Another megatrend has hit the power generation industry: the Internet of Things (IoT)—countless devices with embedded electronics, sensors, and connectivity to digitally communicate with another and their human owners. The IoT generates more data than most asset owners can warehouse on their own—hence the moniker “big data”—and requires sophisticated analytics (see the sidebar “What’s Analytics?”) in order to derive benefits from that data. It also often involves “the cloud”—broadly speaking, Internet-connected nonlocal data centers and computing services provided by third parties.
When applied to the power industry, the preferred buzzword is becoming the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), in recognition that industrial data feeds can account for more data, at higher volumes, and with more critical implications than data from the consumer IoT, which consists of everything from merchant payment processing to fitness wristband data.
When a new trend or technology hits an industry, you can be sure that just about everyone jumps on the bandwagon. Over the past few months, pitches and press releases about the IoT have proliferated in POWER’s inbox. Some of the flurry, I suspect, is in response to General Electric’s (GE’s) late September 2015 introduction of its Digital Power Plant and its broader Industrial Internet platform, Predix. More on those later. POWER isn’t in a position to provide due diligence evaluations of vendors’ claims, but we can give you a sense of the evolving landscape.