Recently, I was part of a panel discussion on “industry of the future”. A number of CIOs from manufacturing industry were part of the panel. The topic of discussion was how industries of today will transform in a connected World.

I emphasized on how IOT( Internet of Things) and Industrial IOT will influence the industry of the future:

Sensors everwhere – Each and every device will soon be armoured with sensors sending data in real time. Hence factory floor will be able to adjust to changing situations fast. If a certain point in the assembly line is blocked due to malfunction or slow down, jobs will be scheduled through parallel stations based on sensor data. The end products of the factories of the future will be embedded with sensors, which will ship data back to the factory.  The data will include important information on how the device is functioning; this information will allow manufactures to monitor their products through the lifecycle and send product updates to rectify any issue. I cited the example of Tesla shipping software updates to customers’ cars to address issues.

Manufacturer to Services – A manufacturer will have to transform to a service provider. A manufacturer’s responsibility ended after a product was shipped from the factory. However, in future products will be connected through sensors and the manufacturer will have to form a continuous bond with the customer. Seemingly mundane product such as washing powder packet will have sensor and will send vital data on how it is used to the manufacturer. This will enable manufacturer to improve the product.

Create a platform – The success of manufacturers of the future will depend a lot on whether they can create a platform for collecting data, analysing data and acting on it. To achieve this competitors will have to collaborate to create a platform. Evidence for this is clearly discernible in Germany, a maufacturing pwerhouse, where the Government has created a consortium called Industrie 4.0 to bring the manufacturers together to innovate in this connected World. As we know Google is manufacturing a car with its own software layer, Apple is creating the entertainment system of new cars. As cars will depend more and more on software, the companies who design and develop the software will hold the key of commercial gains. This shift makes Daimler, BMW and Volkswagon worried.

Ability to innovate – Manufactures will need to innovate faster; they are perceived as legacy. They will have to shake up that perception and encourage innovation by removing all barriers. They will have to adopt the culture of silicon valley companies.

To summarise the factories of today will have to change significantly to adapt to the connected World, where sensors are ubiquitous. Some of the transformations needed are orthogonal to their current practices and business model. Those who make this transformation will ride IOT to success.