The need to connect your shop floor with your top floor, and with your supply and demand chains, is not new. Most companies have been trying to do this for decades with varying levels of commitment and success.

I am not alone in my perspective that building a Connected Enterprise is foundational for any value you drive today and in the future.

In Accenture’s CxO survey of about 1,000 companies, they found that from the Internet of Things (IoT):

  • 87% expect long‐term job growth and 57% expect long‐term revenue growth
  • 84% believe they will create new, service‐based income streams using IoT
  • 61% cited digital initiatives as a tool for growth
  • 46% saw improving productivity as the key benefit of IoT
  • But, only 7% have developed a comprehensive strategy.

While some companies are realizing the benefits of being connected, most are not.

We are at an inflection point. The wave of affordable smart connected devices for the industrial market, combined with software and networking technologies that enable devices to communicate with each other, will produce unprecedented capabilities for manufacturing.

So the question remains: as the IoT becomes mainstream, what does this look like in the real world?

A day in the life of a production order

I can illustrate with a simple box of cookies.

Behind that product is a complex and coordinated process that relies on thousands of data points. With The Connected Enterprise, the cookie company’s response to several production complications was much different than it would have been without connectedness.

Let’s start with efficiency. This company secured a new customer and received a huge rush order requiring a customized recipe and packaging.

In the past the company couldn’t take the order – they didn’t have the capacity or visibility to manually configure the equipment.

Today, things are different because of The Connected Enterprise. The company has several connected plants and an unprecedented real‐time view of their operations so they can look across all of their plants and shift orders to maximize capacity.

By being connected, the company can produce more cookies, more quickly than ever.

Now there’s more to the story and this box of cookies. There’s collaboration, and when one of the conveyors breaks down, the company’s unprecedented ability to collaborate saves the day. And of course, visibility, and how the company was able to avoid a costly recall by locating and stopping contaminated cookies before they made it off the delivery trucks.

At its most basic level, The Connected Enterprise is about connecting and enabling the equipment, machinery, sensors, and devices in a manufacturing plant and industrial operations so they can be controlled via intelligent software.

This has been the dream for decades, but the technology to make it possible and collaboration required was expensive and complex. The IoT and other technology innovation changes that.

The information‐enabled Connected Enterprise is a more competitive enterprise. It creates tremendous opportunities for those taking advantage and great risks for those not preparing a strategic response.

Your response can start by assessing your current operation to determine if you need to:

  • Modernize your networking and security and your legacy automation environments
  • Drive more value from your data
  • Optimize your process and /or increase visibility across your enterprise
  • Increase collaboration internally and externally to improve operations and business decisions

I talked about this at the recent Rockwell Automation TechED event. It’s important to understand what you are trying to achieve and how you are taking action within your organization.