Putting legacy systems at the heart of IIoT

February 17, 2017 OpenSystems Media

Amidst all the talk about connected devices, big data, and business intelligence, businesses are being bombarded with the message, “Disrupt or be disrupted.” Recent research has revealed that 81 percent of CIOs believe legacy systems are having a negative impact on their businesses, but although there is a case for infrastructure investment, the need to disrupt need not be tantamount to huge expenditure. If the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solution you are considering for your business requires any kind of rip and replace, maybe you should think twice before taking the plunge as your existing infrastructure is smarter than you think.

The Industrial Internet of Things is at the heart of many digital transformation strategies, streamlining processes and improving efficiencies. Yet for those looking to reap the rewards of IIoT, ripping out supposedly out-dated systems and replacing them with new, state of the art facilities won’t do the business any favors. Not only will this exercise be extremely costly, but it will also remove the infrastructure that is already there – infrastructure that holds a mountain of data that can be put to work improving the business.

The potential business benefits of the IIoT are truly transformational in the pursuit of increasing productivity, saving money, and adding value to the business’s core purpose. This is fantastic in principle, but how many are willing to explore this potential if there’s a huge initial investment attached to it? Take refrigeration and cooling with the food retail industry as an example. It seems unlikely that replacing every in-store fridge, freezer, or food delivery van is going to appeal to a multiple retailer whose core business focus is selling produce, as the cost will far outweigh the immediate benefits. For businesses undergoing digital transformation, rather than investing in brand new equipment, the answer lies in existing infrastructure. The data that is an increasingly vital part of many enterprises’ digital strategies is already being generated; businesses simply need a way of extracting, understanding it and releasing its value.

Using an IoT layer, businesses can tap into the available data locked within legacy machines. By integrating it with supply chain and merchandising systems as well as the fridge control systems in real time, the temperature of each fridge can be automatically managed to suit its specific contents. As a result, energy consumption is reduced and a higher quality product can be achieved, resulting in a better customer experience.

Likewise, within the food manufacturing industry, IIoT technology at the edge can provide the necessary insight to monitor each stage of the process when creating foods in batches. Consistency of both ingredients quantities and environmental factors can be regulated and the available data from each stage of the process united to ensure the highest quality, most profitable end product every time.

There’s no denying that the Industrial Internet of Things is gaining momentum, but legacy equipment should not be a setback to its fruition – it should be at the heart of it. Many enterprises have the data needed to modernize sitting unused in their current systems, and now is the time to unlock it. IoT offers a world of opportunity but it must be implemented in a way that makes business sense. By taking full advantage of existing infrastructure with an IoT layer, enterprises can efficiently and effectively transform their organization in a way that supports their core business purpose.

Jason Kay is Chief Commercial Officer at IMS Evolve.

Jason Kay, IMS Evolve
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