Part 1 of the “2018 Top IT Trends” series
With so many exciting new technologies entering the mainstream, identifying one top trend might be controversial. But I’ll put a stake in the ground: adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) platforms will lead the way. In this series of four blogs, I’ll expand on my theories on the top 10 technology trends of 2018, beginning with the IoT and the primary reasons I believe this is true.
IT will adopt IoT platforms to facilitate the application of IoT solutions. IoT solutions deliver valuable insight to support digital transformation and are rapidly becoming a strategic imperative in almost every industry and market sector. Cloud, analytics, and IoT will greatly enhance operational technology (OT)-dominated industries, and enable greater efficiency, security, intelligence, and profitability for the enterprise. Unfortunately, most IT organizations have very little knowledge or experience with OT systems like supervisory, control, and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.
SCADA systems were designed to provide high-level process supervisory management of other devices and systems such as programmable logic controllers (PLC) and discrete proportional-integral-derivative (PID) controllers that interface with the process plant or machinery. Conversely, those responsible for OT systems typically have very little knowledge or practice with IT methodologies like cloud, containers, microservices, security, distributed storage, and analytics. Building IoT solutions that provide real value can be difficult without the right underlying architecture and a deep understanding of the OT business to properly simulate and digitalize operational entities and processes.
This is where the choice of an IoT platform and the choice of an experienced services provider is important. Enterprises should look for an IoT platform that offers an open, flexible architecture that simplifies integration with complementary technologies. The IoT platform should provide an extensible “foundry” on which to build a variety of industry applications that companies need to design, build, test, and deploy quickly and with minimal hassle.
With the best IoT platforms, OT systems can report status in near real time. The scalability available in cloud environments can then be used to implement more complex control algorithms that are not practical to implement on traditional programmable logic controllers.
The use of open network protocols such as TLS, inherent in the IoT technology, provides a more manageable security boundary than previous OT systems. OT systems were traditionally designed to be easily accessible, robust, and easily operated and maintained, but are not necessarily secure. While OT was originally built around closed systems with physical security, cybersecurity must be added as OT infrastructures extend into the cloud through IoT.
The networking of data also frees up the data that is locked up in traditional PLC memory addresses and makes it available for data-modelling techniques like asset avatars, which are virtual representations of each device in software and data. These avatars can also include other pertinent information like Web-based information, sensor values, and database entries that may be used for other facets of the IoT implementation.
My next blog will look at three more key trends: virtualization, analytics, artificial intelligence, and data governance.
For more insight on IoT, see 8 Predictions For The Internet Of Things In 2018.