The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) is a global organization working to accelerate the successful adoption of the tools of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) within organizations of all kinds. It was founded in March 2014 by an agreement among AT&T, Cisco, General Electric, IBM and Intel, and currently has more than 260 members located in 30 countries, with hundreds more non-members beneficially tapping into its resources.
According to the organization, its mission is to “deliver a trustworthy IIoT in which the world’s systems and devices are securely connected and controlled to deliver transformational outcomes.” Another description states “the IIC is an open, neutral ‘sandbox’ where industry, academia and government meet to collaborate, innovate and enable.” Both descriptions are very apt, in my opinion.
The benefits that IIC is working to provide are profound—the organization notes that although the Industrial Internet represents an estimated $32 trillion opportunity for the corporate world, a whopping 73% of companies have not made concrete plans to implement it in their organizations.
As at long-term IIC member, Belden has been diligently engaged in its activities for several years. We think they are doing an outstanding job of helping more and more organizations successfully adopt new technology and benefit from the tools of the IIoT. We like that they focus specifically on the highly specialized Industrial side of the Internet of Things, as opposed to the many fine organizations which are more geared toward the consumer side of IoT.
We also like the IIC’s diversity—first of all, similar to how Belden serves its own customers, the IIC has work groups focused on horizontal technology areas (architecture, security, connectivity) applied to vertical market end users in industries such as Energy & Utilities, Manufacturing, Mining, Smart Cities and Transportation. And, the IIC is not just comprised of manufacturers but also has members from government and academia as well as end users, providing a valuable hybrid of perspectives. The IIC also has a very inclusive culture that makes it easy for companies of all sizes to actively participate and benefit from the organization. For example, they have a tiered membership fee structure based on company size and they maintain a seat on their Steering Committee for a small company representative. In fact, a small company member currently serves as vice chairman of the organization, and many other small company representatives serve in other visible roles.
How you can benefit
There are many reasons to participate in the Industrial Internet Consortium. Being part of the organization can enable you to:
- Collaborate and network with like-minded leaders of the Industrial Internet, including representatives from small and large technology innovators, vertical market leaders, researchers, universities, and governments
- Drive innovation and grow your business by creating new industry use cases and testbeds for real-world applications
- Join with industry innovators in setting the technology and security direction and requirements for the Industrial Internet
- Define and develop the reference architecture, frameworks and security necessary for interoperability
- Influence the global development standards process for internet and industrial systems
- Participate in the sharing and exchange of real-world ideas, best practices, lessons and insights
After the Steering Committee, there are Working Groups in diverse areas including Business Strategy and Solution Lifecycle, Liaison, Marketing (for which I currently serve as co-chair), Security, Technology and Testbeds. These Working Groups coordinate and establish the priorities and enabling technologies of the Industrial Internet in order to accelerate market adoption and drive down the barriers to entry. Towards this end, each of these groups enables a number of specific Task Groups to work on individual challenges. Members can take part in any and all of these efforts.
One of the most valuable services the organization provides is the development of frameworks which help organizations establish their own efforts in certain key areas. Among these are a Connectivity Framework and an Industrial Internet Security Framework. Belden representatives actively contributed their decades of knowledge and experience to the creation of both of these documents on behalf of the industry.
Another huge part of the group’s efforts and their contributions to the IIoT community are their Testbed activities. The Testbed Working Group creates testbeds for new technologies, new applications, new products, new services and new processes. They also provide the means for testbed outcomes to be initiated, thought through and rigorously tested to ascertain their usefulness and viability before coming to market. The IIC has more than two dozen testbed efforts underway, including those related to Smart Energy Management, Track and Trace, Retail Video Analytics, Condition Monitoring and Time-Sensitive Networking -- a topic where Belden is supplying expert leadership. Participating in testbeds—as well as getting access to their results—is a great benefit of being involved with IIC. Members have strong input into identifying testbed efforts and often have them underway in their own facilities.
But, as suggested, even non-members can benefit from the organization, and right away. In fact, you can go right now to https://www.iiconsortium.org/ and click around an enormous body of valuable resources including videos, webinars, testbed results, white papers, framework documents, technical articles, case studies and more.
Come join Belden in the IIC—we welcome you
There’s no doubt that the benefits of the IIoT will be enormous for nearly any industrial organization. But it’s equally true that successfully implementing the enabling technologies in a systematic way can be a daunting challenge. The IIC can help. We encourage readers to consider membership or at least to start checking out the organization’s resources. If you have any questions about our experiences with the organization, we’re happy to share details with you. We look forward to seeing you there and working with you for the good of the industry.
To learn more about IIoT and the implications for automation, energy and transportation systems, check out this white paper, “Communication for the Industrial Internet of Things.”Related Links
Industrial Internet of Things Solutions
IIoT and Industrie 4.0
The IIoT Journey: 4 Predictions
Jeff Lund is a senior director of product line management in Belden’s industrial IT group where he is responsible for Belden’s cyber security products as well as for driving IIoT initiatives. Jeff has over 20 years of IIoT experience in a wide range of applications and is co-chair of the IIC marketing working group. Jeff has a MBA from Wharton and a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from UC Davis.