Is IIoT Bad for Business?

I have been conducting a number of interviews in preparation for ARC’s upcoming research study on the Machine Vision market. One supplier offered an insight which runs counter to a lot of the conventional wisdom about the Industrial Internet of Things, so I thought I’d explore it here. For this particular supplier, business was tepid in 2015. The supplier claimed that many of its customers are delaying capital expenditures because they are unclear of the magnitude of IIoT’s impact and if it will fundamentally change purchasing requirements.

Does this makes sense? Something like this plays out every day in consumer markets. I had a conversation recently with my father about getting a new iPhone (he has a 4s), as he just became eligible for a free upgrade. However, with the likely release of the iPhone 7 sometime in the fall, it seems prudent to defer until this new model is available. Why “settle” for a perfectly functional iPhone 6 when something better is right around the corner? Will his requirements change that dramatically? Just how much of an upgrade will the iPhone 7 actually be? What if the iPhone 7 is buggy at the beginning and needs to be patched? There is a merry-go-round of assumptions present in this scenario.

According to this machine vision supplier, a negative consequence of this period of evaluation in the vision market, is that overall market growth may actually slow in the short term. But longer-term outlooks are far rosier; even if there is a small blip as users alter their buying cycles, IIoT will be decidedly positive for machine vision.

ARC believes vision technology will be a key enabler for accessing more data during production runs. Too often in the market, the data drawn from vision solutions is analyzed and processed but not stored.  Leveraging the vision sensor, smart camera, or vision system as an Internet of Things device will allow manufacturers to extend the usefulness of their data beyond real-time quality inspection.  Data collected from the camera will be backed up to the cloud, allowing for long-term tracking and record-keeping of production trends. This merging of machine vision with Big Data and analytics will provide an engine for industry growth.

Is there a calm before the storm in your industry?  Let me know if you are seeing the kind of dampening effect this supplier talked about – and let me know if that’s not the case.


  1. There are always laggards just as there are always early adopters. The largest segment is in the middle. They want to see someone else go first. As a supplier, you have no choice but to stay ahead or you won’t be ready when the mainstream buyers are ready.

  2. Scott,
    We at ProSensus ( have just been talking to your colleague, Peter Reynolds, about our BIG Data software and the unique optimization solutions embedded within it to allow clients to optimize their processes based on models built only from historical data.
    We also have a very viable imaging division (ProVision) that specializes in handling difficult multi-spectral imaging problems that are usually too difficult for other machine vision companies to handle. For example our systems extract multiple quality features for Frito Lay’s Doritos, etc. and are used in feedback controllers to control these features. Our BaleGuard product images all 6 sides of each rubber bale and quantifies multiple defects and rejects bales with combinations of defects above certain levels. Our clients have also used the stored defect time series to uncover the sources of the defects by then using our BIG data software to relate these back to process conditions in various parts of the plants. That has proven to be the real value.

    On your question of delaying purchasing of these systems, certainly the state of the industry at the time affects this (eg the rubber industry is at overcapacity now), but companies still seem to be looking beyond this and ordering systems now to solve their known quality issues.

  3. Tell your father to get an iPhone SE. I just reluctantly had to replace my iPhone 5 with a 6. I liked the compact size of the 5 but the 6 was the only option… until 2 weeks later when the SE appeared.
    Moral of the the story: Whatever you decide things change so rapidly today that you can easily second guess your own decisions and re-think. Therefore the only way forward is to be agile and flexible. For industrial suppliers this raises a big challenge – how to be agile and flexible while keeping the core of your offer reliable and secure to ensure longevity and customer satisfaction. That is why suppliers in this space bring special value to their customers – because they know how to do this.