If your company has been considering implementing IoT solutions to their manufacturing processes but is unsure if they are ready for the change, you are not alone. In fact, 80% of big businesses say that IIoT will be important in their future success yet 72% of those companies are concerned about data security, an inability to do experiments quickly, and an underqualified IT staff.

If you have considered these issues, that’s a great start! Thankfully, there are plenty of solutions that help solve these issues, one of them being the use of plug-and-play for IIoT solutions. In reality, IIoT is easier to implement than ever before.

But if you are still unsure if your company is ready, this article should help you decide.

What is IIoT?

Before we question if your business is ready to implement IIoT solutions, we must first discuss what IoT is. Internet of Things (IoT) is a concept that describes a universe of connected devices that integrate with physical objects and infrastructure. This ‌refers to technologies for a general audience designed to make life easier, like self-driving cars, smart doorbells, and smartwatches.

By connecting devices to one another and forming a network, the manufacturing sector has leveraged the power of smart devices and AI technology to create an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). IIoT is specific to a manufacturing environment and uses sensors to automate production, monitor processes, and collect and process data.

Manufacturers are known to fall behind in implementing new technology, but interest in IIoT is growing and is very beneficial to the companies that implement it. IIoT gives its users a competitive advantage by helping them make better business decisions, improve workflows, and assure workplace safety.

Industry 4.0, which encompasses IIoT and smart manufacturing, brings together production and operations with smart digital technology, machine learning, and big data. While every company and organization operating today is different, they all face a common challenge—the need for connectedness and access to real-time insights across processes, partners, products, and people. Is your business IIoT ready? Read on to find out.

What makes a business IIoT ready?

The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies created an Industrial IoT readiness white paper, reviewing the necessary standards needed to implement IIoT to your manufacturing processes successfully.

Skillsets and collaboration

Is your team ready to implement IoT into their operations? Are they willing to learn something new and trust the insights provided by IoT solutions?

Manufacturers are transitioning between old and new technologies and many technicians are preparing for retirement, and are unwilling to change their ways. Because of this, it is important that everyone is understanding and that management is trusted. This big change may be unsettling for many, but it provides an opportunity to learn and grow, not just for the company, but for technicians themselves.

Strong Cybersecurity

12% of companies do not have any solutions to protect against cybersecurity risks. One of the best ways to avoid cybersecurity breaches like malware attacks is regular systems and software updates. Other adoptions include advanced encryption protocols for data transmission to the cloud, and the use of independent Wi-Fi networks to ensure there is no return path for malware.

Willingness to introduce organizational change

Companies must be willing to adjust how they operate in order to implement new technology and a new business model.

We know that shifting from having many onsite analysts to just a few working remotely means changing workflows and practices. It is important to understand that success depends on a widescale adoption of new practices. You can get support from your team by clearly setting expectations up front, stating the purpose and benefits of investing in Industry 4.0 technology, and being open and transparent with your team throughout the entire implementation process.

Thankfully, IIoT is more accessible than ever.

Manufacturers are known to fall behind in implementing new technology, but interest in IIoT is growing and is very beneficial to the companies that implement it. IIoT gives its users a competitive advantage by helping them make better business decisions, improving workflows, and warranting workplace safety.

Hesitancy is understandable, even if it does hold ventures back from potential gain. According to a study put forth by Hitachi, 32 percent of surveyed companies were unable to present a compelling return on investment for integrating IoT, another 32 percent struggled to keep potential solutions secure, 31 percent saw problems with cross-departmental cooperation, and 30 percent were unable to process the influx of data effectively.

The IIoT is complex. However, new solutions are now available that simplify the IIoT, allowing it to be implemented in operations of all sizes. Thanks to new cloud, data orchestration, and other technologies, as well innovative integrations of these technologies with wireless services, these new solutions enable manufacturing companies to quickly and easily converge their operational technology systems with their IT systems.

The work is worth it

IoT solutions will likely become a norm in business, making integration less of a tech-forward decision and more of a necessity for keeping up with the competition. Integrating IoT technology can and should be a priority even if they seem imperfect or because they require company leaders to overcome logistical hurdles. The potential payoff is far too high.

And by using these IIoT applications to automate manual, error-prone processes, generate insights that improve their decision-making, and offer new services to their customers, these companies will transform their businesses – as well as the global economy.

Industry 4.0 isn’t just about investing in new technology and tools to improve manufacturing efficiency—it’s about revolutionizing how your entire business operates and grows.