The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is an exciting and evolving set of ideas and technologies. But even experts admit it can be complicated and hard to pull apart. The challenge for chemical companies is knowing where to start and how to find value. We talked to Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Frank E. Gillett who shared his insights on how to untangle IIoT strategies.
IIoT lets you do three things you couldn’t do before
Embedding computing in things allows manufacturers to create conversations between the digital and physical worlds in three major ways:
- It gives you digital identity of things—it can tell you where that object comes from. That’s crucial for functions such as managing fleets but also for security. The ability to create unique digital identities is core to establishing confidence in using IIoT.
- It gives you the status of an object. That’s information that was previously gathered by a person with a clipboard, which is slow, costly, and prone to error. That means you get automatic real-world insights into the plant. Now a person can type and get status instantly at a fraction of the cost.
- It gives you remote control. Software can automatically send instructions to adjust a production process or shut down a piece of equipment. That improves efficiency and shortens response time to events.
Creating new value for customers, beyond just cost savings
Most companies focus only on the cost saving benefits of using IIoT. But there are ways to create value, for example, for customers. When you have a complex operation like a chemical plant, you expend a lot of effort to get efficient while keeping high levels of safety and control. But what people lose sight of is that sometimes with improved insight and IoT, you can improve your process in a way that also has customer impact.
You can improve the speed with which you deliver your product. Chemical companies can also offer customers more options for their products or flexibility in production. Finally, it helps improve transparency with customers, so they know exactly the status of an order. That all has an impact on the top line, not just costs.
More layers of insight across the customer journey and supply chain
Industrial IoT isn’t just what’s under your nose, in one operational process or facility. After gaining more insights into operations and creating new value for customers, the next step is to layer in third party data. This allows a company, for example, to go upstream to suppliers to gather data about shipments and the supply chain or downstream to ask customers for data about how they use the products.
If you’d like to learn more about how to untangle IIoT strategies, see my conversation with Frank Gillett from Forrester on our webcast, “Unleash the Data: How Industrial Chemical Companies Can Maximize Revenue with IIoT.”