The year of industrial-strength IoT

Andrew Milroy/Frost & Sullivan
Vision 2016

The IT industry tends to overhype new developments. Within APAC, for example, much-hyped cloud computing has only been adopted to any significant degree in developed economies.

The last few years have seen much hype on the transformative potential of the IoT. But M2M technology and the use of IoT tech in the transportation and logistics sectors are nothing new. Radical transformation in the way we live and work driven by the IoT remains away.

In 2015, despite the hype, it remains difficult to find examples of end to end smart grids or smart cities which draw upon the promise of the IoT. There has been some interesting activity in the manufacturing sector, driven by non-IT companies. Bosch and Siemens in Germany and GE in the United States are currently making advances in creating intelligent and autonomous factories. But, most practical applications, in manufacturing, have, so far, related to predictive maintenance. In Asia Pacific, the world’s largest manufacturing region, most manufacturers have yet to see the benefit of IoT technology.

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Vision 2016 Supplement

Here are three key trends to watch for next year.

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity will be of paramount concern to all involved in IT as cyber attackers become increasingly determined. For every publicized successful cyber attack, there are thousands of others that go unreported. Mobile devices and the IoT increase the number of attack vectors. The convergence of operational technology with information technology enables successful attackers to wreak far greater havoc than before. Industrial control systems are now more vulnerable, and security must be the single most important consideration as these systems are developed or modified. In the past, security was considered a sort of insurance policy which was purchased after a system was deployed. In 2016, we will see security prioritized and built into the architecture of any new system before it is implemented. 

Decentralized computing 

The IoT will lead a shift towards decentralized computing. Early mainframe systems were centralized, then we moved towards decentralized PC systems. Now we’re shifting towards centralized cloud-based systems, but the IoT will shift us to a more decentralized computing environment. More processing will take place locally ‘at the edge’ and P2P networks will be used so connected things can communicate directly rather than sending data to a centralized data center first. The ability of connected things to interact directly with each other is critical to the development of the IoT. Centralized architectures will make IoT deployments inflexible and ultimately unsustainable.

Industrial IoT 

The Industrial IoT (IIoT) encompasses some of the more immediate IoT opportunities. The IIoT includes industries that depend on physical, durable assets: manufacturing, healthcare, automotive, transportation and logistics. Examples: GE now uses Internet-enabled sensor technology for the predictive maintenance of jet engines, ThyssenKrupp uses the technology for predictive maintenance of elevators, and oil/gas firms use sensor technology on wellheads for predictive maintenance. There’s also a move towards providing industrial-centric cloud-based resources with industry-specific apps and data analytics. Despite early moves towards a decentralized model of computing, the cloud model will continue to mature and offer ever more industry-specific applications.

Andrew Milroy is SVP of ICT for Frost & Sullivan, Asia Pacific

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This article was first published in Telecom Asia Vision 2016 Supplement

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