The best industrial IoT solutions will be built with three distinct building blocks – starting with sensors, then edge gateways, and finally the cloud – according to a leading digital business consultant.

Dr John Burgin, Cognizant’s head of digital business for the APAC and Middle East regions, said: “We view the implementation of IoT solutions as a process of three steps.

“Firstly, there’s the basic tier of physical instrumentation via sensors and devices.

“Secondly, the implementation of an edge gateway, which includes communication protocol translation support and an analysis of the devices and data.

“And lastly, the utilisation of cloud-based data storage and complex big data analytics that are integrated with enterprise back-end systems.”

Burgin told IoT Hub that business transformation initiatives will only be successful if these IoT building blocks are used, and emphasised the importance of ensuring the data generates meaningful outcomes.

“Without an equal emphasis on actionable insight, the three tiers become redundant, as the overall IoT solution will not be positioned to successfully deliver value to the business.”

Burgin also said that companies in Australia need to act quickly to adopt IoT practices, as their competitors – particularly overseas - are already doing so.

“The risk of complacency is high, and steady implementation is key,” he noted.

“For example, retailers who haven’t embraced contactless payments are losing those customers that don’t often carry cash.

“The speed of change in the sector means that current technology will soon be obsolete as new services and updates are released, including IoT-based services.”

Move beyond simple use cases and experimentation

Burgin urges companies to look beyond simply connecting a few devices to the internet, and to focus on the impact these technologies can have on business strategy and culture.

He said that successful IIoT adoption in Australia is predicated on the implementation of an aligned business strategy, supported by the highest levels of management.

“IoT must be considered as a technology collective, created from an internal partnership from all areas of the business as well as an external partnership between the organisation and its stakeholders,” he explained.

“In order to overcome any issues, businesses need to use their partnerships to craft end-to-end solutions to guarantee success.

“This need for collaboration across departments and businesses is the biggest barrier to more widespread adoption of IoT technologies in Australia and globally.”

Burgin also stressed that Australian businesses have to progress past the experimentation phase of IoT and move towards business transformation, ensuring that underlying business problems remain in focus, rather than searching for a use for the IoT technology their experimenting with.

“Businesses need to be fully aware of how the Internet of Things amplifies value throughout its lifecycle, and think strategically to ensure they use IoT to its fullest potential at every stage in the customer lifecycle,” he said.

“Local companies also need to understand that the Internet of Things is a massive ‘system of systems’ and that its implementation is an extensive process requiring an enormous time commitment.

“It is crucial that infrastructure is prioritised to make sure that IoT scaling is successful.”