Integrating IIoT and e-commerce imperative to minimise Covid-19 disruptions, experts say

The combination will also meet the growing demand for customisation of products, Deloitte’s global IoT leader tells GMIS panel

Experts speak on the topic 'Digitising Production and Digitalising Delivery' at GMIS. Courtesy GMIS
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The damage dealt by the Covid-19 pandemic to the global supply chains could be minimised by effectively merging Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications and e-commerce platforms, experts say.

The need for seamless integration between IIoT and e-commerce has become “imperative amid the disruption caused by the coronavirus”, according to speakers at a virtual panel discussion at the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit.

Besides bringing end-to-end visibility in the supply chains, it will facilitate smoother transactions in real time, said Helena Lisachuk, global IoT leader at Deloitte.

“The value, as a big enterprise, is that you can look after smaller suppliers to make sure they survive through a difficult time and can plan for the future ... you also have a direct relationship with your end customer,” she added.

The IIoT refers to inter-connected sensors and devices synchronised with industrial applications, such as manufacturing and energy management.

The global IIoT market size is expected to reach $118.4 billion (Dh434.5bn) in next five years, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 8.83 per cent, according to Bangalore-based researcher Valuates.

Ms Lisachuk said the combination of IIoT and e-commerce would also help to satisfy growing demand for customisation of products.

“You personalise your experience as much as possible on e-commerce platforms. Bringing that experience towards the industrial space, you could learn a lot from e-commerce models in terms of personalisation, customisation and distribution,” she added.

Connecting IIoT platforms and e-commerce would allow industrial machinery manufacturers to offer additional services that would enhance their future business prospects, said experts.

“Machine makers today not only provide the hardware and plug them together. They also use data to understand customer needs … additional services mean additional business and digitalisation has a big impact there,” said Eric Maiser, head of competence centre future business at VDMA - Germany’s mechanical engineering industry association.

He said it was essential that small and medium enterprises, which are often highly specialised manufacturers and play a critical role in manufacturing supply chains, build connected platforms in partnership with others.

Ensuring that SMEs are not left behind would involve collaboration between all players, especially when it comes to sharing the cost of introducing technology platforms, panelists added.

This is the third edition of GMIS, a joint initiative by the UAE and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation. The event had been scheduled to take place in Hannover in April but was cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The first edition of GMIS was held at Paris Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi in 2017 and attracted more than 3,000 leaders from government, business and civil society.