A long time ago in a galaxy—wait. Before we get to that, let’s recall the key pillars making up the Industrial Internet:

  • Brilliant machines. Industrial equipment like MRI machines, wind turbines, and jet engines contain sensors, CPUs, and wireless connectivity to broadcast real-time information about their states.
  • Big data. Powerful analytics interpret massive amounts of brilliant machine data in real-time and turn that into actionable insights for decision makers.
  • Workers and digital business transformation. Data-savvy workers of the Industrial Internet age not only use analytics to make better decisions, they can also use them to create new business models based on data, such as selling outcomes and guaranteed efficiencies.

That’s what the Industrial Internet does, and how it does it. But the question of why is wholly different. To answer why, we might just go ahead invoke a little bit of “industrial light and magic.”

INDUSTRIAL INTERNET

EPISODE I: THE MACHINES AWAKEN

It is a difficult time in the industrial world. Economic forces and global trade are making the task of gaining insight into processes more complicated as chaos and complexity wreak havoc on existing business models.

During the struggle, a revolution in computing, combining powerful sensors, mobile technology, and wireless communication emerges, known as the Industrial Internet, and promises to turn the tide against chaos and complexity.

As businesses accept and adopt digital transformation, the dark forces of short-term thinking, fear, and poor implementation threaten to unravel the efforts.

All hope now resides in the ancient order of domain experts to ensure that the powerful technology is used effectively against chaos for the benefit of all creatures throughout the galaxy…

Domain experts, the Jedi Knights of our time

The question of why the Industrial Internet doesn’t have to do with efficiencies or ROI. It has to do with purpose. The Industrial Internet exists to solve problems. More specifically, it exists to bring order to chaos. To control complexity. To make decisions about the unpredictable.

In order to do that, to serve that larger purpose, you need insight not only into the technology, but also into the forces that make business processes difficult.

It’s very easy to think the Industrial Internet will solve business problems merely through technology. But that view is incomplete. The Industrial Internet is a great tool – an elegant weapon, for a more civilized age –but it is only effective when wielded by a master.

In the industrial world, the Jedi masters are the domain experts–the engineers, physicists, and business strategists who have extensive firsthand experience combating the challenges of chaos, complexity, and unpredictability prior to the dawn of ubiquitous data. They know when, where, and how technology can be applied to make a difference. They also know when technology won’t change the battle, because something fundamental is off or the impact is negligible.

As the Internet of Things and big data become ubiquitous, many businesses will adopt technology based on flashy promises or too-good-to-be-true prices, but these solutions may be the technological equivalent of back alley arms dealers. First and foremost, businesses must consider the problems they are trying to solve, and the best strategies they can use to solve them. Technology only comes into play after a good strategy has been selected. It’s not the strategy itself.

Companies need to understand the value of domain experts and rely on them when they are developing their strategies. If they don’t, they run the risk of throwing technology at a problem only to get zero results.

But if they do take good advice and think out their Industrial Internet strategies well, then the future will look very promising

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