The Industrial Internet aims to create efficiencies from industrial systems by having more sensors and more data that adjust and improve operations. The Industrial Internet helps people make more informed decisions, engage with others, and start their own businesses.
Despite the great opportunities from sharing data, people are concerned about the security and privacy of their data. As a result, systems need to be created for data confidentiality and security in order to effectively drive open innovation for mass adoption.
The ultimate aim of the Industrial Internet is not only simple efficiency; it offers sustainability opportunities from improved accounting methods, engaging with people, and bringing sustainability back to the design phase of new technologies.
“To be able to share data, you have to share with trust, which means that privacy is a critical issue.” —Ros Harvey, Sense-T
“The Internet of Things is a wonderful technological possibility, but it isn’t the opportunity. The opportunity is how you work people into that equation. People, process, data, and things actually create the value.” —Jeremy Hartman, Cisco
“Networks should be able to see, feel, hear, and think. If you do this right, you can take the millions of sensors and create some useful capability, but it has to have tight governance.” —Michael Finegan, Sprint Nextel
Chase started the session by introducing the concept of the Industrial Internet, a term that was coined by General Electric in 2012. The Industrial Internet describes how more sensors and more data create efficiencies from industrial systems by ingesting data from machines, analyzing them, and adjusting operations. The session focused on how the Industrial Internet relates to the industrial and agricultural backbone of our economy. After the short introduction of the session’s focus, Chase asked the three speakers to introduce themselves and their organizations.
Harvey described Sense-T as the world’s first economy-wide intelligent sensor network that integrates real-time data from sensors across Australia’s island state of Tasmania to provide business, governments, and civil society with tools to make more informed decisions regarding economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Sense-T is a partnership among the University of Tasmania, the Tasmanian state government, CSIRO, and IBM. The program aims to deliver productivity gains for the state’s economy and improve Tasmania’s environmental and resource management.
For Harvey, three things are important to build a sustainable knowledge infrastructure: user-driven data design, sharing of data within communities and across sectors, and confidentiality of data. Even though Big Data offers a lot of opportunities, people are concerned about the lack of data privacy when sharing their data. She said it is therefore important to design systems for data confidentiality that create value, allow sharing, and drive open innovation.
Hartman said that Cisco helps people to solve problems through the use of technologies and networks. With the Industrial Internet, billions of things and people are being connected, which helps people make more informed decisions. However, he added that the Industrial Internet alone isn’t the solution. The opportunity is to take information from things, process it in the right way, and get it to the right person at the right time in order to make the right decision. Connecting people, process, data, and things ultimately creates value and increases productivity.
Finegan agreed with Harvey and Hartman regarding the great opportunity for connecting billions of sensors and devices. His company, Sprint Nextel, focuses on emerging solutions about how to connect data and apply them in a network in a meaningful way. Finegan said that the ultimate aim is to move beyond “machine to machine” and develop “machine interface to network” capabilities. Likewise, he confirmed that continuous trust throughout the network is very important and helps to build meaningful, trusted, and shared networks.
Next, Chase asked the speakers whether the trust question is different for the Industrial Internet compared to the consumer trust question. Hartman argued that trust is contextual and it comes down to what people get in return for being connected. For example, people in high-income countries are mostly concerned about privacy and security when sharing their data. On the other hand, people in low-income countries have a greater urgency for being connected because it enables them to get access to education, medicine, and financial support, among other much-needed services.
Chase further asked about the sustainability impacts and opportunities of the Industrial Internet. Whereas Harvey believes that real-time data can be useful in addressing climate change, Hartman thinks that the Industrial Internet will be helpful in solving access to healthcare problems and other poverty issues. Finally, Finegan sees a new paradigm shift and believes that the internet is useful in engaging more people to reach even more people: He offered microfinance and Kickstarter projects as two examples demonstrating the effectiveness of connecting people.
During the Q&A session, an audience member asked how confidentiality of data can be assured, especially with regard to the legal and regulatory framework about the ownership of data. Hartman argued that our regulatory system needs to be a living one: It needs to grow, change, and adapt in order to process huge amounts of data effectively.
Another audience question concerned business models that are most appropriate for emerging technologies. Harvey recommended new ways of thinking about the business model, especially when considering the open innovation model. Today, any company—large or small—can develop emerging technologies because the Industrial Internet enables them to share data and workspace virtually with other people. The low cost structure of technology represents a real game-changer because it provides people with access to new opportunities that haven’t existed before.
Chase concluded the session by stating that the ultimate aim of the Industrial Internet is not only simple efficiency. The Industrial Internet offers sustainability opportunities from improved accounting methods, engaging with people, and bringing sustainability back to the design phase of new technologies.