If you follow the media coverage of the Industrial Internet (of Things), you may already have realized that reporters and vendors alike have become a bit angry about the slow adoption of the concept and its associated products and services. Why are plant managers slow to jump on a bandwagon that promises breakthrough grows in productivity and revenue, and threatens doom if you don’t? A recent survey among asset owners provides answers.

In 2015, Germany’s software and network vendors association Bitkom did a survey where 500 asset owners in various industries where asked about their position towards the Industrial Internet, or Industry 4.0 as it is called in Germany. The answers are enlightening.

  • When asked what they saw as an obstacle for adopting the IIoT, almost half of the respondents (46%) cited security concerns
  • 38% said in response to the same question that the economic benefits of the endeavour were unclear
  • Another question put a spotlight on the asset owners’ security concerns: Asked about risks that will likely increase with the IIoT, 87% responded with cyber attacks, and 75% with the overall risk of malware in the corporate network (multiple answers allowed).
  • Asked what the biggest challenges for moving to the Industrial Internet are, 88% saw effective protection against cyber attacks either as the biggest or a big challenge, leading the list of all possible challenges.

Are asset owners to stupid to understand the alleged benefits of the IIoT? If you live on the plant floor, either as an engineer, plant manager, or consultant, you might rather believe that they understand the concept with all its implications much better than vendors and the media who are enthusiastic about it. Until vendors have managed to credibly address the all but trivial cyber security aspects of total connectivity, the Industrial Internet will remain a tough sell for good reasons.