Is it the IIoT and the IoT — Or Just the IoT?

helloThe most interesting IIoT-related item that I saw today comes from a story at Tech.eu. It’s a profile of Marcus Weldon, the CTO of Alcatel-Lucent. Fortune’s Stacey Higginbotham picked out the important comment, from an IIoT point of view. So this passage is both from the original piece — which was written by Robin Wauters — and from Higginbotham’s:

Interestingly, while Weldon says IoT will become the lifeblood of the new enterprise, he believes the consumer IoT is largely overblown. His exact words: “IoT is about enterprise, not about consumer.”

Calling devices like FitBit and the Apple Watch “cute” and “curiosities” but “not transformative”, Weldon said he personally “doesn’t really believe in consumer IoT in the same way others do” and that he believes the impact of IoT technology on enterprises will be far greater.

The point to me is that there still is a lack of agreement on definitions. The belief that the impact of sensorized, M2M-based automated communications will be greater on the factory floor than in a health club certainly makes sense. Perhaps the opposite also can be argued.

The first point–before getting there–is to figure out what precisely we are talking about. The quote from Weldon is that “the IoT” is about the enterprise. In this conception, the IIoT doesn’t exist. It’s one IoT, divided between Fitbits and huge turbines. In another vision — one I favor, of course, since I started a site called “The IIoT Times” — features two distinct but deeply related worlds: The IoT and the IIoT. They overlap, share technology, work together and are generally good buddies.

But they are different businesses.

It is important to remember that this is more than a semantic difference. Conceiving of the IoT and the IIoT as two aligned but separate entities on one hand or seeing it as one big IoT with grownup’s and kid’s sections is a huge difference. It will impact standards developments, investment, product road mapping and assorted other technical and business decisions.

If this fundamental industry-wide issue is not settled, progress on what many refer to as the IIoT or Industrial Internet will be considerably slower than if it is.

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