The Industrial Internet Consortium was just shy of one year old when I joined in March 2015. I joined with some of the same emotions experienced by our members as they join – excitement at the prospect of leading what has emerged as a revolution; the anticipation and promise of working with the most innovative minds in the world; imagining the rewards of new discussions and partnerships that would teach me new ways to approach problems, decisions and the world.
As I lead the marketing team, the task of promoting this milestone 5th anniversary falls on our shoulders. But I don’t want to use this space to recap the outcomes of the past five years – you can find those easily enough on our website (hint: industry resources, testbeds and the Resource Hub). Instead, I would like to give you a little glimpse of the intangibles, my observations associated with the work that is constantly evolving and insights from my colleagues on this milestone event.
What the world outside of the Consortium often misses is the most critical components of the publishing process: Disputing the differences across perspectives, gaining new appreciation for competitive views and finding the common ground for the benefit of the industry. Some of the best and most insightful conversations occurred over the course of the drafting of the Industrial Internet Security Framework, to name just one collaborative document where the varied perspectives slowed the authoring process but raised the quality of the resulting framework in a monumental way no other organization could achieve.
Another hidden process that reflects the collaborative and innovative spirit of our members is the Journal of Innovation. I have described this thought-leading Journal on many occasions and each time am filled with admiration for the co-authors who carve out valuable time to produce insightful articles, frequently introducing nascent technologies and applications, often in co-authorship extending beyond their usual work circles, with the goal of educating the industry to make the path forward easier for all. These authors are supported by editors and peer reviewers whose applied effort is invaluable in raising the quality of each article and Journal of Innovation edition.
We at the Consortium talk a great deal about collaboration, but this organization walks the walk in ways that are revolutionizing global industry.
I asked some of my colleagues to offer their thoughts from a rear-view mirror perspective as well as through the lens pointed toward the future:
We could fit around the dinner table at the first meeting of the Industrial Internet Consortium in 2014. We had only six members (five founders, plus one) and a couple of representatives from each one. From there we grew rapidly as interest in the industrial internet grew. We are now over 200 members, with over four thousand representatives and we have joined forces with the Open Fog Consortium. We are producing an enormous amount of output.
Like the Industrial Internet Consortium, the industrial internet started small. At first, the goal was asset efficiency, now we see changes in business models and the beginnings of cross-industry fertilization. (Tracking and tracing assets, for example, applies to a lot of industries.) Like the IIC, the industrial internet will grow and change, and we will work to accelerate its development for the benefit of consumers, society and a sustainable planet.
I joined the Industrial Internet Consortium three months after the March 2014 announcement when there were less than 30 members and a handful of working and task groups. In the years since, we have grown to over 200 member organizations and 35 roll-up-your-sleeves working and task groups, as well as 24 testbeds – with resulting products and services launched or heading to market. I have had the pleasure of building great relationships with so many dedicated and innovative members and colleagues. Every day brings new opportunities and challenges and I have never once stopped learning since my first member meeting in Austin, Texas in 2014.
One of the great things about the IIoT is that no single company can win the IIoT. End to end solutions require companies to work together. This is where the IIC comes in. We provide the ecosystem where ideas become testbeds, testbeds deliver results, and those results turn into solutions. Our members have the opportunity to work together, sometimes sitting directly next to their competitor to build new solutions and applications with the latest technologies in a non-competitive environment. The IIC as an organization helps avoid groupthink. We have more than 3000 individual members from hundreds of companies globally. Each person brings their own perspective to the table and their own learned experiences. Access to the IIC will help anyone interested in broadening their own perspective.
The growth of our organization in the past five years has been amazing. Companies join for many reasons; some getting heavily involved and dedicating the people resources needed to truly engage with the ecosystem, others for the awareness and access to the IIoT knowledge base among our membership. One of our accomplishments is our co-organization of IoT Solutions World Congress which we launched with Fira Barcelona in 2015. It has grown to be the largest international industry IoT event in the world. It has established itself as the worldwide landmark for IIoT solutions, applications and emerging technologies and in 2018 attracted over 16,000 attendees with over 70% representing C-Level and senior executives.
I encourage people young and old to get involved in the IIoT by looking at all the ways it touches our lives. The word “Industrial” can evoke visions of grease and dark warehouses but the IIoT is shaping so much of our lives: from agriculture crop management to intelligent urban water supplies to smart manufacturing and autonomous vehicles. There are so many opportunities for women and men to find an area of IoT that excites them. My advice for newcomers to IoT is not to be intimidated by technology and know that each person brings a different skill set and when shared in collaboration with others can result in new solutions, applications and business outcomes.
Join us April 9th on Twitter (@IIConsortium) as we extend our anniversary celebration in combination with World IoT Day. There, you will hear directly from our members – the innovative applications they are implementing today, where these thought leaders see the industry going, recommendations of the guidance and other best practices offered by the IIC and the importance of the ecosystem and testbeds of the IIC.
Happy Anniversary to us! Wishing many more ever-changing, ever-disrupting years to come!
VP of Marketing