False Hope of IIOT & The Ascent of Data Science

It seems as if it has been the year-of-IOT for a few years now. Have we not arrived yet? Unfortunately for most, IOT and particularly IIOT (Industrial IOT) remains a continuously advancing horizon. Fix-before-failure, predictive maintenance, smart metering, asset tracking et al have all been touted as the killer-apps of IIOT for a long time. But as is evidenced by a recent personal anecdote, those killer-apps remain elusive: I recently went to a local Safeway, and found an entire refrigerated aisle shut down, because the refrigeration had failed. Why, in 2017, do we have a refrigeration unit that has not been fixed before it failed? Shouldn’t IIOT have come to the rescue?

I am not a naysayer. I do believe that IOT is trending in the right direction. But in the realm of B2B manufacturing, where I spend a lot of my time today at Entytle, there is no there there yet. Turns out that the reason is pretty simple. Informally, I have been told that roughly only 2% of Cisco’s IOT devices “call home”. For industrial manufacturers, it’s the same story but exacerbated by the fact that they must rely on their “un-connected” installed base for any growth. Equipment that was installed years and even decades ago are not “connected”. How do you do fix-before-failure on un-connected assets? You can’t. Right? Wrong.

At my local Safeway, IOT didn’t come to the rescue, but data science could have. That’s the problem our engineers are grappling with when they’re not playing ping-pong in our Palo Alto office or hiking up a hill behind our Pune office in India. The question they’re asking every day is, how can we mine our customers’ data – things like Orders, Service Records, Call Center Logs, Opportunities in CRM, Warranties, Service Contracts and the like – to extract patterns of customer behavior and usage and to make predictions about customer needs? How can we get better at predicting the health of drifted customers? How do we increase the linkage rate of customers so more assets are under contract? How do we ultimately improve the connect rate for our customers, so they can drive top-line revenue by recovering lost wallet share?

Data Science can, and does, find the answers. And our customers are finding that it can be game-changing for their business. Our customers are transforming their companies from being reactive to being proactive. They are improving their connectivity with customers like never before. And they are driving better outcomes for their customers. As Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia said, “Software may be eating the world, but AI is going to eat Software.”

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