CIO Jury: Why 58 percent of tech leaders are unprepared to handle IIoT data

Tech leaders must get ready for the huge amounts of data that IIoT technology will generate.
Written by Alison DeNisco Rayome, Managing Editor

Growth of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) -- the use of internet-connected technologies to enhance manufacturing and industrial processes -- will also lead to massive increases in the amount of data that companies can collect on these processes. However, the majority of company tech leaders said their organizations are not ready to handle the large amounts of data collected by IIoT devices, according to a TechRepublic CIO Jury poll.

When asked, "Are you prepared to handle the amount of data that your organization will be able to collect due to Industrial IoT?" seven CIO Jury members said no, while five said yes.

SEE: The Power of IoT and Big Data (Tech Pro Research)

"I have seen pretty much the same situation across a number of diverse companies, medium and large," said Florentin Albu, chief digital strategist at Utility Computing. "The majority are in the process of discovering that their way of dealing with data is antiquated, and that in order to move forward, they need a data strategy closely linked to their business goals. I am working with clients that want to take advantage of advanced analytics and AI applications, and are challenged by their gaps in data quality, inconsistent data architectures, and a lack of end purpose applied to data processes."

In the financial industry, "we do anticipate ever smarter devices such as our ATM fleet to be able to provide advanced remote diagnostics that will significantly reduce both staff time and down time," said John C. Gracyalny, vice president of digital member services at Coast Central Credit Union.

And while the organization is not yet ready, "we are taking steps to create the processes and platform for a data lake and an analytical engine to gain insight," said Timothy Wenhold, CIO of Power Home Remodeling.

Other cases are more complicated. "We can handle it and we cannot handle it at the same time," said Kris Seeburn, independent IT consultant, evangelist, and researcher. "The issue here is not only the infrastructure, but also the readiness and the cleanliness of the data itself," Seeburn said. "We need all other departments to work closer to ensure the quality and the readiness as well as worthiness of the data being mined for the good use."

SEE: Big data policy (Tech Pro Research)

However, Seeburn noted that GDPR and other regulations can make this task more difficult. "We are ready to do so at the speed of light, but we are still within the boundaries of what we can ultimately use and do," he explained. The challenge is now in meeting regulations, user needs, and organizational needs, Seeburn added.

All of the current cloud options on the market make handling data much easier, said Johan den Haan, CTO at Mendix. The challenge remains in gleaning insights from that data, and making those insights actionable, he added.

"For insights you need analytics -- ideally streaming analytics to quickly respond to IoT events from your industrial processes," den Haan said. "Getting value from industrial IoT often means a quick analysis of events is needed, compared with historical data and data from other enterprise systems."

"For a large part we've been looking to cloud storage to handle our overall data growth, related to general data growth but specifically with IoT data gathering," said Dan Gallivan, director of information technology at Payette. "Knowing the data growth could be unpredictable with IoT we don't want it to negatively affect existing production areas, so we have found it best to isolate the data; then we can report against it in that isolated space and either manage it, dump it or archive it if necessary."

Richard Billiam, head of IT at Fireblue Solutions, said his firm is also investing in cloud solutions to help ingest data from many sources, and collate them into data sets to provide information in the short and long term. "Out IoT landscape is limited at the moment, but we have the infrastructure to scale if it is required," Billiam said. "Gleaning insight from that data is a bigger issue and our perspective may change on that over time."

Many organizations lack data governance processes needed to ensure the quality of collected data, as well as the in-house skills to create a system to process near real-time streaming big data, or data scientists who can extract insights from this information, said Moshe Kranc, CTO of Ness Digital Engineering. "People with these skills tend to be attracted to the Googles and Facebooks of the world, not to industrial companies that have real-world IoT problems to solve," Kranc said.

Michael Hanken, vice president of IT at Multiquip Inc., said his organization contracted with an experienced service provider using existing products to handle IIoT data. "I would not necessarily try that in-house," he added.

How CIOs can prepare for the influx of IIoT data

Before starting any IIoT project, CIOs need to first have a data management strategy in place for their existing data, said Mark Hung, vice president of AI and IoT at Gartner -- who was not part of the CIO Jury.

In other words, "[CIOs must] get their current house in order before introducing a new disruptive technology and process," Hung said. "The data architecture will necessarily span across the edge, the enterprise, and the cloud."

It's also important to consider the security of IIoT devices, said Joe Lea, vice president of product at Armis, who was also not part of the CIO Jury. "These new IIoT devices don't have any security built in, and are very hard to update and manage," Lea said. "CIOs are contending with an explosion of these new devices and a massively expanded attack landscape."

Finally, organizations must define a data strategy that is closely linked to the business to achieve coherence between technology, processes, and people/skills, Albu said. "This is ever more important with the influx of data that IIoT brings," he added.

This month's CIO Jury included:

  • Lance Taylor-Warren, CIO, Community Health Alliance
  • Michael Hanken, vice president of IT, Multiquip Inc.
  • Florentin Albu, chief digital strategist, Utility Computing
  • Richard Billiam, head of IT, Fireblue Solutions
  • Moshe Kranc, CTO, Ness Digital Engineering
  • Kris Seeburn, independent IT consultant, evangelist, and researcher
  • Jeff Kopp, technology director, Christ the King Catholic School
  • Timothy Wenhold, CIO, Power Home Remodeling
  • John C. Gracyalny, vice president of digital member services, Coast Central Credit Union
  • Martin Mc Cormack, CEO, College of Anaesthesiologists of Ireland
  • Johan den Haan, CTO, Mendix
  • Dan Gallivan, director of information technology, Payette

Want to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury and have your say on the top issues for IT decision makers? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director, or equivalent at a large or small company, working in the private sector or in government, and you want to join TechRepublic's CIO Jury pool, click the Contact link below or email alison dot rayome at cbsinteractive dot com, and send your name, title, company, location, and email address.

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