In the rush to keep pace with the rising tide of digital transformation, it’s tempting to jump headfirst into the Industrial Internet of Things without a definitive plan for the end-user experience. But for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) looking to branch out into service offerings, there is one cardinal rule: everything begins with the customer and their needs.

It’s crucial to architect a solution that’s responsive to the needs and pain points of the customer who’ll be using it. Although most industrial organizations are looking to achieve similar outcomes—reduced unplanned downtime, greater visibility across asset portfolios, improved productivity, and streamlined systems integration—there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. An effective IIoT deployment cannot exist in a vacuum—it must conform to the unique characteristics of the customer environment.

Going beyond predictive maintenance

This presents a far broader mandate than simply enabling equipment monitoring or predictive maintenance for a customer. OEMs must consider, for instance, the security implications of what they’re proposing. As an OEM, you’ll want to connect every piece of equipment to the customer’s network. While that might reflect IIoT best practices, it’s also a great way to rattle the customer’s network administrators. Customers need to know that even though their systems are connected to the cloud, with the right industrial solutions, they’re nevertheless protected against malicious attacks and data breaches.       

Another critical consideration for industrial customers is interoperability. An IIoT deployment should integrate natively with existing hardware and software components, and also be future-proofed to work with new systems. But as more and more systems are connected together under a unified IIoT platform, rising complexity becomes a potentially expanding problem. Consequently, it’s crucial for OEMs to create a user-friendly experience that enables even non-technical operators to effectively leverage the technology.    

Partnering for IIoT success

While all these considerations add up to daunting challenges, OEMs don’t need to take this journey alone. GE and its expansive ecosystem of partners, systems integrators, and independent software vendors are there to mediate each step of the process and ensure that OEM IIoT offerings are aligned to the specific needs within their end customers’ environments.  

It’s never easy pivoting to a new business model such as smart connected service offerings, but with a strong community of talented innovators supporting your deployments, and a suite of cutting-edge technology, battle-tested in some of the world’s most challenging industrial environments, the future for OEMs is bright.   

If you’d like to learn more about how you can transform organizational culture in today’s digital age, I recently participated in a GE Digital webcast on this very topic. Click the link below to watch a segment from this webcast.  

Digitizing Heavy Industry

Tools and Strategies to Unlock New Revenue
Heavy industry is in a state of transition. As equipment becomes commoditized, manufacturers are focusing on delivering superior customer support as a point of differentiation. With multifaceted and fast-moving supply chains, OEMs are turning to the Industrial Internet to drive customer satisfaction, control cost, and innovate.

Watch our recap video on the left. Then, tune into the full on demand webcast to explore new digital environments and learn about what it takes—technologically and culturally—to thrive in today’s industrial world.

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About the author

Glen Allmendinger

Founder and President, Harbor Research

Glen Allmendinger is the founder and President of Harbor Research, a strategy consulting and technology research firm based in Boulder, Colorado and Zurich, Switzerland. Glen has been responsible for managing Harbor and all of its consulting and research activities since its inception, has co-authored several pioneering articles on smart systems and services and has spoken at over 100 industry events focused on machine-to-machine (M2M), Smart Systems, and the Internet of Things.


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