dgs_Blog_Feb15_IIoT_FNLThe Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is all the buzz in manufacturing right now. Using sensors, machine-to-machine communications and the Internet to share and access data throughout the plant–and even beyond its walls–creates tremendous opportunities for manufacturers to make better decisions and improve their operations.

Industry leaders agree that the global marketplace and manufacturing infrastructure are rapidly changing. To compete in this new environment will require U.S. manufacturers to embrace the concept of smart manufacturing. So what does this mean for in-house marketing departments and agencies responsible for marketing the products and services that help manufacturers enter the world of IIoT?

There are several communication challenges to overcome. For one, we are asking very traditional thinkers to think differently and to trust in concepts and technologies that are not yet fully understood in the industry. We are also asking them to embrace change and to move quickly to adopt new ways of operating so they do not get left behind.

Each of these challenges points to the need for us to market IIoT strategies, products and services in a manner that educates our target audiences and helps them overcome the fear and anxiety of making the leap. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Target messages to all levels within an organization.

The decision to implement strategies and technologies that allow access to data from virtually any device, any time and any place likely requires approval from the highest level in an organization. It is a bold initiative that has widespread implications and requires a mind shift at every level. With this in mind, marketers must be sure to target messages that educate all levels of an organization – from the C-suite and IT personnel to the engineers and machine operators on the shop floor.

2. Focus on the benefits.

When companies market technologies, they often bog down their customers with too many details when it’s really the benefits that are most important. When it comes to marketing IIoT, customers want to know how digital integration of their factories will improve their productivity and how it will help them to be more flexible, especially in a world where Just-In-Time manufacturing is becoming the norm. Ultimately, manufacturers want to know how collection and analysis of all this data will increase their profitability. It’s our responsibility as marketers to create that context, and the best way to do that is by focusing on the payoff to customers through the tangible benefits to their operations.

3. Show examples of IIoT in action.

Right now, IIoT seems like this really big, nebulous idea that can be overwhelming. For some shop owners, especially those who have been very successful using their current methods, making such sweeping changes may seem like too much trouble. This is particularly true if they haven’t seen overwhelming evidence that convinces them that this is the way of the future and it’s time to get serious about about embracing IIoT. Owners of smaller job shops may wonder how this new technology will effect them and how they can scale it to fit their businesses.

The best practice for marketers is to show examples of how connectivity is making a difference in other manufacturers’ facilities. Seeing specific cases of how these technologies are being used–especially by competitors–to become more agile, more productive and more profitable, is likely to motivate a shop owner to learn more about how he or she can reap those same rewards.

One great way to show examples is through case studies or customer success stories. Companies that are marketing IIoT products and services should make it a priority to share examples of their customers who are already tapped into the IIoT. Check out this IIoT Report, which compiles several examples of companies that have connected devices and machines and are using the data to transform the way they operate. It’s an interesting read and may spark a few ideas.

Here are a couple other interesting articles about IIoT and its implications for the future of manufacturing. And, if you want more information or ideas on how to market the next generation of industrial products and services, please contact us.

What is Smart Manufacturing” This article, originally published as a Time Magazine wrap, provides a good explanation of smart manufacturing.

Driving Unconventional Growth through the Industrial Internet of Things” Learn how IIoT is about more than efficiency. It’s about growth…and lots of it.

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