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Lessons From the Field: The Importance of an ROI-driven Framework for Industry 4.0 and IIoT

by Omar Aziz Ahmed
11 min read

A significant part of my role at HiveMQ involves collaborating with innovation teams from Fortune 500 companies to help enterprises adopt MQTT to accelerate transformative business outcomes. In fact, I've dedicated the past eight years to this work. 

Often, a proof of concept (POC) or an initial use case is enough to convince teams to explore a product or service based on the expected return on investment (ROI). This assumption is typically backed by data from research, community feedback, and basic testing with free resources. Initial POCs are funded projects with clearly defined goals and scopes. 

Building ROI Into a POC Plan

ROI is a complex topic that often involves comparing current processes with potential new ones. It's also important to consider the consequences of not adopting a particular process or solution. While calculating ROI involves many factors, we can start by understanding these basic concepts. 

In essence, ROI often reflects the cost of not innovating. Innovation is a catalyst for ROI, as learning and improvement can themselves be considered returns on investment in most cases.

From my experience, I've seen POCs take various paths. Some POCs have well-defined objectives and succeed, especially those driven by specific use cases. Use case-driven POCs that are more straightforward to understand and deliver. For instance, a use case-driven approach could involve feeding operational technology (OT) data into an analytics model to identify trends. With the use case in mind, the team can then choose the right framework and architecture that will best allow them to find trends. Knowing the use case upfront also helps align stakeholders and key objectives. 

However, I've also witnessed POCs that never get off the ground despite securing funds and acquiring software. Bureaucracy and competing resources often hinder these POCs from even starting. 

Most POCs fall somewhere in between these extremes. This is where ROI becomes critical, particularly when considering scalability. ROI serves as a benchmark for the business that can be linked to the technology. 

Measuring ROI Using Time as Your Metric

It's sometimes challenging to grasp that ROI can be measured in numerous ways. One such metric is time.

Time is a key factor in ROI measurement and can be approached in various ways, such as measuring the time to:

  • Access data from systems and databases

  • Install and use a product

  • Connect and share data between systems

  • Train employees on using the technology

  • Get back up and running after issues like security breaches or downtime

This multifaceted nature of ROI highlights its complexity. By focusing solely on time, we encounter numerous possibilities. We can consider time in terms of accessing data, feeding an analytics model, or observing trends from the model. It can also relate to the time needed to share data between systems or to train employees on using one technology compared to another. Moreover, there's the opportunity cost associated with unforeseen issues, which can be substantial. Downtime and data breaches are potential risks, and understanding their opportunity costs is crucial. This underscores the importance of ROI in decision-making.

Helpful ROI Measurement with MQTT

MQTT plays a crucial role in facilitating communication between devices, sensors, and systems, which can contribute to various aspects of your Industry 4.0 use cases that impact ROI. Here are ways in which MQTT can provide ways to measure the ROI of an IIoT system:

  • Real-time data collection: MQTT enables real-time data transmission between devices and the IIoT platform. This timely data collection allows for quick response to events, reducing downtime and improving overall system efficiency. Real-time data is valuable for making informed decisions, optimizing processes, and identifying areas for improvement, all of which can contribute to ROI.

  • Reduced latency and better responsiveness: MQTT's lightweight protocol and publish/subscribe model facilitate low-latency communication. This responsiveness is critical in applications where timely actions can lead to cost savings or operational efficiency improvements. Reduced latency can positively impact ROI by enabling faster decision-making and response times.

  • Scalability and flexibility: MQTT's scalable and flexible architecture allows for easy integration of new devices and sensors into the IIoT system. This scalability is important as it accommodates the growth of the system, supporting additional data sources without significant reconfiguration. Scalability can contribute to long-term ROI by ensuring that the IIoT system remains adaptable to evolving business needs.

  • Energy efficiency: MQTT's lightweight nature contributes to energy-efficient communication, making it suitable for devices with limited power resources. This is particularly relevant in industrial settings where devices may be distributed across a wide area. Energy-efficient communication can lead to cost savings and improved sustainability, factors that may positively impact the overall ROI.

  • Reliability and Quality of Service (QoS): MQTT supports different levels of Quality of Service (QoS), allowing for reliable message delivery even in challenging network conditions. This reliability is crucial in industrial environments where disruptions can lead to operational inefficiencies. Improved reliability can contribute to cost savings by minimizing the impact of communication failures on production processes.

  • Data security and integrity: MQTT supports security features such as Transport Layer Security (TLS) and authentication mechanisms, ensuring the integrity and confidentiality of data exchanged between devices. Enhanced security measures can mitigate the risk of data breaches, system failures, and other security-related incidents.

Learn More About ROI for Industry 4.0 and IIoT Use Cases

The journey to success with Industry 4.0 use cases is paved with good intentions and recently, shrinking budgets. In a recent survey of 350 IoT professionals, over a third said a key challenge for implementing IIoT systems is a lack of budget and uncertain ROI. For myself and my teammates at HiveMQ, we want to partner with our customers to help them create the ROI framework that will drive better efficiency and productivity for their business. 

We put together a presentation to help people build an IIoT system that proves ROI. Watch the one-hour webinar to better understand how you can:

  • Show ROI immediately with a small proof of concept 

  • Build use cases that will save costs or increase revenue 

  • Use better quality data to improve and scale to increase ROI exponentially

  • Examine different KPIs to show ROI, like OEE, predictive maintenance, asset utilization, energy efficiency and more

Watch the On-Demand Webinar

Omar Aziz Ahmed

Omar Aziz Ahmed, Enterprise Account Executive at HiveMQ, leverages over a decade of technology sales expertise to address complex customer challenges. With the last 7 years dedicated to industrial software, focusing on IIoT, Digital Transformation, and Industry 4.0, Omar plays a pivotal role at HiveMQ. His current focus is to help enterprises adopt MQTT to accelerate transformative business outcomes.

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