Opportunities and Challenges at the Industrial IoT Edge

Author photo: Patrick Arnold
By Patrick Arnold

Keywords: industrial IoT edge, Sustainability, ARC Advisory Group.

Executive Overview

The industrial IoT edge refers to the extension of computing and data processing capabilities to the edge of a network, closer to the data source or devices generating it. IoT edge solutions encompass both edge to cloud connectivity and edge computing. Edge to cloud connectivity refers to the seamless integration and communication between edge devices and cloud-based systems. It allows for the transmission of data collected at the edge to be securely transferred and stored in the cloud, enabling centralized analysis, long-term storage, and access from various locations. Edge computing involves processing data locally on edge devices.

Modern enterprises are increasingly investing in industrial IoT edge technology. It enables real-time data processing, analysis, and decision-making at or near the point of data generation, reducing latency, enhancing efficiency, and enabling quick responses in industrial operations. The industrial edge encompasses a range of hardware and software components that work together to support critical applications and services in industrial environments.

The industrial IoT edge market is poised for growth, fueled in part by the deployment of full-scale projects, new high-end hardware, containerization and virtualization, demand for remote and autonomous operations, and desire to meet sustainability initiatives. Industry players that can provide innovative, reliable, and scalable edge networking solutions are well-positioned to capitalize on these opportunities, and users who successfully deploy industrial IoT edge technologies will achieve improved business performance from their operations.

However, the adoption of industrial IoT edge technology faces several challenges that impede its widespread implementation. The rapidly evolving market is a complex web of hardware, software, and service providers that users must navigate to deploy their installations. Integrating new technological developments and industry standards can be daunting, and legal and regulatory hurdles create additional complications. The industrial IoT edge space is uniquely challenging due to the presence of legacy systems and islands of automation that can be costly and time-consuming to transform. Enterprises that confront and overcome these challenges will unlock the potential of industrial IoT edge technology.

Key Opportunities:

  • New technologies for mobile, remote, and autonomous operations
  • Industrial edge installations moving towards full scale deployment
  • High-end hardware unlocking new use-cases, particularly in AI
  • Containers and virtualization bring scalability and flexibility to the industrial edge
  • The industrial IoT edge is enabling sustainability and renewable energy

Key Challenges:

  • Uncertainty in a rapidly changing landscape
  • Shortage of employees with IT and OT expertise
  • Complexity of industrial IoT edge systems pose cybersecurity concerns
  • Regional differences in cloud adoption slowing IoT edge growth
  • Legal and regulatory hurdles
  • Legacy systems hinder industrial edge adoption

Opportunities at the Industrial IoT Edge

Rapid evolution of the industrial IoT edge market has fostered a realm of new opportunities for both users and suppliers. As industrial systems and processes become more digitalized and cloud usage increases, the demand for edge solutions at the operations level is increasing. Users have the potential to leverage the power of IoT edge devices to enhance operational efficiency, enable real-time data analysis, and drive innovation. Similarly, suppliers can cater to this growing market by developing and offering a wide range of devices, software, and services tailored to specific industrial needs. This dynamic landscape not only fosters technological advancements, but also sparks direct engagement and partnerships between users and suppliers, ultimately propelling the industrial edge market forward and unlocking unprecedented possibilities.

New Technologies for Mobile, Remote, and Autonomous Operations

Industries are increasingly adopting industrial IoT edge technology to enable remote access and management of critical systems and operations. With edge applications, industrial professionals can remotely monitor, control, and troubleshoot machinery, equipment, and industrial processes in real-time from anywhere. Whether it is remote monitoring of manufacturing lines, accessing, and managing industrial IoT devices, or remotely operating industrial robots, edge applications provide the necessary capabilities to bridge the gap between physical infrastructure and remote management.

The proliferation of cellular technology at the industrial edge is empowering industries to leverage remote access and management capabilities for their remote and mobile assets. Cellular networks, including the emerging 5G, offer high-speed data connectivity, wide coverage, and reliability, which make them well-suited for enabling remote access to edge devices and mobile assets. By leveraging cellular networks, industries can establish secure connections to access and control assets deployed in remote or mobile environments, such as vehicles, drones, and sensors. This enables real-time monitoring, tracking, and management of mobile assets, regardless of their location, providing industries with greater visibility and control.

Industrial Edge Installations Moving Towards Full Scale Deployment

Industrial edge deployments have matured significantly in recent years as organizations increasingly recognize their value and benefits. The initial proof of concept stage, which primarily focused on exploring the feasibility and potential of IoT edge technologies, is now transitioning to full-scale projects. This shift is driven by the growing realization that IoT edge technology can address critical challenges such as latency, bandwidth limitations, and data privacy concerns in industrial environments.

The industrial market is increasingly recognizing the benefits of edge-to-cloud integration and edge computing, driving the adoption of these technologies to enhance their operational capabilities and gain a competitive advantage. According to a 2022 ARC Technology Survey, over a third of users are deploying these technologies and almost half are in the process of evaluating them.

Industrial IoT Edge

Concurrent with this trend is the entrance of an increasing number of edge-specific applications and services. As more suppliers targeting the industrial edge enter the market, they bring with them solutions tailored to specific industrial use cases. These applications empower users to leverage IoT edge technology to optimize their operations, improve efficiency, and unlock new insights from their data. The abundance of mature and specialized edge applications further accelerates the transition from pilot projects to large-scale deployments as users can now choose from a wide range of proven solutions that meet their specific needs.


Table of Contents

  • Executive Overview
  • Opportunities at the Industrial IoT Edge
  • Industrial Edge Deployment Challenges
  • Recommendations


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