The concept of the Internet of Things has been making plenty of headlines lately, but this one is huge: Cisco, IBM, GE and AT&T have launched the Industrial Internet Consortium, an open membership group that aims to break down technology silo barriers and drive better big data access with improved integration between digital and physical worlds.
The IIC plans to lead the charge in establishing interoperability across various industrial environments for a more connected world. The idea is to help organizations connect and optimize assets, operations and data more easily and with more agility. The expected result is unlocked business value across all sectors and greater adoption of industrial Internet applications, which is a baseline factor for speeding up the reality of the Internet of Things.
"Ninety-nine percent of everything is still unconnected," said Guido Jouret, vice president of Internet of Things Business Group for Cisco. "As the world looks to connect more things over the Internet, it is creating the next industrial revolution. Cisco is collaborating with industry-leading companies to break through the barriers of connecting things in industrial environments safely and securely, and paving the way for the Internet of Things."
More the Merrier
Part of the consortium's goal is to deliver best practices, reference architectures, case studies and standards requirements to ease deployment of connected technologies. The group also plans to influence the global standards development process for Internet and industrial systems, facilitate open forums to share practical insights, and build confidence around security innovations.
"IBM's vision of a smarter planet is being realized as we connect more of the physical world with the Internet, pairing the Internet of Things with advances in analytics, mobile and cloud computing in ways that lead to new insights and efficiencies that can be harnessed for competitive advantage," said Ron Ambrosio, distinguished engineer and CTO, Smarter Energy Research at IBM. "Smarter cities, utility grids, buildings and machines are becoming more instrumented, interconnected and intelligent, and through this consortium we will accelerate both innovation and technology advancement."
Any group with interest in accelerating the Industrial Internet can join the consortium. Members will raise visibility of their projects and play a role in developing relationships with technology, manufacturing, academia and the government on working committees. Object Management Group, a nonprofit trade association in Boston, is managing the consortium.
We caught up with Zeus Kerravala, a principal analyst at ZK Research, to get his take on the new consortium. He told us Cisco has been working to bring standardization to the Internet of Things, and this initiative can help.
"You could almost say that the Internet of Things has been growing at a grassroots level. A lot of the technologies used to connect things today are proprietary," Kerravala said. "Almost every vendor that manufactures technology connects over some sort of proprietary connectivity method."
He said Cisco was moving to gather enough large industry players to collaboratively decide on standards that make connectivity easier. He explained there are two keys to the Internet of Things where standards could streamline adoption: connecting the unconnected and analytics.
"Proprietary standards won't work. If you can't connect something then it is not part of the larger Internet of Things," Kerravala said. "Even if it is connected, if the standards are proprietary -- which means the formats for the data are all different -- that makes the analytics difficult. This consortium can first standardize connectivity in the way data is collected."