Building an IoT Babel

Industrial Internet Consortium forms to drive forward next “revolution”

Lucy Carey

Not for profit corporate group joins Eclipse and M2M Alliance in fight to accelerate development of a safe and organized Internet of Things.

Fragmentation is a big potential stumbling block for the rise of the Internet of Things. With future profits hedged on the ability of objects to align with digital systems, it’s in the interests of everyone involved to ensure that the IoT moves forward in an orderly and standardized fashion. The Eclipse Foundation and M2M Alliance are already pioneering players in this field, and yesterday a new group of companies threw their collective hats into the ring.

On Thursday, AT&TT, Cisco Systems, General Electric, IBM and Intel announced the formation of the “Industrial Internet Consortium”, or IIC, a not-for-profit group formed with the objective of hastening and shaping the development of the IoT across a range of business sectors.

Reflecting the “industrial” focus of the IIC, the group’s interests will extend to areas such as  manufacturing, oil and gas exploration, healthcare and transportation. GE Software VP Bill Ruh has stated that the consortium may well also dabble in home  and building energy management.

According to the press release, the consortium will work together to “enable organizations to more easily connect and optimize assets, operations and data to drive agility and to unlock business value across all industrial sectors.” They plan to do this by fostering innovation in delivering best practice scenarios, case studies, reference architectures, and standards requirements for companies working to connect the cyber and physical worlds.

Although the five powerhouse founders will hold permanent seats on an elected steering committee for the consortium, membership is open for anyone who interested in helping to accelerate the Industrial Internet. Whilst there are currently vendors who provide software and hardware that plays nicely together, for example, in tech used in vending machines that send alerts when stocks are running low, it’s not always easy to provide solutions that neatly slot into third-party systems.

The consortium hopes that going forward, they can make it easier for companies to produce interoperable products – saving a lot of headaches for everyone. Or, as the release portentously puts it, create “substantial benefits, not just for any one organization, but for humanity.”

Tonk Shakib, VP of Cisco’s IoT Business Group, commented that the group “sends a message to everyone that we all have to play with each other.” By 2020, there are expected to be billions of interconnected devices pulsing out data all around us. But for now, IoT VP at Cisco Jouret says that ““Ninety-nine percent of everything is still unconnected”. If the predictions come to fruition, the rise of the IoT could truly be “the next industrial revolution”.

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