The Winner in the Race for Industrial IoT Data — Manufacturer or Distributor?

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The Winner in the Race for Industrial IoT Data — Manufacturer or Distributor?

IIoT and the Changing Supply Chain

It’s becoming more common to view the changing supply chain landscape of the linear, traditional supply chain, as a digital supply network (DSN). Introducing IIoT as one of DSNs underpinnings, and implementing this concept in the context of digital transformation – although necessary – is a massive undertaking.

The resistance affiliated with this boils down to practical concern that the enterprise simply won’t meet its P&L requirements.

In effect, how can a manufacturer embark on this more interactive, less-linear endeavor when the competitive nature of IIoT and the race for data among all members of the supply chain are forcing them to move so rapidly? The answer: it’s not easy.

Is there an Answer to Who Wins the Race for Data?

Even though it’s a race among members of the supply chain, winning takes on different angles and hues depending on the participant. What’s important to the manufacturer in the race may translate differently to that of a distributor. And even though each is racing for the same customer data, the uses and outcomes may differ making the situation ripe for a win-win.

For example, the most important data for a manufacturer may be product failure rates which assist in making a better product, but a distributor may be more focused on predictive failure because providing more accurate service affords them the ability to reach their goal of true servitization. This is not to say, of course, manufacturer concierge services aren’t long term goals.

The Changing Dynamic of Winning

There are practical processes and solutions being implemented today that change the dynamic of winning. Creating a shared revenue contract model with distributors related to actionable IoT data is certainly gaining traction.

And although it sounds pedestrian to have tangible, short term goals under the umbrella of a long term strategy, weaving your way through the digital landscape of IIoT data and all the surrounding technologies is wrought with rat holes – rat holes that could end up with your organization experiencing industrial IoT purgatory.

Broadening Your IoT Lens

Whereas manufacturers implementing an IoT platform and a PaaS mention a primary pain point exists between the integration of the PaaS data and various solutions including the enterprise system, the true value becomes apparent when a more holistic approach is taken that views the manufacturer’s enterprise system as one component within the supply chain ecosystem.

The individual enterprise data integration isn’t the primary goal – it’s using and capturing enough data to be useful in generating a win-win for the manufacturer and its member distributors.

C-Suite Drinking from a Firehose

The maturation level of the various members of the supply chain vary — and will most likely, always vary. Focusing on those along the supply chain where you can offer the most value by tightening the relationships, sharing in costs as well as benefits, and providing a simple solution that is reproducible will offer the most immediate return. It will also generate essential C-level and board confidence.

One has to remember that results equal confidence. Manufacturing executives are consistently being pushed to win the race for data but often feel like they’re drinking through a firehose with no consistent, proven path of success to follow.

Winning and the Fear of Failure

From an executive standpoint, it’s okay to fear failure, and even fail – but quite helpful to set the results stage up front (Digital Transformation Failure & Four Other Things You Shouldn’t be Afraid of). What truly differentiates the winners from the laggards is the way a manufacturer approaches data that can be acted upon and the vision of how the supply chain can play an active role in success.

The competitive undercurrent between a manufacturer and its distributors is simply a push to further examine what you have in common, and where those win-wins can occur.

In the end, it’s not who wins the race– it’s simply that there may be more paths to the finish line than originally anticipated.


Kris BrannocThis article was written by Kris Brannock, the EVP of Vertical Solutions, Inc. Tech enthusiast focused on disruptive innovation in IIoT and asset-intensive service. Originally this article was published here.