How to succeed in IIoT deployments | Exclusive Q&A with Jon Hill of InVMA

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InVMA started working in the industrial IoT (IIoT) space in 2012, and today builds software and hardware that link connected things to a company’s systems and processes. InVMA says that it aims to do three things for its clients: create new revenue streams; enhance customer satisfaction; and improve operational efficiency.

Internet of Business spoke to Jon Hill, the company’s business development director, about why some IoT projects succeed and others fail, about monetising deployments, and about whether the IoT could lead to job losses in manufacturing.

Internet of Business: In your line of work you must see a lot of good ideas that need strategic help to succeed. In your view, what are the three main reasons that some IoT projects fail – and what can organisations do to make sure that doesn’t happen?

Jon Hill, InVMA

Jon Hill: “One: they focus on the ‘how’, and not the ‘why’. Before any IoT project begins there are key questions that should be – but often aren’t – asked. Such as, what is the problem we are trying to solve? How does this help our customers or help us service our customers better? Where is the value?

“Most people do a proof of concept to test the technology, but very few do a proof of value to test the business model.

“Two: they try a DIY project and can’t scale it. It’s amazing how many people think that IoT is just another application development. Wrong. It’s the bringing together of IT and operational technology (OT). Hardware, firmware, communications, certifications, security, rules, data, and then the application.

“We have been building IoT applications for six years now on the most complete platform on the market, ThingWorx, and we are still learning.

If your team is launching a DIY IoT project, especially if they are not using a recognised platform, then you are just spending money to solve problems that have already been solved and to create a solution that may not scale. Focus on what makes you different rather than becoming an expert in IoT.

“Three: they target a low launch cost. Working to a budget is sensible, but skimping and trying to save a few dollars per device at launch really isn’t. Cheap devices are unlikely to give you much room for adding features later and can often lead to technical challenges.

“If you can, use tried, tested, and ‘off the shelf’ equipment and an IoT platform in your first iteration, with plenty of headroom to add new features. This will give you the flexibility to pivot your product and provide your customers with an upgrade path in the future.”

Monetising the IoT

One of the key areas of IoT failure is being unable to monetise a project successfully. Why do you think this is?

“There are two mains reasons for that failure. The first is that they haven’t looked at the customer’s value. Often the focus is on what it means to their business and not to their customer.

“Or they focus on the technology and don’t think about, or even understand, that this new approach will mean that they need to change their service teams, their partner relationships, and so on. This means that the promise of the service does not match the outcome from the service.

“The second reason is usually to do with pricing and a lack of understanding of how to price for the IoT project. The costs associated with an IoT deployment are normally capex for the hardware and opex for the communications, hosting, and an application enablement platform.

“So, should the pricing include all of the costs in a simple capex model, where the customer pays up front for a set period? Or should it be a service-type opex contract, which requires financing – and potentially new billing engines? Not considering and testing this prior to launch is where most companies and projects fail.”

The IoT is creating huge changes in manufacturing, as companies realise the value of harnessing data and using it to improve processes. Does this inevitably mean job losses in the sector?

“The recent OECD report said that there is a significant risk to manufacturing jobs from automation, of which IoT forms a part.

I agree with the assessment that some jobs will be lost to automation. However, successful IoT projects will make companies more successful – and, hopefully, able to employ more people in other roles.”

“They will also realise improvements in the form of reduced energy and material usage, further increasing their competitive positions.

“And as with any technology development, other jobs will be created too. For example, companies like InVMA did not exist 10 years ago. The speed of change that the addition of Industrial IoT, additive manufacturing, and similar innovations brings will see new employment opportunities being created.”

InVMA are among the companies that offer an end-to-end IoT service. What particular benefits does this give organisations that want to explore IoT programmes?

“Any full-service offering enables companies to lower the risk of innovation and prove the value from applying the technology without the need to invest heavily.

“The main advantages are: direction – access to experienced advice from, in our case, ex-Big-Four consultants about the business models that work and the potential impact on a company, its market, people, and processes.

“Quality – using proven technology and platforms enables a company to innovate on what a customer finds important, knowing that the hygiene factors of security, scalability, and ongoing development are being provided as standard.

“Cost – using proven approaches and lessons learned from other implementations reduces the risk and cost of the deployment for customers. And finally, speed – avoiding re-inventing the wheel and the IoT platform reduces the time to market.”

Internet of Business says

Putting IoT and IIoT programmes under the general heading of ‘automation’ is an interesting argument, especially when it comes to jobs.

In the manufacturing sector, the metric appears to be 2.5 new, skilled jobs created within organisations for every 10 routine jobs automated (approximately). For example, the US automative sector acquired 60,000 robots in 2015-16. If each robot is capable of doing the jobs of 15 full-time workers – as some robotics companies claim – then that is the equivalent of automating 900,000 jobs. However, during that timescale the industry created 230,000 new roles.

Likewise, Amazon has probably automated faster than any company on the planet, and yet has created roughly 100,000 new human jobs in recent years as the company expands and tries new markets.

And of course, this does not include the many new companies that will appear and create new human employment opportunities as the IoT grows – as has happened with ecommerce and mobile applications. This is why some automation reports have suggested that the long-term employment impact will be neutral.

Read more: South Korea most automated nation on earth, says report. The UK? Going nowhere

Read more: Hitachi Vantara: Bridge the IT/OT divide for IIoT success

Read more: IIoT security: How to secure the ‘Internet of Threats’, by IBM

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Opinion: Why emerging markets should choose GSM LPWAN for IIoT projects

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OPINION Neil Hamilton, VP of Business Development at Thingstream, explains why businesses in emerging markets should choose GSM-based LPWAN connectivity to realise the full potential of IIoT projects.

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An occasional series of vendor perspectives on the world of connected business – because it’s all about making new connections and starting new conversations.

The rapid adoption of consumer and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications in developed markets, powered by the cloud, has already changed the way in which services are consumed, and their potential is vast. However, the potential for the IIoT in developing markets is also enormous; IDC predicts that projects in Africa and the Middle East alone will grow to a market valuation of $ 7 billion in 2018.

However, fragmented connectivity and infrastructures in these regions are still significant barriers to deploying effective, widespread IIoT systems.

The challenge in emerging markets

Current low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs) struggle to provide full coverage outside of major cities and towns even in developed nations, so overcoming fragmented rural connectivity in emerging markets is far from easy.

While cellular data connectivity in most developing markets remains limited, it is still more prevalent than other LPWANs offered by unlicensed providers; these still need to connect to a cellular network to communicate with the IoT ecosystem.

This is why businesses need a cost-effective, reliable, secure, and low-power option that provides ubiquitous connectivity, using the existing infrastructure.

There are many industries in these markets in which cellular or unlicensed technologies severely restrict the deployment of IIoT applications, largely due to a lack of roaming coverage.

For example, an organisation that wishes to track its assets across borders in rural areas will be unable to have full visibility of goods whenever connections are lost. Similarly, for fixed-location services where there is a lack of coverage, regularly sending data to the cloud isn’t always possible. And when a network is available, cellular roaming charges can be prohibitively expensive.

GSM-based low-power connectivity

The most ubiquitous network is the established GSM voice network, which is now available in more than 190 countries and is increasingly reliable, especially when compared with cellular data.

IoT devices can automatically connect wherever GSM connectivity is present, using the strongest network available. This avoids disruption when moving between carriers on a cellular signal, ensuring worldwide connectivity. So it makes sense to leverage this network, as other internet-based options are unable to compete in terms of cost, reliability, and coverage.

One solution is low-bandwidth messaging, achieved through a Message Queue Telemetry Transport for Sensor Networks (MQTT-SN) system. Communicating across a USSD messaging protocol that’s available on the GSM voice network, this lightweight publish/subscribe protocol can send tiny packets of data –160 bytes or less – providing true ubiquitous IoT connectivity.

This is boosted by the inclusion of integrated Quality of Service (QoS), allowing an MQTT-SN protocol to handle the transmission and re-transmission of messages, guaranteeing delivery to the corresponding ‘thing’ or application. The level of QoS is fully customisable for IoT adopters, depending on network security and application logic.

Furthermore, IoT sensors can be programmed to communicate almost any type of information that can be carried across a low-bandwidth signal, avoiding the need to have multiple devices that further clog the network.

The power issue is also circumnavigated, thanks to the way in which the devices can work. By sending data only when needed, a device’s on/off setup enables battery longevity to be maximised, not only for months, but for years, creating a true LPWAN.

This is also advantageous in emerging markets with unreliable power grids, where outages are more commonplace. Instead of sending data at regular intervals, data can be delivered when parameters have changed. For example, this would allow for remote condition monitoring of equipment, allowing for maintenance to be better planned for and more predictable.

Furthermore, data is not communicated using the internet, greatly improving cyber security by having no need to use IP addresses between devices and the connectivity platform, helping to keep connectivity levels high and costs low.

For devices that are remotely connected via the internet, the issue of securely bridging the ‘air gap’ between operational technology and IT systems continues to prove a major challenge for the safe transfer of data, which again favours GSM connectivity.

Choosing the right connectivity for emerging markets

The emergence of LPWANs, such as a GSM voice-based network, has forced businesses in emerging markets to change how they approach IoT deployments. This is because they need to think about what data is actually required from devices and how often that data is needed.

If this can be included in 160 bytes or less, why pay for an energy-sapping internet connection that is costly to implement and run, while also being visible to potential hackers?

An alternative, GSM voice-based network is the strongest and most reliable option that offers true global connectivity for IoT devices to communicate in emerging markets. Using a network with an already-established infrastructure offers huge advantages in scalability, connectivity, security, and cost.

Choosing such a network can enhance efficiencies in a variety of sectors, such as agriculture, logistics, and utilities, all of which are economically crucial in emerging markets. This type of connectivity will enable IIoT projects to be quickly accelerated in developing countries, helping to create a truly global supply chain.

Internet of Business says: This opinion piece has been provided by Thingstream, and not by our independent editorial team.

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FogHorn Systems follows up Google IIoT collaboration with Wind River partnership

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A new collaboration between FogHorn Systems and Intel-owned Wind River will see the integration of FogHorn’s Lightning edge analytics and ML platform with Wind River’s software products to advance IIoT.

As part of the collaboration, announced a week after a partnership with Google, both parties have agreed to combine the FogHorn platform with Wind River software including Wind River Helix Device Cloud, Wind River Titanium Control, and Wind River Linux to speed up the competitive imperative industrial organisations encounter to harness the power of their IIoT data.

The combined solution was on display at Embedded World 2018, in Nuremberg, Germany, from 27 February to 1 March. 

While FogHorn allows organisations to position data analytics and ML as near as possible to the data source, Wind River offers the technology to support manageability of edge devices throughout their life span, virtualisation for workload consolidation and software portability through containerisation.

The Foghorn platform is claimed to be the planet’s most advanced, compact and feature-rich edge intelligence solution capable of offering superior low latency for onsite data processing, real-time analytics, ML and AI capabilities.

Commenting on the team up, Wind River CPO Michael Krutz said: "Wind River's collaboration with FogHorn will solve two big challenges in Industrial IoT today, getting analytics and machine learning close to the devices generating the data, and managing thousands to hundreds of thousands of endpoints across their product lifecycle. We’re very excited about this integrated solution, and the significant value it will deliver to our joint customers globally."

FogHorn’s partnership with Google Cloud aims to provide business impact expansion of IIoT via the integration of Cloud IoT Core capabilities with its Lightning edge intelligence and ML platform.

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FogHorn Systems and Google Cloud team up to offer IIoT solution

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FogHorn Systems and Google Cloud have come together to expand business impact of Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications by combining the capabilities of Cloud IoT Core and FogHorn’s Lightning edge intelligence and ML platform.

This integration leads to the creation of a model foundation for optimising distributed assets and processes in several industries including manufacturing, O&G, mining, connected cars, smart building and smart cities. The partnership also aims to ease the deployment of IIoT applications.

The combined solution will be available at Google Cloud Next, from July 24 to 27, in San Francisco.

Antony Passemard, head of IoT product management at Google Cloud, said: “Cloud IoT Core simply and securely brings the power of Google Cloud’s world-class data infrastructure capabilities to the IIoT market. By combining industry-leading edge intelligence from FogHorn, we’ve created a fully-integrated edge and cloud solution that maximizes the insights gained from every IoT device. We think it’s a very powerful combination at exactly the right time.”

The FogHorn Lightning platform is a compact, advanced and feature-rich edge intelligence solution that can deliver low latency for onsite data processing, real-time analytics, ML and AI capabilities.

David King, CEO at FogHorn, said: “Our integration with Google Cloud harmonises the workload and creates new efficiencies from the edge to the cloud across a range of dimensions. This approach simplifies the rollout of innovative, outcome-based IIoT initiatives to improve organizations’ competitive edge globally, and we are thrilled to bring this collaboration to market with Google Cloud.”

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Cyber security company serving IIoT clients grabs $18M Series B

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CyberX, an IIoT and industrial control system (ICS) security company raised a $ 18M Series B round led by Norwest Venture Partners, early investors in cybersecurity leaders FireEye and Fireglass (acquired by Symantec). Existing investors that participated in the round include Glilot Capital Partners, Flint Capital, ff Venture Capital, and OurCrowd.

To date, CyberX raised a total of $ 30M in venture funding. The company plans to use the proceeds to expand in the United States and Europe, product development, and to grow security research and threat intelligence teams.

CyberX’s continuous ICS threat monitoring platform uses ICS-specific self-learning that enables it to map and predict information security threats (in operational technology) in less than an hour.

A key factor that differentiates CyberX is it does not rely on rules, specialized skills, or any prior knowledge of a user’s environment.

The company’s target market includes companies from energy, oil & gas, and manufacturing. The customers can protect their operational technology from attackers performing cyber reconnaissance to sniff passwords and crucial network credentials.

CyberX Sanbox

It appears that cyber incidents like WannaCry and NotPetya have made executives from legacy industries like manufacturing and oil & gas nervous. There are reasons for the worry.The latest research by CyberX, based on analyzing 375 industrial control networks via Network Traffic Analysis (NTA), reveals that every one out of three industrial sites is connected to the public internet making it vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The company also found that un-patchable Windows operating system is found everywhere in the industrial settings. It reported such systems can be easily compromised by malware such as WannaCry/NotPetya.

“As a top-tier global VC, NVP’s investment in CyberX is recognition that we are successfully delivering differentiated technology and expertise enabling us to win over the world’s most sophisticated and demanding customers.” Omer Schneider, CyberX co-founder and CEO.

Pointing towards CyberX’s technology, Dror Nahumi, general partner at Norwest Venture Partners dais that “there is a growing need in many enterprises to connect their IIoT and ICS networks to corporate IT networks for performance, monitoring, and manageability reasons. This trend creates a new security risk which requires a modern, IIoT-optimized, security solution”.


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Hitachi Vantara: Bridge the IT/OT divide for IIoT success

Hitachi Vantana: Bridging the IT/OT divide for IIoT success

In a contributed article for Internet of Business, Donna Prlich, chief product officer for Pentaho software at Hitachi Vantara, argues that manufacturing companies must mix IT and OT data to achieve new levels of insight and efficiency. 

Until recently, many manufacturers may have wondered whether the post-industrial world would leave any reason (or deliver sufficient profit) for them to exist. Today, technology changes ushered in by the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) are breathing new life and opportunity into the sector.

Hitachi Vantara: Bridging the IT/OT divide for IIoT success
Donna Prlich of Pentaho at Hitachi Vantara

However, the extent to which manufacturers will benefit from IIoT will depend on the maturity of their implementations – and to gain the most valuable and most profitable insights, these implementations will have to tap into data from many different sources and blend it in ways that deliver real insight.

In particular, that means bringing together data from two different types of system that have historically been siloed from each other: Information technology (IT) systems, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and supply chain management (SCM) software; and operational technology (OT) systems, that are charged with the task of monitoring and/or controlling physical equipment in a manufacturing environment.

Read more: HPE and ABB spell out plans for industrial IoT partnership

Mind the gap

There are good reasons for why IT and OT systems have traditionally been kept separate. Manufacturing and industrial facilities use OT systems mainly to ensure availability. Set up as ‘closed-looped’ systems, their data is disconnected from enterprise IT systems.

Industrial environments, where a small change can trigger a domino effect, adopt systematic, methodical approaches to maintenance.

IT systems, on the other hand, which undergo regular maintenance and upgrades, can afford occasional downtime. After all, they aren’t engineered to handle high-voltage systems or the control rods of a nuclear plant.

Nevertheless, the convergence of IT and OT systems and data is already starting to happen. OT is evolving to work with proven IT technologies, such as security software. By the same token, IT systems are scaling to handle the huge data volumes generated by factory OT systems.

Edge computing – the trend that see data processing and analytics move closer to the machines that generate that data – plays an important role here, as do real-time streaming technologies such as Apache Spark and Apache Kafka, which are enabling companies that adopt IIoT to react more quickly to changes.

Read more: IIoT adoption increases, but projects still early-stage, says Bsquare

The STIWA Group builds bridges

The STIWA Group has a long history in product and high-performance manufacturing automation. Its machines are highly automated, requiring little human intervention to run. The company also provides data about its machines to customers using them and builds the software they need to analyse it – and is using analytics software from Pentaho to automatically process signals and data as a basis for its own product, AMS Analysis-CI.

The processed data includes machine, production and quality data collected by another STIWA product, AMS ZPoint-CI. In other words, this is an example of OT data being explored via a typical IT approach.

This helps the STIWA Group handle tracking for safety-critical products and gain control of complex assembly and manufacturing processes. 

Read more: Survey shows IIoT has “crossed the chasm”, claims Zebra

A leap of faith needed?

The most common mistake people make when implementing any new technology is solving problems in isolation. This is especially problematic with IIOT, where success depends on big-picture thinking.

Take, for example, a steel factory that wants to improve efficiency by tackling a specific issue that occurs daily: a technician typically looks at the slice of OT data directly relevant to that failure. This could by, say, 20 variables from a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system.

If, however, the OT data was blended with data produced by environmental control and factory planning systems, that technician might not only solve that specific failure but also be able to prevent future ones from happening. This integration also reveals relationships between components that help to significantly improve overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

In this case, bridging the divide may have involved a leap of faith, but it’s one that has allowed the company to arrive at valuable new insights.

Read more: Only 1.5 percent of execs say their organisation has a clear IIoT vision

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Five key IIoT predictions for 2018: Collaboration, customer success, edge computing, and more

The global industrial IoT market is set to reach $ 933 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research. Here, Sastry Malladi, CTO of FogHorn Systems, outlines what he think will happen in the space in 2018.

Momentum for edge analytics and edge intelligence in the IIoT will accelerate in 2018

Almost every notable hardware vendor has a ruggedized line of products promoting edge processing. This indicates that the market is prime for Industrial IoT (IIoT) adoption. With technology giants announcing software stacks for the edge, there is little doubt that this momentum will only accelerate during 2018. Furthermore, traditional industries, like manufacturing, that have been struggling to showcase differentiated products, will now embrace edge analytics to drive new revenue streams and/or significant yield improvements for their customers.

Additionally, any industry with assets being digitized and making the leap toward connecting or instrumenting brownfield environments is well positioned to leverage the value of edge intelligence. Usually, the goal of these initiatives is to have deep business impact. This can be delivered by tapping into previously unknown or unrealized efficiencies and optimizations. Often these surprising insights are uncovered only through analytics and machine learning. Industries with often limited access to bandwidth, such as oil and gas, mining, fleet and other verticals, truly benefit from edge intelligence. What’s more, those that apply edge intelligence are able to benefit from real-time decisions, as well as insights from voluminous streaming sensor data.

Due to the current pain points in the IIoT space and the edge technology availability to address them, we expect to see increased interest in edge analytics/ML from oil andgas, energy, utilities, transportation and other sectors interested in revamping their IIoT value.

Business cases and ROI are critical for IIoT pilots and adoption in 2018

The year 2017 was about exploring IIoT and led to the explosion of proof of concepts and pilot implementations. While this trend will continue into 2018, we expect increased awareness about the business value edge technologies bring to the table. Companies that have been burned by the “Big Data Hype” – where data was collected but little was leveraged – will assess IIoT engagements and deployments for definitive ROI. As edge technologies pick up speed in proving business value, the adoption rate will exponentially rise to meet the demands of ever-increasing IoT applications.

IIoT standards will be driven by customer successes and company partnerships

IIoT is just now getting attention from the major technology players. If anything, 2018 will see more new products coming to market, and there will be more to choose from in terms of standards. The next year or two will see stronger alliances, unlikely partnerships and increased merger and acquisition activity as the large technology companies seek innovation inside and outside their organizations. As for standards, they will be driven by success of customers and patterns of scalable IIoT solutions.

IT and OT teams will collaborate for successful IIoT deployments

IIoT deployments will start forcing closer engagement between IT and operations technology (OT) teams. Line of business leaders will get more serious around investing in digitization, and IT will become the cornerstone required for the success of these initiatives. What was considered a wide gap between the two sectors – IT and OT – will bridge thanks to the recognized collaboration needed to successfully deploy IIoT solutions and initiatives.

And will OT design affect IIoT apps? Yes, definitely. Recent research and field studies suggest that analytics tools are being made more accessible to end users, i.e. domain experts and plant operators. This means that advanced technology is now being made available to field workers, so operational decisions can be driven in real-time at the industrial location.

Edge computing will reduce security vulnerabilities for IIoT assets

While industries do recognize the impact of an IIoT security breach there is surprisingly little implementation of specific solutions. This stems from two emerging trends:

  • Traditional IT security vendors are still repositioning their existing products to address IIoT security concerns
  • A number of new entrants are developing targeted security solutions that are specific to a layer in the stack, or a particular vertical

This creates the expectation that, if and when an event occurs, these two classes of security solutions are sufficient enough. Often IoT deployments are considered greenfield and emerging, so these security breaches still seem very futuristic, even though they are happening now. Consequently, there is little acceleration to deploy security solutions, and most leaders seem to employ a wait-and-watch approach. The good news is major security threats, like WannaCry, Petya/Goldeneye and BadRabbit, do resurface IIoT security concerns during the regular news cycle. However, until security solutions are more targeted, and evoke trust, they may not help move the needle.

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Alchemy IoT launches with $4 million seed funding to ease IIoT via the use of AI

Alchemy IoT has launched with $ 4 million seed funding from Aweida Venture Partners to help make the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) easier via the use of AI.

Clarity, Alchemy IoT’s cloud-based application, is said to provide small- to mid-sized industrial customers with better returns on industrial assets by analysing asset performance through unsupervised machine learning and adopting proactive measures to boost productivity of industrial fleets and machinery.

The cellphone-enabled application introduces a novel "no-code" approach to IoT Asset Intelligence that eases the way how fleet management, plant maintenance and manufacturing performance can be enhanced through the use of AI and unsupervised machine learning. Some of the main features of the application are: monitoring of sensor data; AI-based analytics; and sending notifications and alerts about operational anomalies via web browsers, email or within the application.

Victor Perez, CEO for Alchemy IoT, said: "Our mission is to make AI-powered IoT a 'no-code' proposition, one that any industrial company can quickly start and put to use to gain fast value. Too many of today's IoT solutions require a massive budget and an extraordinary amount of customization to even getting started – we aim to disrupt and change that."

Alongside this, the company announced the introduction of a new industry approach "IoT Asset Intelligence” to address the complication and market fragmentation associated with Big Data, IoT and AI.

Talking about IoT Asset Intelligence, Perez said: "IoT Asset Intelligence combines our best thinking into an actionable framework to plan, implement and gain value from AI-based IoT initiatives – especially for smaller organizations that may lack the resources for expensive consultants and data scientists.”

According to Alchemy IoT, visibility and efficiency via a combination of data-driven processes and a renewed culture around innovation and critical thinking are the primary theme of the IoT Asset Intelligence framework.

Some of the core tenets of IoT Asset Intelligence are: leveraging data intelligence to make meaningful business decisions; working with existing tools to optimise and enhance current processes; identifying processes for the purpose of improvement and align new value streams and setting up top-line goals and ROI opportunities.

The most recent figures released by IDC estimate that there will be 30 billion connected devices throughout the world by 2020.

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An Insider’s 11 Take-Aways from Companies Winning Industrial (IIoT) Cybersecurity

iiot according to ge ventures

As you read through blogs and articles about cybersecurity and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), it’s easy to get so focused on the complexities (and there are many), that you lose sight of the big picture. There is huge opportunity in this space—untapped by the existing IT cybersecurity players.

To state it in the simplest terms, when protecting free consumer accounts like, Gmail or Facebook accounts, the motivation for investing in security is driven by certain objectives—protecting customer trust, avoiding an unpleasant hit to the company’s reputation, etc. These are, of course, real and important concerns. But when an industrial company is trying to protect a $ 10 million turbine, the economics of investing in security become very different—and much more straightforward. There’s a reason why much of current security investments are directed towards the industrial space: it’s an enormously promising market—and one where new innovations can have an enormous impact.

GE Ventures, the venture capital subsidiary of General Electric, is one of the organizations that recognizes the large opportunities (and even greater responsibility) to lower costs and eliminate unplanned downtime for their customers. They have been working closely with industrial companies for decades. The company has also built longstanding trust relationships with customers and helps them take advantage of the industrial Internet and protect them from its inherent risks. They are rising to that challenge—their own Predix architecture, a platform that help to optimize industrial business processes, has an extensive security-in-depth strategy.

iiot and ge ventures

In addition to the security-in-depth strategy on their platform, GE Ventures is always on the lookout for startups that are advancing the industrial cybersecurity art. According to them, there are some very talented ones out there. Of course, IIoT is not an easy market to break into for startups. Industrial networks are different than enterprise IT that makes them a terrible place for moonlighting—having a great product roadmap in traditional IT is not a birthright to succeed in industrial cybersecurity. But there are some commonalities among the most successful and promising startups in this space. Here are a few from GE Ventures’ perspective:

1.) They know their stuff.

There are lots of things That GE look at when evaluating a startup: A team with the right specialties. Differentiated technology. But the most important factor separating companies treading water from those already swimming laps is that they are staffed top-to-bottom by people who “get” industrial applications.
The most successful startups have a kind of institutional knowledge of industrial control systems (ICS)—often gleaned from working in industrial in their previous careers. They’ve learned important lessons (sometimes the hard way): They know the market. They understand its constraints. They understand through experience the attack surface and exposure. And they always, always keep their eye on the ball: the business continuity of the customer.

2.) They take the IIoT Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm.

No matter what they’re working on, successful IIoT startups never lose sight of their customers’ primary objective: this machine cannot fail. Whatever work they’re doing to secure a system, they know that it absolutely cannot slow down or knock out industrial assets. They create a security layer that’s at least as agile, if not more so, than the devices and systems it’s protecting.

3.) They don’t make things harder for the customer.

Successful IIoT startups know that their target customer has been doing things a certain way for years. They know not to make assumptions that these customers have the same in-house capabilities and institutional knowledge that a non-industrial enterprise would—or, when it comes to software, that they even speak the same language. And they don’t assume that the customer will be willing to fill in gaps that are lost in translation. The most promising IIoT startups are ready to deliver IT solutions to industrial, and they’re not afraid to make it clear that that’s where their expertise lies. But they come out of the gate speaking OT.

4.) They make security integrated.

Successful IIoT startups know that treating security as an additional feature or up-sell will never fly. Their customers expect security to be baked into the product and fully integrated into existing industrial process.

5.) They don’t try to eat the whole cake at once.

Enterprise IT security and IIoT cybersecurity are two totally different animals. You can’t just port something from one world into the other. Yet, there are lessons to be learned from the evolution of enterprise security. Among the biggest that successful IIoT startups adhere to: they don’t try to solve the security problem in one fell swoop.

In the enterprise world, we started with one big problem (protecting digital assets and data), and ultimately broke it down into a whole lot of smaller problems: perimeter security, identity/authentication, data loss prevention, compliance, etc. Smart IIoT startups apply the same thinking to IIoT cybersecurity. They’re not looking to “solve” industrial cybersecurity. They’re attacking smaller, discrete problems and developing useful solutions.

6.) They start with the assumption that they will be targeted.

Even the biggest and best digital companies in the world find malicious or unexplained code in their environments—sometimes threats that have been lying dormant for years. Smart IIoT startups expect that their solutions will be subject to the same types of malicious and/or intelligence gathering threats as well. That doesn’t mean they don’t spend a huge amount of time and effort trying to prevent breaches. But they spend just as much time and effort making sure that, if someone does get in, they can isolate that breach and prevent it from infiltrating the rest of the system. And they recognize that the ICS attack surface extends beyond industrial devices and networks themselves, to all parts of the organization and supply chain.

7.) They’re ready to scale.

Successful IIoT startups never forget that for industrial customers, zero downtime is acceptable. They know that it’s not enough to have great tech—they have to be ready to engage that technology on a scale of thousands of deployments, sometimes in multiple countries—sometimes overnight.

8.) They know that security starts well before connecting a single industrial device.

Successful IIoT startups recognize that some of the most dangerous vulnerabilities aren’t just flaws in their code, but weaknesses in their supply chain. They know that any OEM that incorporates subassemblies made by others can potentially introduce tampered firmware into their system by accident. And they’ve learned the lesson from vendors who had excellent technology but saw deals evaporate because the customer realized they were using an untrusted vendor for one component of the supply chain. Solid IIoT startups take steps to secure their products during every step from building to shipping, when it can be most vulnerable to mistakes or malicious actors.

One of the more interesting areas now being explored: public ledgers. A growing number of companies are looking at Blockchain public ledger technologies to help authenticate assets and provide an audit trail with end-to-end chain of custody. (Industry groups are getting involved too—the Trusted IoT Alliance recently announced a new initiative to promote standard ledgers to authenticate IoT devices.) It’s still very early days, but work like this could prove incredibly valuable for ICS, where many categories of non-IT assets (engines, parts, sub-parts) are connecting back to the IT backbone.

9.) They don’t get distracted by buzz words.

The startup space, or at least the media covering it, tends to be overly sensitive to the hype cycle. Whatever the latest hot concept may be (currently, AI and machine learning), companies rush to make sure they can claim to check those boxes. Successful IIoT startups don’t spend their time worrying about the latest flavor of the month. They’re laser-focused on delivering concrete answers to specific industrial problems.

10.) They understand the need to secure data at rest and in motion.

Industrial customers need solutions not just to secure data at the edge—where more data than ever before is being collected and processed—but also to secure data in motion as it travels to the cloud.

Data in motion poses a particularly cumbersome challenge for industrial systems. Some companies in this space are developing solutions to simplify passthrough of encrypted data, eliminating the need to decrypt data at any point in transit, and its associated risks.

11.) They understand the job is never done.

Good cybersecurity startups recognize that they’ll never be “finished” with their solution, and they don’t get too comfortable with their current design. They understand that real-world cybersecurity means ongoing, indefinite iteration.


This isn’t a comprehensive list. But if you’re charting the course of companies developing interesting new solutions in IIoT cybersecurity, it’s a good place to start.

Authors: Michael Dolbec & Abhishek Shukla, Managing Directors of GE Ventures

The post An Insider’s 11 Take-Aways from Companies Winning Industrial (IIoT) Cybersecurity appeared first on ReadWrite.

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IIoT revenue to cross $1 trillion by 2027, projects Navigant Research

A new Navigant Research report has projected that the combined cumulative revenue for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices, software and services throughout the world will cross the $ 1 trillion mark by 2027.

The trend will be driven by an increasing number of enterprises as they start realising the benefits of IIoT leading to lower costs and increased equipment maintenance, the research firm added.

The report, titled “Industrial Internet of Things”, analysed the overall emerging IIoT market and highlighted the key market drivers and technologies as well as the regulatory frameworks. According to the report, in the beginning IIoT solutions can appear to be a little complex to administrators who are not aware about hardware, software, and service choices.

Neil Strother, principal research analyst with Navigant Research, said: “We are starting to see more and more companies across the spectrum adopt IIoT strategies, deploying hardware and software platforms to help lower operational spend, and to serve as a competitive differentiator that can help them sell products and services at lower costs.”

Elsewhere, a Technavio report on smart farming practices using IoT held that the future of agriculture is being shaped by IoT resulting in increased crop yields, real-time plant and filed monitoring and enhanced supply chain management.

According to the report, the global IoT market in smart farming will grow at a CAGR of almost 11% from 2017-2021. The report has highlighted three drivers that are responsible for the growth of the IoT market in smart farming worldwide viz a decline in the rates of sensors; boost in IoT solutions for remote monitoring; and lack of arable land and a swell in population.

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