I had the pleasure today to hear Richard Soley, Chairman and CEO at Object Management Group, talk at the Interop Internet of Things Summit in New York. It is Richard’s contention that the Internet of Things is fundamentally the joining of the Internet Revolution with the Industrial Revolution. While that may sound like a giant leap forward, the reality is very different and most major industries still operate in ways very similar to the pre-Internet days.
According to Richard, people, engineers included, are fundamentally stuck in a way of thinking that predates the Internet. Regardless of how much the world has changed, an astonishing number of things from healthcare to aviation mechanics are still done precisely the way they were before the Internet arrived as a commercially available service twenty years ago. There’s an acute lack of what he calls, “Internet thinking.”
“No, the Internet didn’t change everything”
The facts on the ground don’t support the popular contention that the Internet changed everything. Instead, we’re at the very early stages of a wave of industrialization/internetization that is beginning to gather steam but only slowly. “It’s amazing how inefficient our transportation systems are today,” Richard contends, citing the figure of 32% as the amount of food that spoils each day while traveling the average of 1500 miles to reach stores across the United States. This is the exact reason things are about to change. Our industrial infrastructure, born long before the days of interconnectivity, has enormous opportunities for disruption that are unlikely to be held back much further by a lack of Internet thinking.
Richard’s Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) is busy working to ease the transition from the pre-Internet industrial revolution to the post-Internet world. Their mission is as follows:
- Utilize existing and create new industry use cases and test beds for real-world applications;
- Deliver best practices, reference architectures, case studies, and standards requirements to ease deployment of connected technologies;
- Influence the global development standards process for internet and industrial systems;
- Facilitate open forums to share and exchange real-world ideas, practices, lessons, and insights;
- Build confidence around new and innovative approaches to security.
As you can imagine, each of these areas is critical to successful conversion of industry to new ways of doing business. Without groups like IIC, change comes slowly and is dominated by bigger players rather than bigger ideas. As I like to say, the headlines are full of the flash, but the substance happens behind the scenes, where work like IIC’s is being done every day.