Here Comes the Industrial Internet

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Here Comes the Industrial Internet

By nature, industry is much more pragmatic than individuals because it views every decision through the lens of the bottom line. It has, therefore, been slow to adopt many Internet technologies that deliver benefits related to social connections, simplified purchasing, and information access that don't provide an immediate payback. Of course, companies have leveraged the Internet to connect with customers and sell products, but on the production side, Internet technology has not gained nearly as much traction because it has not offered an unambiguous path to increased productivity. But now, that is poised to change.

That forthcoming change has been called the "Industrial Internet," and it's a subset of the broader "Internet of Things" trend we've explored on previous occasions. It is characterized by its ability to connect intelligent machines, software analytics, and people, thereby enabling the physical world of industry to benefit from digital intelligence in whole new ways.1

The concept of connecting machines on the factory floor so they can collect data and communicate is nothing new. It has been anticipated as part of broader frameworks and described using terms like "kinetic computing," which refers to physical process efficiencies being enhanced by computer-based products.

Whatever the name or vision, the goal is to improve operations through the use of the growing availability of online data, especially that which is coming to be called "Big Data." It is this explosion of data that is finally fueling the full realization of the Industrial Internet. It is the new connections that make up the Industrial Internet that are putting Big Data to work in industry by making it proactive and predictive in real time.

Leveraging this predictive information is turning out to be more than just an upgrade in work-flow. Rather, many see this as the most significant melding of business and technology since the Industrial Revolution.

This flies in the face of those who suggest that the productivity-enhancing potential of Internet technology is running out of steam. The naysayers have argued that the recent innovations, primarily seen in enhanced social media, entertainment, and gaming, are doing little to boost our standard of living through increased productivity and truly new value creation. This view, however, fails to see that although the coming Industrial Internet shares much of the technology of "the Internet we already know," it will not function as some sort of "industrial social network...

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