IIoT: What information are customers asking integrators for?

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is an important strategy for manufacturers. What are your customers asking you about IIoT, and how are you reaching out to them with information?

By CFE Media December 18, 2016

The 2016 System Integrator Giants (tallied by system integration revenue by Control Engineering and Plant Engineering, CFE Media) were asked questions about industry trends, including Industrial Internet of Things. See responses from some of the integrators, along with their rankings in the tally, below. 

Q: The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is an important strategy for manufacturers. What are your customers asking you about IIoT, and how are you reaching out to them with information?

Bill Pollock

President and CEO

Optimation Technology, Inc.

Rush, N.Y.

#28 on the 2016 System Integrator Giants List

IIoT is important but not near to universal acceptance or implementation. There are two major issues holding it back. One is cost, and the second availability of commercially available IIoT solutions. Many systems continue with HART [highway addressable remote transducer] and older communications strategies. Mark Hoffman President Automation & Control Concepts St. Louis, Mo. #44 on the 2016 System Integrator Giants List There is lots of talk but not very many projects with real ROI [return on investment] coming out of customers.

Michael Kershaw


Crossmuller Technology Pty Ltd.

Sydney, Australia

#87 on the 2016 System Integrator Giants List

We hear the buzzword at conferences and in the media, but very little in the real world of our customers.

Mukund Muley

Managing Director

Cotmac Electronics Pvt Ltd

Pune, India

#12 on the 2016 System Integrators Giants List

IIoT is a buzzword today. In order to make the plant more efficient, more and more customers want to connect their shop floor to the "top floor." It means seamless and real time data from the machines is available, and the decision making becomes fast and accurate. Although the customer as of today is not aware of the tangible benefits from this integration, he is ready to invest on experimental basis and wait for the results. He is offering typically a sample plant or part of machines to get connected. However, it means once the benefits are reaped by the customers, they will not hesitate to invest more in IIoT. Other concerns about the same is the IIoT platform on [the] cloud because of cybersecurity issues [the] customer is preferring to have the platform within his premises. Most of the large companies are already gearing up for the IIoT, SIs are approaching small and medium enterprises, where in the scope for automation and integration is more and the need is more.

Michael Lindley

Vice President

Concept Systems Inc.

Albany, Ore.

#20 on the 2016 System Integrators Giants List

We have yet to see big investments in the IIoT from our customer base. More common, we see companies evaluating how a new purchase or a controls retrofit will prepare them for the IIoT. While companies are recognizing the many benefits that IIoT will bring-machines that can report real-time data, alert operators to problems before they happen, and support preventative/proactive maintenance strategies-they also recognize the risk involved with opening up their manufacturing floors to the Internet. Our current messaging focuses on preparation, risk management, and encouraging companies to ensure that any new investments prepare them for the future.

Zoran Šoškić

Engineering Manager


Beograd, Serbia

#43 on the 2016 System Integrator Giants List

Unfortunately, we live and operate in a country that is somewhat technologically backward, so most of our customers do not have the understanding of IIoT, nor do they see the advantages of it. We are here to satisfy the customer, but so far we didn’t have many requests with regards to IIoT. So far, we’ve had the opportunity to connect a large number of signals via Internet in complex industrial systems, especially in mining machines and water treatment systems. That’s the closest we get to implementing IIoT in our projects. However, we don’t do such things as smart buildings. Maybe in the future it will change, once the market we are presently in is ready for that.

Todd Williams

Vice President


Walled Lake, Mich.

#2 on the 2016 System Integrator Giants List

Our customers don’t really refer to things as IIoT, but most projects that we are completing would fall within the definition of IIoT. In fact, system integration providers have been performing projects that support an IIoT world for many years now. Many of the architectures, design approaches, and past software platforms that integrators have created were always ready for devices that could be traceable to an IP address. They were just disguised as nodes on a fieldbus network. As far as reaching out to our clients, we continue to recommend the best products and approaches for their particular applications, which include IIoT components.

Rafael Pezzella

Sales Manager

IASTECH Automação de Sistemas Ltd

Sao Paulo, Brazil

#65 on the 2016 SI Giants List

They have been asking for MES [manufacturing execution systems] and cloud-based solutions.

Matthew Burton, PE

Corporate Director of Automation Technology

Hargrove Controls + Automation

Mobile, Ala.

#46 on the 2016 Systems Integrator Giants List

Customers are very interested in IIoT, and we are starting to see requests from multiple industries. However, security of data and architecture around how to implement these systems are major concerns for our clients. Through Hargrove’s systematic approach, we are able to address these concerns and integrate each project into our client’s total assets while maintaining industry best practices.

PC Romano


Avid Solutions

Winston-Salem, N.C.

#37 on the 2016 System Integrator Giants List

Many of our customers are asking basic questions about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) starting with "What is it?" They are not sure at this point how to separate the marketing of the IIoT from the reality of how it can be used to benefit their companies. In response to this, we have been actively educating our customers using a variety of avenues including presentations, blog articles, and a webinar that featured IIoT experts from our own company as well as thought leaders from IBM and Schneider Electric. We have other customers who have the vision of the IIoT and are looking for inexpensive pervasive sensing devices as promised by the marketing. Unfortunately, these smart devices are only just now trickling into the industry. On the bright side, because of the slow rate of progression to date, it leaves much room for innovation and opportunity.

David Ziskind

Automation and System Integration

The Dennis Group LLC

Duluth, Ga.

#62 on the 2016 System Integrator Giants List

IIoT has been a hot topic among systems integrators for several years now, but the actual adoption and usage among manufacturers has been slow. While most clients are generally aware of IIoT, we have received very few inquiries. As with any new application or paradigm shift, early adopters will navigate and address the initial challenges and then the pace of adoption will grow exponentially.

Nigel James

Director of Business Development & Chief Strategic Officer

Burrow Global LLC

Houston, TX.

#14 on the 2016 System Integrator Giants List

This has not been a major impact of our capital slate of projects so it has not been a priority yet. There are significant security issues that need to be resolved before major chemical and refining companies will embrace this technology for cybersecurity reasons.

Brent McPhail


Brave Control Solutions

Windsor, Ontario

#71 on the 2016 System Integrator Giants List

Systems integrators have been installing IIoT systems with ENet IP or ProfiNet for years. To me, the IIoT is a global movement for manufacturing to get smarter, and smarter is always better. When our customers come to us looking to upgrade and retrofit their existing equipment they want to ensure that, as the IIoT continues to develop and expand, the systems and solutions we are putting in place for them will allow them to easily adapt and grow with the movement, so all of our solutions are developed with future growth and expansion and adoption of the IIoT in mind.

Author Bio: Since its founding in 2010, CFE Media and Technology has provided engineers in manufacturing, commercial and industrial buildings, and manufacturing control systems with the knowledge they need to improve their operational efficiency. CFE delivers the right information at the right time around the world through a variety of platforms.