The Emerging Opportunity for Monetized Edge Data

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Click to learn more about author Timothy Butler.

Companies are beginning to realize the benefits of adopting Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology. Conceptually, IT leaders understand that connected IIoT devices can encourage business growth and increase competitiveness, but it seems as though there are still major hesitations when it comes to actually adopting and implementing the technology. In order for companies to fully adopt the IIoT, IT leaders need to begin understanding the impact these technologies could have on their organizations’ bottom lines.

The financial benefits of IIoT technology have yet to come to light for many companies – some companies even believe there is huge financial barrier to adopting IIoT technology. However, in order for the IIoT to become a widespread reality, IT departments need to move away from the perception that IIoT devices simply generate data and understand that any asset can be transformed into a data processor – the asset itself can gain the capabilities of a regular computer. Realizing that the IIoT allows edge computing capabilities to be placed on top of objects suddenly opens doors for companies to monetize data in new ways that significantly affect revenue growth.

According to the latest McKinsey Global Survey on data and analytics, there is a clear correlation between the monetization of data and a company’s industry performance. The conversation about whether a company should implement IIoT technology needs to start with the idea that the data these devices produce can positively impact that company’s revenue and contribute to its overall success.

Validating Product Pedigree

Attaching computing powers to assets in industries that mandate tracking and validating of history or authenticity of products is a major benefit. In markets like pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and chemicals, for example, it’s crucial to accurately report and document how products are handled throughout the entire supply chain.

For operators in industries like these, there is a competitive advantage to be gained by offering a bulletproof report on the travel history of products. In an environment where assets are constantly collecting and distributing data close to those who can actually use it, products would arrive at the final destination with a detailed and fully up-to-date digital record of the product’s handling information, usage and quality.

This is a game-changer in the pharmaceutical industry –counterfeit medicines have grown exponentially recently and having the ability to track each step of the product’s lifecycle would virtually eliminate this risk and the prospect of enormous fines. At the same time, companies can curtail revenue loss from ensuing recalls that may be put into place in the event a counterfeit is discovered. The opportunity to increase accuracy and eliminate risk attaches a monetized value to the data that’s being distributed.

 Closing the Skills Gap

Across industries there is a growing skills gap between incoming talent and current employees who already possess the skills required of the job; this has been especially an issue for manufacturing professionals, to the point it’s become a top-of-mind problem for management. However, it is a challenge that can be easily addressed with edge asset management.

Edge asset data allows products and object to take on information – including operating or repair instructions, photos and videos – that gives new employees real-time task direction. If, for example, a new employee needed to work on an unfamiliar task, an asset equipped with maintenance instructions would be able to self-dictate the exact steps an employee would need to take to complete the task.

By the same token, a veteran employee would have the opportunity to embed ‘pro tips’ and loopholes across the organization. This ability to impart expert knowledge unto new hires is both empowering to incumbent staff, while allowing more efficient maintenance processes to take place. However, edge assets should not be seen as a replacement for these expert workers. Rather, the technology should act as an aid and increase the value of the organization.

Finally, edge data is an opportunity for manufacturing companies to increase revenue. Organizations that manufacture assets requiring regular maintenance now have potential to upcharge for products that come pre-loaded with digital maintenance and process instructions, and tips.

Reducing Labor Costs

The ability to create an ecosystem of readable and writable assets that update in real-time can drive massive reductions in labor cost. For example, in the commercial aerospace industry, maintenance technicians no longer need to waste time searching for paper documents where part histories are recorded. By using edge data, airline technicians have the record of history or the compliance status directly attached to the part in question.

Edge asset data also allows airlines to reduce the downtime of airplanes. Crews can check the status of in-cabin parts while an airplane sits at the gate between flights, without needing to inspect individual objects manually. By reducing the time spent on the ground, airlines can increase the profitability of each of their airplanes, which would have a huge effect on an airline’s revenue if it were implemented across an entire fleet. Additionally, digitally recorded history on individual assets gives technicians full visibility into the maintenance status of a particular part, which can increase its usability. Often, assets in aerospace need to be replaced before it is actually necessary because maintenance professionals aren’t able to locate historical documents and safety verifications. Edge data eliminates this issue – documents are never in danger of being misplaced when critical information is stored directly on the asset.

In order for widespread adoption of the IIoT to occur, it must first prove its positive impact on the bottom line. Storing and processing data closer to the point of its production might be the main selling factor in the near future.

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