Planning, standards and change management all need to be improved agree panellists at Computing's IoT Business Summit

The term Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution, was coined in 2011 by the German government to describe industrial production that encompasses "mass customisation", automation, self-optimisation, self-configuration, machine learning, self-diagnosis and decentralisation. The Internet of Things (IoT) is very much part of Industry 4.0, and with more and more connected devices coming on-stream every day (not to mention the accompanying media hype) surely organisations have some sort of strategy in place for its arrival?

"Speaking about urban developments, activity is very diverse but mostly clueless," said Jarmo Eskelinen, CITO of Future Cities Catapult.

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"They have no IoT strategy, or they're installing systems by multiple vendors that are not manageable as a whole," he said. "I predict the lack of skills and strategy will lead to problems with security, interoperability and vendor lock-in."

Eskelinen was a panellist in a session on preparing for Industry 4.0 at Computing's inaugural Internet of Things Business Summit last week.

In the context of smart cities, the sheer scale, complexity of the urban environment and the large number of public and private actors must not be underestimated, he went on. City planners need to decide what they want to do then build up the skills and experience to ensure they can see it through.

"We need to build the skills in house," Eskelinen said. "We don't plan the urban landscape without architects for buildings... City Hall employs lots of architects and we need to have those technology skills in house too."

The problem is that the timescales needed to embed IoT are longer that the political election cycle, he went on.

The pace of change can have a freezing effect, with companies confused by the number of possibilities, feeling they should do something but unsure as to how to proceed. All of the panellists agreed that firms should avoid the trap of just using technology for the sake of it, but at the same time they should ensure they are able to grab opportunities as they arise. An agile, step-by step approach is required.


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