What is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)?


The term “the Industrial Internet of Things” is pervasive in the context of industry as digital transformation has become a business priority for many organizations. So, what is IIoT?

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), also known as the Industrial Internet, brings together critical assets, advanced predictive and prescriptive analytics, and modern industrial workers. It is the network of a multitude of industrial devices connected by communications technologies that results in systems that can monitor, collect, exchange, analyze, and deliver valuable new insights like never before. These insights can then help drive smarter, faster business decision-making for industrial companies.

IIoT has transformed industry—changing the way industrial companies operate from day-to-day. Whether it’s enabling Industrial AI to detect corrosion inside a refinery pipe, providing real-time production data to uncover additional capacity in a plant, or accelerating new product development by feeding operations and service data back into the product design cycle, IIoT—and the software solutions powered by it—are driving powerful business outcomes.

By combining machine-to-machine communication with industrial data analytics, IIoT is driving unprecedented levels of efficiency, productivity, and performance. And as a result, industrial companies in power generation, oil & gas, utilities, manufacturing, aviation, and many other industries are experiencing transformative operational and financial benefits.

The term Industrial Internet

Who coined the term Industrial Internet?

GE coined the term Industrial Internet in late 2012. Leveraging the promise of the Industrial Internet, or IIoT, GE has been driving its own digital industrial transformation.

And, based on its experience and deep technology and industry expertise, GE is helping customers accelerate their digital transformation journeys with GE Digital’s portfolio of industrial software applications that help them to solve their toughest challenges by putting industrial data to work.

With the industrial world primed for digitization, GE Digital is leveraging the power of the IIoT with software that transforms data into action by collaborating with customers, jumping into uncertainty, and applying rapid experimentation with speed and scale.

In building a world that works, we are using targeted Industrial AI technologies to transform industrial assets and systems so that they become more predictive, prescriptive, safer, intelligent and more profitable. This includes using Digital Twins, learning, living models that combine domain knowledge and physics with Industrial AI to detect, prevent, and predict critical issues in order to uncover insights that drive business value. And, the remote capabilities enabled by the Industrial Internet help critical industries manage assets, design functional systems and collect data from anywhere in the world.

IIoT solutions

How do I invest in the Industrial Internet?

For example, what if you could use advanced analytics to predict events before they happened? Asset Performance Management (APM) solutions help you increase asset reliability and availability while optimizing maintenance costs, mitigating operational risks, and reducing total cost of ownership (TCO).

  • What if you could use real-time visibility to recover production capacity and drive greater efficiency and optimization? With Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), you can digitize your manufacturing plant or factory with insights that optimize your processes.
  • What if you could help your operators know the right actions to take every time? That’s where next-generation HMI/SCADA solutions can help you drive smart operator decisions with model-based high-performance HMI for faster response and development.

These IIoT solutions are helping companies drive big gains in productivity, availability, and longevity—making digital transformation for industrial organizations possible.


The Industrial Internet vs. Internet of Things

One perspective is to think of the Industrial Internet as connecting machines and devices in industries such as oil and gas, power generation, and healthcare, where there is more at stake or where system failures and unplanned downtime can result in life-threatening or high-risk situations. On the other hand, the Internet of Things tend to include consumer-level devices such as heart monitoring fitness bands or smart home appliances. They are functional and can provide conveniences but do not typically create emergency situations if downtime were to occur.

For example, Digital Twin is a great example of how the Industrial Internet enables machines that “tell” operators how to optimize productivity or detect a failure before it occurs, potentially saving companies billions of dollars a year. On the other hand, the Internet of Things includes connected refrigerators that can purchase more milk and eggs online before they run out.

As the Industrial Internet connects critical machines, it can deliver powerful financial and operational outcomes. For example, one of our customers, a power company saves $.5MM annually by using our APM solution for predictive analytics to gain asset, plant and fleet reliability. A manufacturing customer increased capacity by 20% and reduced lead time to customer delivery, and improved traceability by leveraging our MES solutions.

As more and more data is created from increasingly connected machines, systems, and devices, the volume of critical and valuable insights to be realized and acted upon is limitless.

Accelerate your IIoT journey

Are you ready to accelerate your IIoT journey?

No matter where you are on your Industrial Internet journey, industrial software can deliver breakthrough business outcomes with simplicity, speed, and scale. Empower today’s modern industrial workers, become more predictive and profitable with Industrial AI based solutions, and transform your business to solve your toughest challenges by putting industrial data to work. We can help.

Colin Parris, PhD, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, GE Digital