Industrial IoT: Evolution or Revolution…?

My colleague Peter Reynolds was a bit of a hooligan last week.  His blog post Internet of Things: Have we been doing this for 25 years? certainly created a bit of a stir in our little corner of the internet.

Ken Hart’s said in his comment on the post, “it’s evolution, not revolution”.  Honestly Ken, I think the real answer is “it depends” – and that’s not just me hedging my bets.  It depends on your perspective:

  • From an engineering perspective, sure it’s evolutionary.  ARC analysts will gladly tell anyone who’s careless enough to wander into our workshops that all the technology needed to implement an IIoT application already exists.  We’re not dependent on any blinding breakthrough to make it real.  So engineers, fill yer boots as Peter might say.
  • From a business perspective, it can – and should – be revolutionary.  In fact, I think it really only depends on how big your vision is.  As I noted in my comment on Peter’s post, the more “islands of information” we connect together, the greater the insight into the value chain.  And the greater the insight into the (extended) value chain, the greater the potential for revolution.

So, if you’re elbow-deep in bits and bytes, it’s evolutionary.  On the other hand, the higher up the management stack you get, the more revolutionary IIoT is.  Because Industrial IoT is about more than plant-level integration.

And, if you think about it, that’s the way most things are.  Take the World Wide Web.  A  technical evolution that Sir Tim Berners-Lee worked on as a side project.  And yet, it utterly – utterly – changed the way we share information.  Your kids can’t function without it.  I can barely remember how we used to get work done without it.  Oh, that’s right, we weren’t all screwing around on Facebook…

(Originally published on, a blog by ARC Advisory Group analysts)