When Rockwell Automation joins hundreds of other business, government, academic and tech leaders next week in London for Cisco’s IoT World Forum 2017, one topic will likely dominate the event - business outcomes from IoT - successes, challenges and lessons learned from the many deployments.
Today, organizations are progressing from pilot or proof-of-concept IoT projects to scalable IoT deployments, according to IDC’s Global IoT Decision Maker Survey. About one-third (31 percent) of those surveyed said they’ve already launched IoT solutions, and another 43 percent said they’re looking to deploy solutions in the next 12 months.
As the IoT shifts from a buzzword to a business priority, many companies are increasingly eager to learn how it’s being used in tangible ways. They also want to know how the latest technologies can help them make the most of the IoT in their own operations.
To this end, here are some of the key topics that we’ll be addressing at the forum to help industrial companies improve the success of their IoT deployments.
Answers Hiding in Analytics
The number of IoT devices in industrial control systems continues to grow at a rapid pace. With this growth in networked devices comes a significant increase in the volume of data that industrial companies must be able to manage and leverage for business outcomes.
Scalable, flexible analytics can contextualize your information and deliver value incrementally in devices, the plant and the enterprise.
We’re learning when it makes the most sense to analyze the data in real-time at the source or store it in the cloud for more long-term examination. Conditioning raw data into contextualized data, preferably at the source, is becoming an increasingly valuable best practice.
I’m seeing more focus now on edge computing from companies and industry groups. Companies realize now that if they store every bit of unstructured data with the hope of finding patterns and business value, they will spend significant resources to clean up and organize the data later. A scalable analytics approach can help you prevent data overload by solving problems that exist at different levels of your enterprise.
Local maintenance analytics, for example, can use device-level data to produce real-time alerts about critical device and machine health. This can help you implement faster decision-making closer to the process, where time is critical.
Machine-level or plant-level analytics implemented in edge devices such as controllers and plant-floor servers can be used to optimize machines, processes and plants. They also can be leveraged to implement predictive-maintenance strategies.
Enterprise-level analytics integrate plant-floor information with business intelligence. This can help you improve your operational productivity or compliance efforts across several sites.
Security Must Be Holistic
The top IoT challenge cited by respondents in the IDC survey is security (26 percent).
It’s not surprising. Security can seem like an overwhelming burden given the challenges you face, from legacy equipment that wasn’t designed for security to more easily accessible information that can be vulnerable to both malicious and non-malicious threats.
In the face of the challenges, taking a holistic approach to industrial security can put your organization in line with best industry practices for protecting intellectual property and other assets.
A holistic security approach begins with conducting a security assessment to identify your risk areas and potential threats. Free security assessment tools can help with this. Upon the completion of your assessment, you should understand your security posture and the specific mitigation techniques needed to bring your operation to an acceptable risk state.
From there, your industrial security program should adopt a defense-in-depth (DiD) security approach. DiD security adheres to the principle that any single point of protection can and probably will be defeated. It uses physical, electronic and procedural safeguards to create multiple layers of protection throughout your enterprise.
Industrial firewalls, for example, should be implemented at the cell/area zone level to help detect, prevent and respond to potentially malicious traffic between devices. However, these should only be one part of a multifaceted security program. Companies today are utilizing reference architectures, an ecosystem of partners and industry best practices to implement secure IoT systems.
Finally, make a point to only work with trusted vendors. Request their security policies and practices, and make sure they help – not hurt – your ability to meet your security goals.
Learn From Our Experience
At Rockwell Automation, we don’t just talk about industrial IoT: In leveraging it, we have brought The Connected Enterprise to life in our facilities, helping to boost our bottom line.
In recent years, we have converged disparate IT and OT systems, and leveraged IoT technologies to create a Connected Enterprise. This has helped us improve our agility and productivity, and achieve faster, smarter decision-making. As a result, we’ve improved control in our processes and implemented a standardized approach across our global facilities.
To learn more about our journey, check out this video. If you’re attending the IoT World Forum, we look forward to seeing you there!