The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has the potential to give companies unprecedented business insights through an array of sensor-driven smart devices. According to a recent GSMA Intelligence report:

The industrial segment – which encompasses both IoT technology deployed within enterprises and vertical-specific applications – will make up more than half of the connections, reaching 13.8 billion, while the number of IoT connections in the consumer segment will reach 11.4 billion.

Man writing on a tablet surrounded by data graphics
The IIoT generates a large amount of data which can be overwhelming.

With more organizations adopting IIoT and smart building solutions, industrial facilities are capturing massive amounts of data through the deployment of smart sensors, with even more data to come as solutions expand. This data can provide a considerable advantage when used to measure specific business and facility goals, but can also overwhelm facility managers and blur opportunities for operational improvements.

Here are some ways to utilize IIoT-sourced data without falling victim to overload.

Start with the Basics: Why Is Your Organization Using IIoT?

Simply collecting data isn’t a path to a successful IIoT project. Rather, a successful implementation relies on a company’s ability to glean actionable knowledge from that data. “Without contextual relevance and appreciation of business value, all you have is a lot of data,” said John Ferraioli, managing director with Deloitte Consulting Setting as a part of a 2016 report. Setting clearly defined goals around what you expect the smart building solution to contribute to your organization is the first step in not getting lost in a pile of data.  

Before the project gets underway, take a step back and ask: why are you implementing an IIoT solution? What are you hoping to learn, control, and improve? The following are common opportunities to realize value from IIoT technology and the resulting data:

  • Increase energy savings and drive sustainability with sensor-equipped LED fixtures and advanced controls
  • Automate code compliance and increase employee safety through environmental monitoring
  • Unlock activity-based costing to know how much you are spending on non-energy utilities
  • Maximize space utilization in work and storage areas through occupancy patterns
  • Implement preventative maintenance programs with verified machine usage data
  • Track activity and/or assets across specific areas within your facility, through sensor-sourced heatmaps

Depending on your intended application, some datasets may be more important than others. A McKinsey report highlights this point perfectly when explaining how an oil rig with 30,000 IIoT-enabled sensors only used one percent of its recorded data. The rig was predominately using the data readings to spot anomalies which, in most cases, signaled a malfunction. In addition to using the IIoT for monitoring, if the rig wanted to install sensor-embedded LED lighting fixtures with advanced controls to lower its energy spending, it would need to analyze more of the gathered data in order to illustrate a pattern indicative of energy savings.

Consistency Over Time: How Will You Baseline Data and Measure Against Your Goals?

As sensor-sourced solutions become more common, data can automatically be recorded and archived through IIoT-enabled software platforms such as SiteWorxwhich includes a suite of solutions to track and verify facility conditions, lighting usage, power metering, occupancy patterns, and more. In this case, smart sensors placed throughout a facility by way of intelligent LED lighting fixtures and connected standalone sensors capture the data and transmit it to SiteWorx where it is curated for your use.

Man looking at laptop screen with hands on keyboard
IIoT-enabled software platforms like, SiteWorx, track, verify and organize important data insights.

With both real-time and historical facility data in one, secure place, you can dive into in-depth comparisons between machines, areas, and sites using intuitive graph, line and chart displays. Even better, the automation of reliable data collection frees up your employees–who have likely been manually tracking numbers on a clipboard or tablet–to spend less time trying to identify problems, and more time solving them or creating new value opportunities.

Build an IIoT Data Team: Are Key Stakeholders and Vendors on the Same Page?

As you prepare to pilot an IIoT project, it is important to assemble a cross-functional team with representatives from various departments such as IT, operations, product development, and high-level executives like CIOs and CTOs. This may seem like a superfluous task but it can help align overall company goals with smart building initiatives. Christian Renaud, Research Director of the IoT practice at 451 Research recently spoke to ZDNet on this topic.“The successful IoT deployments are the ones where they had broad stakeholder buy-in at the executive level,” Renaud said. “It wasn’t IT or the business going it alone.”

Keeping your team updated on the latest project data allows stakeholders to explain the significance of certain data insights that were not relevant to individual stakeholders and, can bring to light additional use cases for IIoT solutions within the company.

Overhead view of business people around table working
Assembling a cross-functional team made up of internal stakeholders and external vendors, can help you negotiate IIoT challenges.

Building a strong internal IIoT team is a good start but, most companies still need an external vendor to help them set up, run and analyze their smart building data insights. A 2016 survey of Chief Innovation Officers, revealed that less than a third of IT Executives were confident in their current ability to accommodate the scale and scope of IIoT data integration. External vendors can assist in smart building solution implementation, insight tracking and leveraging data to reach business goals. They can also suggest additional ways to improve processes using the data from your smart building system. In one food processing plant, the production manager kept the lights above the conveyor belts on 24 hours a day at 100 percent output for safety reasons, even though the area was not in use around the clock. Through intelligent LED fixtures and advanced, IIoT-based lighting controls, the production manager was able to implement occupancy-based strategies like task tuning and progressive dimming to realize significant savings on lighting energy costs while maintaining both productivity or safety.

Whether companies use a fraction of their industrial data or the majority of it, IIoT solutions can bring order to data overload and provide a deeper, more nuanced understanding of what’s happening in a facility at any time.

What are you doing to keep data overload at bay?

Learn how SiteWorx, Digital Lumens’ IIoT and smart building platform, instruments industrial facilities to collect and analyze data, and helps our customers achieve new insights and efficiencies.

Learn More About SiteWorx