One of the key pillars of Industry 4.0 movement is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), along with Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Blockchain, to name a few. IIoT holds a promise of a future that offers seamlessly connected devices and integrated systems that would make industries efficient, optimize overall operations, and support sustainable growth. Recently, Honeywell published a survey stating that a substantial number of medium-to-large companies in the UAE (68%) and Saudi Arabia (66%) believe that IIoT is critical to business operations or will become critical in the next five years.
Considering the wide-spread understanding amongst decision-makers regarding the role IIoT is and will continue to play in the transformation and success of their business, why is the adoption/implementation of IIoT solutions and Digitization Strategy sluggish in the Middle East? As per Honeywell’s survey, only 46% of UAE companies are investing in IIoT. This number is even lower for Saudi Arabia, sitting at 40%.
When assessing tech disruptions, it is tried and tested that early adopters and risk-takers tend to win the bigger share of the market and/or retain and grow their customer base. In addition, they add an element of flexibility into the DNA of their business to continuously evolve with the changing ecosystem. Then why aren’t more companies riding the wave of IIoT? A report published by Bain & Company Middle East reflects that two of the major roadblocks in implementing IIoT solution(s) are concerns regarding security and ease of integration with the existing systems and IT framework.
What can IIoT solution providers do to address these concerns? A shift in mindset and approach is the answer. Majority of solution providers tend to follow the one-glove-fits-all approach. Offering fixed solutions that leave little-to-no room for feature flexibility and additional layers of compatible technologies can result in additional roadblocks. Furthermore, customers too need to educate themselves about the solutions available in the market and have a clear understanding of how much flexibility is required for a solution to seamlessly integrate with their existing operational technologies.
We believe IIoT solutions need to be looked at from a holistic (overall business), customer-centric view. These three key steps need to be reflected upon by any company trying to find the right vendor to strike a synergy:
It is imperative to understand how a business has been laid out and operated so far. It brings to the forefront the unique challenges and needs of the business. In addition, it helps with developing a clear understanding of the type of framework and technical capabilities that an IIoT solution needs to offer in order to enable a smooth integration.
Building a Digitization Strategy
Unfortunately, most businesses do the mistake of kicking off pilots or implementations without having a long-term plan or a digitization strategy in place. As most IIoT projects are resource heavy it is advisable for businesses and solution providers to have a clear plan of execution. IIoT cannot be implemented in isolation, nor is its impact restricted to one area of the business. If IIoT projects are carried out with the right vendor, the immediate impact is visible in asset utilization and operations efficiency.
Moreover, greater impact is seen on human capital, and a complete transformation of overall business operations based on the data that is collected, analyzed and applied back into improving systems and processes. It is not uncommon for businesses with a smartly planned IIoT strategy to have realized new revenue streams and flexible business models.
Solid Framework with Feature Flexibility
All IIoT solutions should offer a solid framework that’s designed to address the common challenges faced by a particular industry, example, an equipment and machinery solution designed to address challenges faced by any business that either owns or leases equipment. Furthermore, the solution should offer the flexibility to add features and functionalities that are customer specific.
However, it should not stop there, a robust IIoT plan allows and accounts for additional technological layers like the implementation of Machine Learning, AI, Blockchain, and more. A good solution provider enables your business to build a sustainable tech ecosystem.
IIoT, if done with the right vendor and a smart strategy in place, can help a business improve efficiency, operations, quality, and even bring unique revenue opportunities.
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