Tech Terms Today – What Buzzword Was That?

Buzzwords have always been a part of technology but recently it seems the usage has exploded. At the same time usage is growing, the terms themselves have changed and evolved. Many contemporary terms now include a wide spectrum of meaning in their definitions, applying to new applications and solutions brought to market. From our perspective here at Capstone Technology, the more we can all talk a common language and the more we realize many terms are replacing old concepts, the better off we will be.

With that in mind, off we go. The following thoughts are coming from our vantage point here at Capstone, others may have a different points of view. One thing we think is clear – if you want to see the future, go visit your nearest modern process industry plant. Please let us know what you think!

Industry 4.0 – Originating in Germany, Industry 4.0 is simply the idea that we’re now in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Many articles have laid out the various revolutions, Wikipedia being the most comprehensive: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industry_4.0) Industry 4.0 is also one of many terms used to describe the continued technology advancements in manufacturing. The terminology below defines the elements that comprise Industry 4.0.

Internet of Things (IoT) – Probably the most ubiquitous term we’re currently seeing to describe the latest technology advancements to connect all things. In many contexts, I0T encompasses IIoT (see below), but for the sake of this article and in future discussions, we separate the two. We’re defining IoT as a focus on the consumer market, where there are distinct differences. The advancements can be thought of as:

  1. Revolutionary – a few years ago my thermostat was totally isolated and my watch told time
  2. Important, Not Mission Critical – They make our lives more convenient but if my thermostat goes offline my house can still stay warm. Given that it’s fine to rely on our home WIFI system.
  3. Connected Devices – we primarily see devices that used by isolated, become connected to the internet

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – So, what does the extra “I” mean? Well, in our view, a lot. As this relates to technology advancements that focus on industrial processes (i.e. plants). In the IIoT space the advancements can be thought of as:

  1. Evolutionary – Industrial plants became connected over 30 years ago. The first ‘Distributed Control System’ is credited to Texaco back in 1959. Sure, new technology has made it easier for remote and disparate processes to get connected but the technology and concepts have been around a long time.
  2.  Mission Critical – These systems have to work, so the network and infrastructure built around them are robust and secure.
  3.  Connected Data – Especially for vendors like us, it’s about connecting data that always been there, thereby making it faster and easier to make decisions.

Analytics – This one gets used frequently in the world of data analysis and certainly means different things to different people. Broadly speaking, we see three types of analytics. To illustrate these distinct variations we will use the weather as an analogy.

  1. Descriptive Analytics – Analysis of data from the past (even if it is from a few seconds ago). When using descriptive analytics, individuals are still evaluating data and making decisions, they are gathering and synthesizing multiple instruments to tell you in simple language the current weather & historical conditions. Today it has been cloudy. There was a chance of rain.
  2. Predictive Analytics – Predictive analytics uses more complex analysis, including a time-predictive model. Predictive Analytics for weather would state the following: A Model Predicts Scattered showers this afternoon. Winds will be from the north at 10 miles an hour. Temperatures in the 40s.
  3. Prescriptive Analytics – Includes everything from the predictive model, but also needs more context. Prescriptive analytics for weather would state the following: First, I needs to know a few things about you, where you work and what you do for work. Bring a light coat and umbrella with you to work this morning. The wet roads will require more time to travel. You will need to leave for work by 7:52 to make your 8:30 meeting.

All in all, our conclusion is that tech industry buzzwords are necessary to navigate today’s technology landscape, especially in the process industry where systems and technologies are constantly evolving. Stay tuned for more buzzword definitions coming in future editions of PARCfocus newsletter!