At GE’s annual Minds and Machines conference last week, the company launched a new book, Industrial Internet of Things for Developers, that explains much of what needs to be understood by those interested in and tasked with developing applications for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Foremost among these is that if you are going to create applications for the IIoT, the development process must change.
Sensor laden industrial equipment is often in distant or difficult to reach places, and creating apps to better monitor and analyze how the equipment is performing could lead to digital transformation on a large scale. As the book points out, the IIoT market is larger than the consumer IoT market; the IIoT market could reach $225 billion by 2020.
There’s tremendous possibility here. But how do companies design applications that can capitalize on the potential of the IIoT?
With the IIoT, the application stack encompasses a range of capabilities that includes both systems at the edge and systems in the cloud. A new approach is needed to support application development for this landscape.
At the conference, GE CEO John Flannery spoke about the higher level motivation and why his mainly CEO audience needed to care about the topic. He had a particularly insightful quote about the future: “Every employee will have a basic understanding of coding. Every job will involve software skills.” The opportunity is so vast, and the people with deep knowledge of manufacturing are retiring so rapidly, that everyone’s help will be needed in developing IIoT applications.
Flannery asserted the discipline known as operational technology (OT), which is the way systems are run in environments with real world applications, like in the oil and gas and maritime industries, is going to have to integrate with information technology (IT), which is corporate-wide management of information created by the enterprise. IIoT apps are going to have to merge OT and IT in order to succeed.