You raise an interesting point in your introducing statement Al. the focus of design is really shifting towards the development of internet of things devices and as an IoT expert and enthusiast, I know how much it takes in the form of collaboration to bring any such serious device to life. Any design engineer with any hope of having some serious space in future must really start considering how he or she is going to figure into the big picture.
I can see it now, when a lot of folks who really don't have an adequate level of understanding get their fingers into controlling the manufacturing process. I see disasters far greater than what has been experienced previously, as managers push to either increase production just a bit or reduce costs a bit by skimping on something vital. And while the IT people are good at a lot of things they can probably arrange to gather enough data to bury every one of us under a thousand feet of useless data. The only actual value of data is it's ability to be condensed into informnation, which reduces the volume by many orders of magnitude at the same time that it increases the value. The actual value of information is that it can be condensed and combined to form knowledge, which then is able to provide insight and understanding, which is why all of that data is collected in the first place. Of course the IT sector should be able to provide a bunch of useful tools, but the conversion of information to knowledge and insight is a function that simply can't be done by a computer, at least not anything anrond at this time. And we certainly should hope that a computer able to debvelope insight is never created, since it would certainly cause a lot of problems for us.
IoT, Big Data and Analytics (and doing something about it) are sybiotically linked. When we act on our analytics, it leads to more mining of big data which requires more Things to provide that data. While the 3 are technically very different they must be treated holistically.
Excellent post Al. I feel so much can be accomplished by addressing the integration of IT and manufacturing. We are looking at the "tip of the ice burg" as far as possibilities. The big issue, as I see it, is corporate; i.e. management, "buy-in". Maybe "lean" will help as companies try to find ways to save money and yet meet production rates. Hopefully I'm around to see the impact of wireless when it is fully integrated onto the production floor.
Al, the IoT is one of the big drivers in the whole Big Data revolution. Data is a part of the puzzle. It also impacts other areas such as Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) which can benefit from a greatly expanded set of inputs. There are really two stages of dealing with the IoT. One is the generation stage. This will require standards to enable interoperability and efficiency. This is primarily the realm of the engineer. The other is consumption. This is where the involvement if IT is critical. Once all that data has been generated, it needs to be processed and acted upon. Sometimes in real time, other times in a more analytical manner. This is an exciting time for anyone who like to deal with large numbers. The projection for the IoT is over 50 Billion decvices connected in the near future. This is where things can get very interesting.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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