Industrial IoT (IIoT) is projected to be worth $151bn by 2020, so it's a pretty big deal. As a relatively young industry, the topics being hotly debated now in IIoT are set to shape its entire future. It was my pleasure to be part of the recent IoT Solutions World Congress (IoTSWC) and it's great to see how much the industry has grown in just a year, and also how conversations have developed.
Here's insight into three topics that are shaping the IIoT industry at the moment:
There's a lot of grey areas when it comes to the ethics surrounding data collection and analysis. Though much of the data collected through IoT devices is anonymised metadata, it still begs the question: What do businesses do with it all and who does it actually belong to?
In a panel discussion hosted at the event around the topic of data ethics, David Blaszkowski, Managing Director of the Financial Services Collaborative, noted: "We should think about data ethics as an industry-wide obligation, the IoT industry has the chance from the beginning to do the right thing."
The truth is, more transparency is needed about what data is collected from individuals, and what is then done with it to create smarter products and services. Derek O'Halloran of the World Economic Forum made an interesting suggestion: that each company could actually ethics panel to debate and guide them through their data-related decisions. As O'Halloran noted, ultimately, as with any industry, it's important to consider what's good for society and the individuals, not just for business.
The simple truth is, we can't know the effects of technological developments in the IIoT until they are tested for. If we put the industrial internet to the test, we're able to answer the concerns of business leaders and the public about what the future will really look like and provide real-world examples.
This is why testbeds are increasingly playing a vital role in the industry. Interestingly, Richard Soley, executive director of the Industrial Internet Consortium, talked at length about the success of IIoT testbeds, and we saw some exciting real-world examples in the event's dedicated testbed area, such as: a smart airline baggage management solution developed by GE, Oracle, Infosys and M2MI to reduce baggage losses and damage at the airport, and Telefonica's work with Fiware to make real-time measurements of water quality in fountains.
Frequently cited as a key challenge in the implementation of IIoT, there's a huge question mark over whether enough is being done in the area of cybersecurity. Given the recent DDoS attack that took down Twitter, Netflix and Spotify, caused in part by by IoT devices, the topic remains more hotly debated than ever.
One of the problems is the question of standardisation: what kind of framework needs to be put in place to ensure the security of organisations and of individuals? The problem is that attacks quite easily can go unnoticed in the industrial sector, and as Steve Hanna, senior principal at Infineon Technologies noted, hackers actually see more value in the B2B sphere: "Most attackers don't want to see you at home." It's therefore of critical importance that the IIoT gets this right.