Bell Labs have published an amazing book titled “The Future X Network”. It’s not for the faint hearted, but if you want a hype-free, authoritative view on where we’re heading you should get it.
The second chapter on “The Future of the Enterprise” starts with this hard-hitting statement: “Enterprises are in many ways the laggards of the new digital era. Their processes and internal and external service remain rooted in the analog or physical world, and the digital systems they use are frequently disjointed and out of date.” It continues by indicating the need for a comprehensive digital transformation, says independent M2M writer and analyst, Bob Emmerson.
The chapter also highlights the dramatic impact that smart mobile devices, the cloud and big data analytics have had on the enterprise landscape, which would seem to negate the earlier laggard statement. However, a little later it becomes clear that the comprehensive digital transformation they are writing about is going to involve SDN (software-defined networking) and NFV (network function virtualisation) and that takes us into heavy-techie water.
Those developments are some way off and between then and now one would expect the Industrial IoT to play a role in the transformation process. After all, it brings analog things into the digital era, so why the relative lack of progress?
M2M solutions have been delivering tangible business benefits for many years, but most of the enterprise sector has been missing out on the IIoT front. Point solutions such as fleet management and remote maintenance have been deployed, however as far as I can see (I’m open to correction), while integration into the enterprise environments and mainstream IT processes can be realised, the process is individually engineered. That takes time so it costs, but more significant is the fact that it represents a silo solution: IT managers cannot make changes, e.g. add or drop a new application. That would involve a trip back to the drawing board (how quaint that expression sounds). That ability is something that is taken for granted in enterprise environments.
IIoT solutions are more complex than those of M2M since they involve IT (Information Technology), the enterprise domain, and OT (Operational Technology), the M2M domain. CTOs and ICT managers see the latter as dark side of the moon technology, which is understandable when it’s proprietary. And why should they understand it when most everything in the enterprise uses open standards and technologies? Rather then spend a lot of time creating open standards for M2M and the IIoT, why not employ those IT standards and technologies in the OT domain? Then, and I venture to suggest only then, can you create a unified IT / OT environment. The OT domain would then appear to be a seamless extension to the corporate network.
The author of this blog is the independent M2M writer and analyst, Bob Emmerson.
He can be contacted at: [email protected]
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