manufacturing software more than 20 years ago. Development and installation was based on Unix boxes on the factory floor. There was some hard pressing by Microsoft to get their Windows® operating system into manufacturing. Would customers accept such a change? Windows was already making inroads in the consumer market, but would it play in an industrial market? All the prognosticators were suggesting that it would.
Fast forward to today. And like in the consumer market, Microsoft Windows has the lion’s share of factory floor systems—a fulfillment of these past predictions.
As I read the Manufacturing Business Technology article “Manufacturing Technology Trends Shaping the Industry,” I can’t help seeing déjà vu all over again. One of the main trends is the IoT (Internet of Things), a key component of the Industrial Internet, a term coined by GE. The idea of Smart Machines, Big Data and Advanced Analytics that make up IoT are in their infancy, but I see them having great potential. As a leader of Industrial Internet solutions, GE is investing heavily in these technologies.
We live in very exciting times. I already see the idea of smart machines in cars, when they let me know if I’m going to back up on an object, veer out of my lane or warn me if someone is in my blind spot. And this doesn’t even include the idea of driverless cars, which many are saying we could see commercially by the year 2020. Truly amazing stuff.
These smart machines will make their way to the factory floor with examples of machines warning us that they are not feeling well, need attention, or even potentially making suggestions as to how they could perform more efficiently. And these machines will collect a lot of data that we will need to store and analyze. Having Big Data alone is not helpful; helping customers learn from this Big Data will be where the value is.
Imagine automatically getting insight into the terabytes of data being collected in real time. This data is overwhelming for humans to handle. But add analytics to the data and pull out insights not easily seen by the human eye, and you can start to see the potential and competitive advantage this can have for manufacturing companies.
In another 20 years, I’m not sure what will be in place, but I’m sure it will be amazing. I’m amazed by the technology that we have available today. I can’t see what could possibly be better. I can’t imagine what my kids will say to their kids about how they used to have to do things.
So what are your thoughts? How are you embracing the Internet of Things, now or in the near future?