The impedance mismatch in industrial IoT
Impedance mismatch is a phenomenon well known to electrical and physical engineers, but also to physiologists, audiologists and many other categories.
A very, very approximate and colloquial definition of impedance mismatch could be the non-correspondence between what one wants and what one gets from a system.
So, how does this concept relate to the industrial sector of the Internet of Things?
Impedance mismatch is what prevents you from getting an ideal IIoT solution from the customer’s point of view. And this often happens when the roll-out project is not evaluated in its entirety, with a holistic approach. In addressing a new IIoT project, our first approach is to listen to the customer and try to understand the immediate and future requirements of a IIoT service, design a service strategy that meets the requirements and propose a solution that includes all components of the IIoT value chain: sensors or devices, a robust communications infrastructure, a reliable application infrastructure and security. If you take each component separately, even if you choose the best in its class, you will find yourself having some “friction” between the components. And this friction is another element of impedance misalignment and frustration for the customer. In addition, by focusing on specific components in detail, it is easy to underestimate the challenge posed by practical requirements. An example of a detail that can radically change how a IIoT solution is designed would be the simple question: are your devices battery powered? How long should the battery last while maintaining an acceptable level of service? Can the battery be easily recharged? If not, what is the cost of replacing the battery? Is it worth it?
But brilliantly solving the power problem is not in itself a guarantee of successful implementation of the IIoT. There is a ton of low-level details that can (and will) affect the outcome of the overall application, which is why, choosing the best components for a complex system will not spare you from the risk of impedance mismatch.
Although supported by an aggressive marketing budget, no single technology and no specific product alone will be enough to implement an industrial-grade IoT service.
So, how do you address this conundrum? Although there is no simple answer to this question, a good starting point would be the identification of best practices.
And that’s what we’ll be working on in the near future.