The shift to the industrial Internet is rapidly gathering steam, yet most of the focus has been on making connected products and services for customers. Much less attention has been paid to how and to what degree the industrial Internet will transform companies’ internal operations, as it certainly will.
The changes wrought by the digitization of industrial operations can best be broken down into four key areas: manufacturing, capital asset management, the supply chain, and product innovation and development. Suppliers are already busy developing digital solutions to cover many “use cases” for each of these key areas — the jobs to be done and the resulting value creation opportunities — even as the number of use cases themselves is multiplying quickly.
If companies are to take full advantage of the great promise of the industrial Internet, they must develop an overall strategy for how to go about it, and then gain a full understanding of the ecosystem of solutions emerging around each of the four areas. That will allow them to build the business cases needed to determine the value of each use case they hope to implement, and then to develop the capabilities required and the road map that will get them to their goal.
Companies setting out on this journey must remember that there is no perfect technology solution. Success will require that companies focus not on the technologies themselves, but rather on the operational problem, or problems, they are trying to solve. Most important, they need to start now.