I had the chance few days ago to meet Richard Soley. He is the Executive Director of the Industrial Internet Consortium, an US-based institution that groups ALL global stakeholders of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT): technology providers and end-users. We met after his talk at the BBS – the Bologna Business School – where he gave a speech about the disruption that the IIoT will bring.
We had a sort of discussion about the reason why, though technologies are available and the world needs them, still the IIoT has not come: it is still largely in front of us. Interestingly, we expressed completely different views. Most probably, we were both right.
At some point in time he said: “Technologies for the IIoT are already available, and are low cost”. So I jumped in. No, IoT technologies are not low-cost. This is the worst message you can give. Sensors, HW platforms are low-cost. Few dollars per node. But the cost of customisation is the competence of IoT and technology experts, which is immensely larger than the cost of hardware. Every use case requires customisation. Customisation costs (luckily! That’s what we, technology esperts, live with!). At the end, any solution has a cost which is incommensurabily larger than that of pure hardware.
He said: “You are right. But even with your effort and costs, what you will provide as an IIoT solution is disruptive for many companies. Whatever the cost of your development, the competitivity level they will achieve is immense. Nevertheless, still only few of them are ready for such CHANGE in their business. It is a matter of mindset.”
Change is the difficult thing. He is right. The day companies will be ready for the change, we, technology providers, will be ready, because solutions are already available today. And the cost the companies will have to pay, to support OUR effort, the customisation, will be ridiculous with respect to what they will earn out of the innovation introduced through the IIoT.
Richard, you are right. Well, we both were right.