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Digital-industrial revolution: Ready to run after very slow start, new survey shows

Worker Operating Engraving Machine

The IoT has inspired change in process and pushed innovation forward in a very short amount of time. However, a large percentage of professionals are not utilizing its full potential. In this article by Forbes, find out what piece is missing to launch the digital revolution. 

 

During the past decade, productivity growth has decelerated sharply just as the pace of technological innovation accelerated—both in the U.S. and in other advanced economies. Innovation hype dominated the media, but the vaunted efficiency gains failed to materialize.

Some have argued that the Internet of Things (IoT) innovations offer at most marginal improvements and cannot move the needle on economic growth. Others say that the benefits are real, but are not captured by traditional economic statistics that struggle to keep pace with a rapidly changing world.

An interesting report released by Plutoshift, a company that provides AI-driven performance monitoring solutions for industry, points to the most likely explanation: IoT solutions have so far been implemented at a very slow pace, and have yet to scale across the industry.

Plutoshift’s report, The Challenge of Turning Data into Action, is based on a survey of 500 mid-level manufacturing professionals in various industries – the very people who need to be engaged in deploying and leveraging IoT solutions.

The report’s findings are eye-opening:

  • Almost half of the respondent companies (48%) still rely on manual data inputs in spreadsheets or other formats.

A core advantage of IoT technologies is the ability to harvest data through electronic sensors embedded in industrial hardware, enabling companies to gain insights in real time and to respond more quickly, sometimes automatically. But the survey finds that:

  • Only 44% of respondents said that at least half of their company’s manufacturing process is outfitted with industrial IoT technology, and a mere 11% said at least three-quarters of the process are IoT enabled. Only 40% are collecting data through remote sensors.

In other words, manufacturing companies have made very limited progress in deploying the hardware and software tools that are at the core of the Industrial IoT. It should come as no surprise that:

  • Only 12% of respondent companies are able to automatically act on their data-driven insights.

The report reveals another important problem: when data collection is still relatively limited and carried out largely through manual processes, managers don’t trust the data: of those who do not automatically act on data-driven insights, 37% are held back by their lack of confidence in the accuracy of the data.

If you have been wondering why the Industrial IoT revolution has not yet boosted manufacturing productivity, this report points to the answer: most companies have made only limited progress in deploying IoT technologies. They still rely to a large extent on legacy systems to collect and analyze data. This prevents them from realizing the main benefits of digital-industrial solutions: data-driven insights to run equipment and systems more efficiently, to boost operational speed and efficiency, and to react automatically and predictively to changes in the performance of equipment and in market conditions.

But the report also suggests that the adoption of digital-industrial technologies is set to accelerate. Manufacturers are cognizant of the price they pay for being held back by legacy data systems: two-thirds of respondent companies acknowledged that their lack of state-of-the-art data-driven technologies prevents them from improving their processes, making them slower and more wasteful than they could otherwise be. And more than three-quarters of manufacturing professionals believe that software solutions to analyze data in real time should be the top priority.

We often tend to underestimate how hard it is to adopt transformational technologies. To deploy digital-industrial solutions, companies need to invest in new hardware and software; they need to reorganize internal processes, change managerial and decision-making practices, and help workers familiarize themselves with the new solutions; they need to integrate information technology and operations technology. In these initial stages of the digital industrial revolution, they have to worry about upstream and downstream compatibility with their customers and suppliers.

It’s a tough challenge, and progress starts slowly – but adoption is now set to accelerate; as the report shows, manufacturing professionals are well past the initial skepticism and are very aware of the benefits that digital-industrial solutions can bring. The stakes are high: recent OECD research shows that today companies that do a better job at implementing new technology solutions gain a growing and lasting lead over their competitors. Those companies that successfully adopt digital-industrial solutions now are likely to reap substantial benefits for a long time to come; those that don’t will find it harder and harder to catch up.

 

This article was written by Marco Annunziata from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.