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Guest post by By Eddie Amos, General Manager and VP of Industrial Applications, GE Digital 

2017 was a transformative year for the industrial world. Among the highlights: GE Digital released the most comprehensive Asset Performance Management (APM) solution on the market, as recognized by Gartner. ServiceMax was recognized (for the third year in a row) as the leader in field service management. And, Apple rolled out a native SDK for Predix. We watched machines become more productive and reliable, while the sensor networks tying them together grew smarter and more ubiquitous. 

As the pace of digital industrial innovation continues to accelerate, 2018 promises to be an even more exciting year. Here are three trends to keep an eye on in the New Year.

IIoT success will hinge on OT expertise

Industrial IoT is not like consumer IoT. Monitoring a $10 million wind turbine is infinitely more complicated than tracking a person’s footsteps, and the stakes are higher. To succeed in IIoT, operators will need to partner with a provider that not only offers best-in-class sensors and software, but also has decades of operational expertise and a deep understanding of the industrial landscape. Modeling a digital twin to accurately reflect the traits and performance of a physical asset requires comprehensive knowledge of the asset, including proprietary design information available only to the original manufacturer.

As operators move beyond the basics of connecting machines to the IIoT, they’ll face the much tougher challenge of gleaning actionable insights from their data. The sheer volume of raw telemetry streams can be overwhelming, even for sophisticated companies, but with the right software and deep OT expertise, organizations will begin leveraging data to streamline asset operations and drive more informed decision making.

Augmented reality goes mainstream

Augmented reality (AR) has already established itself as an entertainment medium thanks to the success of games like Pokémon Go and Apple’s Animoji feature. In 2018, AR will finally evolve from toy to productivity tool as the underlying technology advances to the level of an enterprise-grade solution.

For industrial organizations, AR will revolutionize the delivery of field services. Technicians who operate in some of the world’s harshest environments will be able to do their jobs more safely and efficiently through the use of AR-powered mobile devices and headsets. AR, coupled with real-time data captured via IIoT, will enable field service professionals to perform inspections without needing to physically access an asset. This not only reduces downtime, but also greatly mitigates the safety hazards facing workers every day.    

Big data gives way to big insight

The digitization of industry has created vast data lakes of asset information. Most organizations lack the tools to effectively parse these large asset datasets for actionable insights or use them to drive smarter decision making. As operators complete asset digitization efforts and move on to more advanced stages in the digital journey, having the tools and knowledge to effectively use these datasets will be critical to an organization's success.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms will help standardize the flow of data from disparate locations and streamline the process of industrial data analysis. This will enable operators to not only glean deep insights into asset performance, but also lay the groundwork for the automation of everyday decision-making. Manual tasks like work order scheduling will no longer require human intervention as AI algorithms leverage real-time analytics to optimize maintenance logistics and practices.

What digital industrial technology are you most looking forward to in 2018?

This article originally appeared here.


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