The needed mindset when entering the Industrial IoT world


As I write this, I’m on a flight back home to the Midwest from a Canadian IoT event for B+B SmartWorx partners and systems integrators (SI). I took a detour to participate in this event on the way home from a trip to attend college orientation with my oldest daughter.

At the IoT event, I sat on a panel fielding many questions from attendees. One of the questions was: “What advice would I offer integrators and value-added resellers (VARs) looking to begin in the world of the Industrial Internet of Things?”

As I do a mental replay of that session, it occurs to me that the advice I gave those integrators and VARs is very much the same advice I would have given at a commencement speech for the graduates of 2017 — had anyone asked me to give one.

My advice, whether for a new graduate or an experienced systems integrator, is that the past has shaped you. Friends, experiences, successes and failures — these are the things that have made you who you are.

Yet our world is changing at an ever-growing pace. Don’t allow your past to define your future. The future is as vast and unlimited as you allow it to be. If you use your past as a filter through which you view the future, you won’t grow as a person or as a business.  Instead, businesses (and graduates) must use past experiences to create an evolving framework and toolset to imagine what the future could hold. Those that do will be in the best position to adapt to constantly evolving opportunities.

It should be no surprise this advice is easier said than done. If you’re in a technology-related market and you’re still using the tried-and-true business models that worked for you 10 years ago, your future is likely easy to predict. I’ve got some bad news about what I see in your tea leaves.

It’s exhilarating to be in the midst of this rapidly changing environment. Not unlike the transition from high school to college, the opportunities unfolding in the industrial IoT space are tremendous. Exciting, yet tinged with elements of uncertainty.

I’ve been fortunate to be able to work with a number of companies that are in the early stages of the Connected Product or Connected Service journey.  Some of them have tremendous vision for how, over time, this journey is going to change most everything about their business.  Others are more timid, often coming to us because their largest customers are insisting they provide a modernized solution that provides the connectivity and insight we’re all coming to expect.

Many companies are making big moves to get out in front of it, quietly restructuring every aspect of their business in ways that allow them to leverage their experiences of the past and capitalize on future growth opportunities. Other companies seem to be paying some lip service to change, but when you peek behind the curtains, you find the same people, same departments, and same business structures.

I can’t help but draw parallels between my young high school graduate and the technology and business climate of the IIoT. In both, it will be exciting and exhilarating, with a small helping of uncertainty on the side.

Now is the time to be fearless, yet still a bit pragmatic as we charge forward to discover what the next several years will bring.


 Happy (IIoT) Connections!

 -Mike Fahrion


P.S.  If you feel like you’re standing on the precipice of an IIoT-related decision in your organization, I can recommend a new book on the IIoT that was recently published by Bruce Sinclair, “How Your Company Can Use the Internet of Things to Win in the Outcome Economy.”

It has a great mix of business and technology I’d recommend for anyone playing a role in a company’s IoT strategy.

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