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Three Predictions for the IIoT in 2018

By Special Guest
Gal Shaul, CTO and Co-founder, Augury
April 03, 2018

It seems like everyone these days is talking about the Internet of Things (IoT) and how connected devices and wearables have and will continue to impact our lives. From wrist watches to smart appliances, we can already see this trend come to fruition.

However, it is in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) where the real societal impacts will manifest in the years ahead. As a confluence of factors make the IIoT more available, affordable and realistic, the way factories and facilities work will inevitably change. As a technology innovator in the space and with skin in the IoT-game, here are a few ways I predict the IIoT playing out in the months ahead:

2018 will be the year of "smart" decisions
As mentioned, we are at a turning point in terms of affordability and availability of the IIoT. This will be a driving factor in 2018. Where companies previously may have excluded IIoT solutions from their toolset because connectivity wasn't up to par or the components were too expensive, the year ahead will witness a surge in facilities making the move to the cloud as prices drop and capabilities increase. More devices will be set-up for edge processing, with revised IT policies to allow for fog computing and new software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions to bring about quick and accurate data-driven decisions.

In many facilities today, there remains a gap between operational efficiencies and decisions at the top. This gap will begin to narrow as machine-to-machine communication via sensors provide the bridge between legacy equipment and modern methods of data analysis and interaction. This is where we will see the biggest change as real-time and historical machine data will become the basis for decisions, rather than simply past experience or gut instinct.

Cloud adoption by factories and facilities will become imperative
Along these same lines, the thinking around on-premises versus in the cloud data processing will need to change. No longer can facilities sit idly by, slowly developing their policies around cloud adoption as the world passes them by. Packaged software and on-premises solutions, as opposed to cloud-based SaaS solutions, will become increasingly obsolete in the year ahead, as the scale of data grows beyond their on-premises capabilities.

Instead, the future lies in a mix of cloud and fog computing, where some computing happens at the edge on devices in the field and some occurs in the cloud. Initial data will be processed in the field, anomalies and change data will be sent to the cloud for analysis, and on-site systems will provide continuous insight on system health to highlight potential areas for improvement.

Risk awareness and security will evolve alongside connected industry
By virtue of simply being a new technology, the IIoT presents a new attack surface, but it's not that the IIoT is inherently riskier. Instead, the problem exists in the fact that the IIoT presents an entirely different type of risk that requires a new way of thinking and awareness to address.

2017 witnessed a raise in creative cyber attacks in the past years and our best protection for the future is to join forces to stop cyber crimes. With cloud computing, you get the best line of defense as your application is always up to date. Cyber security experts that are constantly searching for vulnerabilities and fixing them instantly is a part of the best practices used by third-party cloud applications.

Both sides—the developers of these new IIoT solutions and those facilities putting them to use—will need to change their thinking in the year ahead to examine security protocols around sensor-to-sensor communication, sensor-to-gateway communication and system updates and maintenance. Regardless of where data is stored, it will need to be treated in a secure and private manner.

Shifting Into 2018: Getting Smarter
The distinction between flashy buzzwords and discussions around making a real change in the market is in truly understanding the details. Talking Industry 4.0 is important, but what does it really mean to move your mechanical data to the cloud? Industrial IoT is nice to talk about, but what are the actual security implications? We did a lot of talking in 2017, but in 2018 we are primed to implement these changes to make good on the promise of the connected industry.

At the end of the day, nobody knows a facility better than the people who spend hours every day working to ensure the health of their own machines. In 2018, the main challenge will be to navigate this fast moving technology landscape to choose the vendors that are right for your equipment. This year will be one of uncovering new ground, a necessary milestone in ushering factories and facilities into the smart future.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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