Answer, it’s both.
Manufacturing is plowing full-speed ahead into the siren-like song of the Industrial Internet of Things (
Accenture published a report on IIoT and
The IIoT space shows a tremendous amount of promise. As a consultant I have personally implemented Human Machine Interfaces (HMI) back in the dawn of IIoT, long before it was known by the acronym. I experienced first-hand the difficulty of integrating factory equipment built in the 60s and 70s with modern computer systems. Even then the rudimentary information being feed into the client ERP was a game changer. Production runs could be more carefully planned and managed. The captured data could then be used in predictive analytical models that influenced materials purchase.
At another client I worked on their implementation of RFID and its integration into the enterprise ERP. The captured data provided an unknown level of transparency into their logistical operations. Just-In-Time (JIT) shipments were now possible with tracking enabled on individual units not just at the pallet-level.
Of course every innovation has a downside. We have seen in the news concerns over nation-states hacking or compromising the electric grid partially caused by SCADA systems that were never intended to be networked and accessable to the Internet. Home Assistants sharing private data with unauthorized users. Or implanted medical devices with critical security flaws. These all speak of flawed IoT or SCADA devices whose vulnerabilities have not been managed.
This is a serious concern in the healthcare space. Unsecured or flawed medical devices are in danger of being compromised. There are dozens of articles online that cover insulin pumps being hacked or huge corporate mergers put in jeopardy due to vulnerabilities in key medical device product lines.
To address healthcare provider concerns in this space, I wrote a book about Medical Devices, their inherent vulnerabilities and how to mitigate the risks. It was created in collaboration with Dr. Peter Polack and approaches the cybersecurity subject from a hopefully conversational tone. One that will not overwhelm medical professionals with a lot of jargon and technical details.
With manufacturing investment on the rise and executives tentatively exploring the potential of IIoT, the idea of the appropriate risk management controls must be effectively communicated. Yes, it is a productivity and cost-reduction boon to integrate your industrial controls, automation, ERP and Analytics together. However, how do you secure that platform? How do you ensure the data is correct? That it hasn’t been tampered with or that your competitor or malicious individual cannot access your critical Intellectual Property?
These questions need to have an answer or at least be asked while industrial automation takes increasingly quicker steps toward IIoT implementation. Your IP stolen through a wireless fish tank thermometer would quickly reduce the benefit of your newly implemented automation.
Please let me hear your thoughts in the comments below.