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As Manufacturers Go Digital, Customer Value Expands

Every single day, I’m reminded that a digital revolution is taking place—from researching local coffee places on the dashboard of my car to ordering coffee on my mobile device—it’s clear that our lives are becoming more digitized. This is also apparent for the businesses and industries that manufacture the goods that we use everyday. In order to compete today, manufacturers must respond to complex and constantly changing demands from their customers. That requires the agility, rapid innovation, and fast execution that only digital manufacturing can deliver. Too many manufacturers, however, still lack these critical capabilities and suffer from fragmented and siloed organizational structures.

This was reinforced by new research from Cisco on the current and future state of digital disruption in manufacturing. The study included economic analysis, interviews with manufacturing industry thought leaders, and a survey of more than 600 senior leaders from 13 countries, representing both industrial machine builders and end-user manufacturers.

Our research confirmed that manufacturers get it. They understand that a digital revolution is taking place, and they want to be part of it. Seventy-nine percent believe that digital disruption will drive a moderate to major impact at their companies in the next three years. Moreover, they see digital technologies such as cloud, IoT, and analytics as having the biggest impact on their production — not more manufacturing-centric technologies such as robotics and 3D printing.

However, in terms of driving new value, many are faltering. Their service strategies, for example, are seen as a key opportunity for new revenue, but they are not driving expected levels of growth.

Digital business transformation is the solution, but it can’t be done in a piecemeal fashion; it must be implemented across the entire organization and beyond, throughout the ecosystem. Analytics, cloud, machine-to-machine connections, and collaboration tools all enable new opportunities for sharing data insights. Getting those insights to the people (or machines) who need them most, on the other hand, can be challenging. In this context, silos — between IT and operational technology (OT), engineering and design, and so forth — are the enemy to progress.

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Job One: Securing IoT

Recently, I participated in the panel on Internet of Things (IoT) security as part of the Automation Perspectives media event hosted by Rockwell Automation, just prior to Automation Fair 2015 in Chicago. It is clear that the ability to deal effectively with security threats is the No. 1 make-or-break factor for IoT adoption. With this reluctance to implement IoT, companies will not benefit from the growing number of powerful IoT use cases that are emerging across all industries, which includes the digital revolution in manufacturing, where there is an identified 12.8 percent profit upside over three years for manufacturers that digitize.

IoT is now part of the very fabric of industry and the public infrastructure, including such essential services as transportation, the power grid, the water supply, and public safety. When these systems are compromised, the damage can go far beyond financial loss. Some examples in years following the Great Recession:

  • 2008 – A 14-year-old Polish boy hacked a local tram system, disrupting traffic, derailing trams, and injuring 12 passengers
  • 2009 – Due to a failure in the automated control system, a Washington D.C. Metrorail train struck the rear of a stopped train, resulting in death and injury
  • 2014 – An overflow of wastewater at a water treatment plant was due to suspected unauthorized employ access

In recent years, there have also been hacks on nuclear power plants, transportation systems, and connected cars. No one wants their company to show up on the front page of the paper as a cyberattack victim. In addition to the physical impacts, attack vectors on IoT security can cause losses that are less immediately perceptible—but very real and lasting—including downtime, brand damage, breach of trust, and theft of intellectual property.

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The Future of IoT Is Now: Proof at the upcoming IoT World Forum

IoTWFWe’re now less than a week away from the Internet of Things World Forum, located in Dubai. This premier industry event, on December 6-8, will showcase many of the exciting transformations made possible by the Internet of Things (IoT) gaining momentum across the globe. The agenda is packed with keynotes by industry leaders, breakout sessions, a hackathon, a startup showcase, and a smart-city tour of Dubai. But there are two events I’m particularly proud to highlight.

Research and Innovation Symposium

Designed for industry leaders, academic researchers, R&D directors, and technology professionals driving IoT, the symposium provides unique insight into the emerging technologies and research that will shape the future of IoT. This year, the symposium will explore “the two faces of IoT”—the endless possibilities for innovation, and the haunting technology questions and challenges that must be addressed and overcome as we move toward an ever more connected world. The symposium will run in two information-rich 75-minute sessions over the course of two days. It will highlight the insights of distinguished speakers from around the world representing perspectives from industry, government, and academia. If you want a glimpse into the future of IoT, don’t miss it.

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Cisco Provides Leadership in Newly Formed OpenFog Consortium

The OpenFog Consortium has made its debut as an ecosystem of industry and academic leaders to foster an open architecture for fog computing in the Internet of Things (IoT). This is an important milestone that will accelerate IoT deployments and maximize their value across a wide range of industries.

AP46072_small_croppedMy friend and colleague, Helter Antunes, has been a pivotal force in forming the OpenFog Consortium and has worked tirelessly with other founding members to iron out the myriad of details involved in creating this sort of multi-party organization. He has also been instrumental in developing Cisco’s own fog computing strategy. That is why I am particularly pleased to congratulate him on being named the OpenFog Consortium’s first chairman, who will guide the group through its formative stages. Read More »

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OpenFog Consortium: An Ecosystem to Accelerate End-to-End IoT Solutions

Over the past several months,OpenFog Logo V1.01 I have been privileged to represent Cisco in working with other industry and academic partners to form the OpenFog Consortium, which was announced earlier today. You can learn more in the press release about what this new organization is, but I want to focus on why such an organization is so important at this stage of development of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Earlier this week, my colleague Maciej Kranz discussed the city of Barcelona’s fog computing proof of concept, which was showcased at the Smart City World Expo Congress. The proof of concept demonstrated that fog technology can bring intelligence to a range of urban services, including transportation, parking, lighting, traffic and waste management, public safety, and law enforcement.

But smart city services are only the beginning. Fog computing can provide immense value across all industries. For example, it might take 12 days via satellite to transmit one day’s worth of data to the cloud from a remote oil rig. With fog computing the data is processed locally, and safety or equipment alerts can be acted upon immediately. In manufacturing and transportation, preventive maintenance applications can process a huge amount of sensor data to trigger needed maintenance before there is an equipment failure. In retail, data from parking lot video cameras can not only provide security surveillance, but can also work with fog analytics capabilities to predict store traffic flow and optimize checkout staffing.

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