The Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT), as well as conventional IoT deployments, often remain in “pilot purgatory” because they fail to deliver significant business outcomes. Part 1 of this series revealed that to succeed, manufacturers should utilize IoT to reshape key operating  processes and experiences into end-to-end journeys that unlock trapped business value.

As history has shown, when IoT is used to simply automate dysfunctional processes and experiences, it only accelerates customer dead ends or unintended operational outcomes. While sensor data from IoT-connected operations and products has the potential to transform most core processes (from one-off tasks such as equipment maintenance, through full business model change), consuming this data for informed decision making requires substantive integration of this data into processes and critical customer interactions that truly matter.  

To get there, workflows need to be orchestrated in an event-driven environment. By combining intuitive design with effective process automation, manufacturers can ensure they’re on the path to IIoT-fueled business value. Here’s why.

What if you could …

  • Strengthen your culture of innovation by finally delivering the aspirationally connected operations and experiences that the instrumentation of machines, processes and products should have delivered by now.
  • Deliver on the “consumerized” smartphone applications and new business models that your customers, executives and partners expect to be up and running.
  • Rely on your business people and citizen developers to design every process or experience as if from scratch using no-code or low-code tools so that the most critical IoT signals trigger the actions, processes and outcomes you had only hoped were possible.
  • Do all of the above without adding more complexity to your architecture, cost to your operations and strain on your resources. This would mean capturing and acting upon the “signals” and filtering out the “noise” from your connected machines, operations and products, while no longer requiring Nobel Laureates and Silicon Valley rock stars to do so.

Focus on Fundamentals

Delivering these kinds of outcomes with speed and scale is not science fiction – especially when linked to the core of your operations, experiences and primary transformation objectives.

Here’s our five-step proven approach for delivering a faster path to IIoT value.

  1. It all starts with identifying the outcomes that must be delivered to create value for your business and customers.

    • Is the outcome tied to a critical, complex set of business processes or journeys like order management (e.g., perfect order index), quality management (cost of poor quality), digital prescriptive maintenance (eliminate/minimize downtime) or some other critical operational journey with a defined outcome that your business depends upon?
    • Is the outcome tied to redesigning key customer experiences after a product has been produced, sold, installed, used, updated, maintained, repaired or replaced?
    • Is the outcome tied to removing friction from every customer interaction with the brand and ecosystem, with the right next-best actions that maximize customer lifetime value (CLV) and increase the likelihood of customer advocacy, adoption, growth and retention?
  2. Once you’ve identified those critical outcomes, use a customer- and user-centric approach to transform one journey at a time. Think of the countless business benefits that could be accrued if your organization could deliver that journey from start to finish, no matter how many systems, touchpoints, channels, data sources, integrations or business, product or geographic variations are encountered.
  3. For each journey, identify the existing IoT signals that can turn sensor data-triggered insights into specific actions or decisions along these journeys. Look to operational KPIs that can inform this exercise, such as productivity, quality, cost, cycle time, mean time between failure (MTBF), mean time to repair (MTTR), overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and net promoter score (NPS). Another source for relevant KPIs is the recent Gartner study, “The Hierarchy of Manufacturing Metrics: Frequently Asked Questions.”
  4. Ensure your business people, in partnership with their IT partners, can use a no-code, drag-and-drop interface to co-design, connect and co-create each new IoT-triggered journey, one at a time, in days and weeks. As we’ve all seen, business changes that take too long to produce value are deemed failures even if they eventually deliver value. No-code or low-code tools can speed time to value.
  5. Then, rinse, repeat or adapt using the best of PDCA (plan, do, check, act) to continuously improve your outcomes.

The Real Reveal: IoT-Powered Enterprise Processes

Leading global manufacturers like industrial equipment majors, marine and energy equipment conglomerates, automotive OEMs and a range of their industrial peers have followed this approach to turn their operational and product signals into redesigned end-to-end processes, experiences and outcomes at scale.

For example, we’re assisting an industrial manufacturer to close-loop field service maintenance processes with connected products and a contact center. Event-based signals triggered from product performance data (generated by an installed base of more than half a million) is distilled for preventive, predictive and service call maintenance.  The orchestration of a success repair event is dependent on service completion.

This orchestration – all the way to the field service representative’s task scheduling, deployment and integration with the contact center – has led to productivity improvements of over 20%. The next step is to orchestrate updates with fIrmware over the air (FOTA) and software over the air (SOTA) as more advanced software-defined products are launched.

As this example demonstrates, it’s eminently doable for manufacturers to convert existing IoT machine and product signals into business outcomes and enhanced next-best actions that simultaneously improve the operational performance of connected assets and products – and contribute to the realization of IoT-driven business models.

Architecturally, industrial leaders are marrying their existing IoT/IIoT platforms with an automated case management capability that connects and orchestrates equipment sensors, people, process and data to get work done and to make critical decisions – and sometimes both. 

Transcending IoT Disenchantment

Gartner has coined the term “Trough of Disillusionment” when referring to the painful “Hype Cycle” phase in the long journey to mainstream adoption of new technologies. IoT is  no exception. As noted in Part 1 of this series, meeting or exceeding expectations from the business transformation promised by IoT remains a work in progress. Over time, interest tends to wane as experiments and implementations fall short of the promises.

But for manufacturers, getting past disillusionment is much more likely when they pair existing IoT investments with in-flight automation and operational process digitization efforts that leverage the finite capacity and skills of existing IT and business talent. By following an approach like the one we’ve suggested here, existing investments in people and technology can serve as the catalyst to the connected future your organization has committed to – without distracting from other priorities.

Steven Silver

Steven Silver

Steven P. Silver is Vice-President, Global Industry Market Leader for Manufacturing, Automotive & High-Tech at Pegasystems. Steve brings more than 20 years of... Read more

Prasad Satyavolu

Prasad Satyavolu

Prasad Satyavolu is the Chief Digital Officer & Global Head of Innovation for the integrated business group, comprising the manufacturing, logistics, energy... Read more