Who Will Win?

By Dave Wibberley

As with all new cutting edge technology, a lot of hype is being generated by Telecommunication, Technology, and Infrastructure and Consulting firms about IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things). It is a very critical battlefield and it is not surprising that companies are becoming intimidated and the uptake to IIoT is still very limited.

Problem

The problem, in my humble opinion, is that the large-scale benefits will only be realised through large-scale implementations. Consulting firms are expediting their IIoT solutions to the CEO/CFO level at companies with money but the budget is often sitting in the CIO hands. Both top management groups are in the very unfamiliar territory when it comes down to the sensor and data acquisition level. Engineers, however, feel extremely comfortable with the complex and challenging real-time world.

Success

The success of IIoT lies in the reliability, cost and scale at which we can feed the big data, analytics and ERP systems. So, it really needs the two worlds, management and engineering; that traditionally is a bit like mixing oil and water together, to somehow find a way of integrating. In addition, there is the still the challenge of low-cost, high reach, low powered networks and sensors that need to get to the level and reliability needed to really launch the uptake of IIoT.

Solution

In South Africa, we have SquidNET rolling out the SigFox network offering very low-cost of use, low powered units, and high physical penetration but it is extremely limited in sensor messaging. NBIoT (runs on LTE) being driven by Huawei through MTN. Vodacom (which still offers GPRS) is apparently still waiting for ICASA approval but promises larger messaging capability which will most definitely impact the cost. Lora has been discussed but I haven’t heard much about this network recently.

The problem is that every solution demands a very specific choice of network to meet the physical requirement which gives the lowest cost at the greatest reliability.

Abbreviations/ Acronyms

CEO – Chief Executive Officer
CFO – Chief Financial Officer
CIO – Chief Information Officer
ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning
GPRS – General Packet Radio Service
ICASA – Independent Communications Authority of South Africa
IIoT – Industrial Internet of Things
LTE – Long Term Evolution
MTN – Mobile Telephone Network
NBIoT – Narrow Band Internet of Things

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