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September 13, 2017

Considerations for Cost-effective IIoT Strategy

Omer Qadri
Omer Qadri

Omer has 15+ years experience evangelizing the power of software in Industrial Automation, Enterprise software and SaaS applications.

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Much has been written about the benefits of implementing IIoT, but very little has been discussed about the cost factors contributing to an IIoT application.

The Industrial Internet of Things is the environment where gadgets equipped with smart sensors collect data and exchange it over a network. In a nutshell, the total system cost can be summed up as following:

  • Edge devices (various equipment enhanced with embedded systems and smart sensors),
  • Platform (a piece of software that receives, analyzes and stores sensor data; it runs in the cloud or on a corporate server)
  • Apps (applications that connect edge devices to the platform and enable users to manage their equipment/assets and provide operational insights)

Picking the wrong IIoT framework may cost you an arm and leg, especially if your application calls for significant edge devices. So, lets explore each one of these IIoT components.

Wonderware supports multi-tier IIoT architecture, centralized deployment and commercial model ideal for high volume data collection from tens of thousands of edge devices.

1. Reducing Cost of Edge Device Management

IIoT enables organizations to cost-effectively extend equipment lifetime and improve process visibility while pushing control to the edge. But in order for IIoT applications to realize short-term ROI, it is essential that it minimize the initial implementation and cost of localized data collection in the first place. Due to the desire for larger unit volume deployments, connecting and managing edge devices needs to be as low cost as possible enabling widespread installations.

InTouch Machine Edition (ITME) is a natural extension of the Wonderware portfolio and the perfect complement for customers who already own System Platform or Wonderware Historian. It provides embedded devices, local PC-based HMIs, SCADA systems with unique functionality for connecting automation systems end-to-end.

More importantly, ITME nodes connected to System Platform will not increase the System Platform license cost. The native ITME ViewApp objects does not count against your existing System Platform runtime IO licensing regardless of number of edge devices or IOs.

The ITMEViewApp object facilitates a seamless integration of InTouch Machine Edition to System Platform and Wonderware Historian. In essence, ITME ViewApp object enables edge devices to be centralized managed, configured and monitored with your industrial IIoT platform, namely System Platform. This is especially the case for OEMs and machine builders that build embedded devices that need be cloud-enabled.

Discover how ITMEViewApp object can streamline management of edge devices below.


2. Reducing Cost of the Platform while Maximizing Value

Many point to the emerging IIoT 'outcome economy', where organizations shift from selling products to delivering measurable business outcomes. Examples of these ‘outcomes’ may include guaranteed energy savings in commercial buildings to guaranteed crop yields in a specific parcel of farmland or the promise of machine failure prevention and increased uptime.

IIoT is game change across traditional B2B and enables equipment and machine builders to adopt hybrid product-service business models. Generally these hybrid services are under-pinned on edge device diagnostics, analytics and remote monitoring and are sold on a recurring subscription or pay-as-you-go model.  The end customer pays at an agreed upon frequency.

Traditional industrial automation typically requires higher upfront capital investments, which is not ideal for the IIoT business model. As such, IIoT is forcing vendors to reimagine its business and operating models. The IIoT market requires new commercialization models that support pay-per-use and service-based offerings for faster end customer ROI.

The most common IIoT solutions will typically be a combination of capital expenditures and reoccurring subscription charges. This includes software. By leasing software, companies that could not previously afford advanced technology will be able to compete due to lower initial costs. In order to be commercially viable in the IIoT market, software vendors are focusing more intently on delivering what their clients and customers actually need or use.

Schneider Electric’s new Subscription Access Offering is more than just a platform. It offers more capability for less. In addition to expanded platform capabilities, the Subscription offering includes role-specific apps, an ecosystem of partners, built-in technical support & version updates, exclusive suite of value-add offerings, native cloud support and even unlimited visualization clients.


3. Reducing Cost of Insights for Everyone

Traditionally customers have looked to a single vendor for a complete end-to-end solution—often using closed, proprietary technologies. Today’s IIoT, with its flexibility, cost, and time-to-market advantages, is driving a shift to an open technology model where solution providers form an ecosystem of partners. As a result, each partner provides its best-of-breed capabilities to contribute to a complete solution.


IIoT is driving a new market landscape with new smaller software vendors. According to Gartner, in 2017 50% of all IoT solutions will be developed by startups. These startups are developing custom solutions or 'Apps' built on shared platform that harness the data 'generated' by the platform and edge devices.

Wonderware's new ‘App Framework’ is geared to providing new level engineering efficiency to developers and allows plug and play apps to provide new insights based on context. While having apps is nice, having context-aware framework is better because it will open up new opportunities based on hardware device platform, asset monitored, time of day, plant area, etc.

The critical requirement of any smart app framework must mandate that modern application be automatically built or stitched together with little to no engineering work.

So, when you’re looking to kick-off that big IIoT project, make sure you consider these key cost factors.