Much is written about the Industrial Internet of Things, but is anyone really doing anything with it?

Well, yes, it is real and solving business problems for manufacturers. But too few are taking advantage of leveraging the technology for achieving business benefit. I have been in sessions with managers and engineers seeking a plan of implementation.

So last week I welcomed in the New Year with a conversation with Maciej (Mah-chek) Kranz, author of “Building the Internet of Things: Implement New Business Models, Disrupt Competitors, Transform Your Industry.”

Kranz, Vice President of the Corporate Strategic Innovation Group at Cisco Systems, leads the team focused on incubating new businesses, accelerating internal innovation, and driving co—innovation with customers, partners, and startups. Prior to this he was General Manager of Cisco’s Connected Industries Group, where he drove IoT businesses for key industrial markets.

He told me that he wants people to understand the changes coming due to the IIoT and make the book practical and helpful. He succeeded in that goal. The book contains many examples of Industrial Internet of Things in practice along with practical leadership and implementation advice. While there is some technical discussion, this is not a book for engineering rather it is targeted to line of business leaders, people who solve business problems, and IT leaders as well as engineering leadership.

As I read the book, though, I got the impression that much of what Kranz is calling IIoT was once called “manufacturing IT.” Such is the morphing of terminology.

I have talked with leaders who are trying to build business cases and implement an Industrial Internet of Things strategy. Their experiences merge with Kranz’ observations that the biggest barrier to implementation is cultural. Any of us who are change agents and have tried implementing new technologies and new ways of working can show the scars earned from learning that barrier the hard way.

But the potential benefits are huge. For example, this quote from an executive of Harley Davidson, “What used to take a painfully long time to triage and troubleshoot now can be accomplished in a single morning,” the manager said, “An order of magnitude improvement.”

Kranz is not bashful about proclaiming why you should implement IIoT—“Like it of not, the Internet of Things (IoT) will change your organization unlike anything before. It isn’t just the next big thing. IoT is the future.”

He continues, “The real payoff from IoT comes down to automating existing processes that have a large labor or time component and streamlining the related process in one way or another.”

Here is another quote from the book, “You belong to Generation IoT if you embrace open standards, open collaboration, open communications, and open, flexible business models and you’re willing to assemble a comprehensive partner ecosystem to build and deploy agile, flexible business solutions.”

On the practical side, here are his eight elements of success

  • Start with strategy, planning, and preparation.
  • Secure C-suite sponsorship
  • Build a diverse team
  • Communicate and drive IT/OT convergence
  • Rethink operations from the ground up
  • Design for flexibility
  • Educate and train
  • Revisit repeatedly-it’s not a one-and-done effort

Kranz concludes with words that echo my belief in Lean—that it isn’t a strategy but more of a way of life. He says, “Most importantly, my hope is that IoT will change the way you think about your business, and how you’ll design, plan, develop, and deliver products and services, go to market, and interact with customers.”

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