Have you ever thought about the consequences a lack of standardization has in the domain of IIoT and digital infrastructure?
Innovation and competition suffer, and manual data interpretation becomes necessary. In combination with ongoing development projects being the norm instead of the exception, digitalization projects tend to cost more than they could or should in the absence of a standard.
Companies making IoT solutions for industry want world domination.
Big enterprise conglomerates tend to publish their own standards, exposing their interfaces so others can use them, claiming that they have made an open standard. They have no interest in smaller, innovative companies coming along, ripping out one part or the other of their system, substituting it with a newer and better-working part.
Based on proprietary technology that is non-compatible with other systems, this way of thinking IIoT leads to:
- losing out on innovation
- lack of competition in the market
- unnecessary costs with regards to the integration of new assets into already existing systems of, for example, asset management
- vendor lock-in
What do I mean by industry standard?
Let me define what I mean by the term industry standard. To me, such a standard is not a standard defined by one company or vendor, nor by the customer.
That, to me, is a company-specific standard.
An industry standard is a standard defined by a standardization body.
In addition, it should be accepted and adopted by the industry for which it is intended.
However, this does not mean that the standardization body has to be the maker of the standard. Sometimes big industry enterprises within a domain work together to create something that is not necessarily the world´s best solution but will work for the industry at large. They take their solution to a standardization body, which will go through the solution, adapt it, then back it and make it a standard.
Why are standardized solutions necessary?
A standardized solution allows “anyone” to connect to a system and gather information, as systems based on the standard will look and operate the same. In addition, standardized models for contextualizing data ensure consistent naming; things will always appear uniform in presentation, regardless of vendor and “under-the-hood” systems.
In addition, there are more general issues to be addressed regarding why standardized solutions are imperative.
Losing out on innovation
Without open industry standards, much innovation is lost. Small companies with new and innovative ideas drown before they get to prove their ideas. To try out a new system, or part of a system, you have a big job to do, programming into the proprietary systems in place. And were you to do this into many different vendor-specific systems, it would be even more time-consuming, and your resources would be exhausted even before you get started, as it is not just “plug-and-play.”
Having industry standards means encouraging innovation and making the rules for building things transparent and available. When standards, in addition, are open, anyone with the right competence can innovate and create, which ensures a greater community and ecosystem to draw upon for innovation.
Lack of competition
Vendor lock-in based on proprietary technology leads to a lack of competition.
A standardized system makes it possible for companies to specialize in parts of a system, thereby increasing the possibility of competition. The customer is then free to choose what vendor to use based on criteria such as how much server space is needed, what vendor is giving the best price at a given time, etc.
Unnecessary costs with regards to integration
Integrating new assets into already existing systems, such as an asset management system, is costly and time-consuming without working by an industry standard.
Industry standards simplify integration, reducing the number of ongoing integration projects at any given time, saving hours of labor and resources, reducing the total cost of ownership of an asset.
Enables asset play
When selling and buying assets, as many enterprises do these days, having an industry standard to work by makes it easier and more work-efficient when integrating a new acquisition, as the systems under-the-hood, look the same.
That's why industry standards matter.
I would go as far as saying industry standards should be mandatory.
With different vendors making software, it is of the essence that there is an industry-standard to follow to avoid vendor lock-in and everlasting integration projects, encourage innovation, and reduce the overall cost of integration projects when digitizing assets.