By 2020 there will be 20 billion internet-connected devices in the world.

That was the estimate given to a London technology conference this week as a way of outlining the pace of the digital transformation that’s sweeping the energy, T&D and other industrial sectors.

Ronan de Hooge, chief software architect at predictive data technology company OSIsoft, said: “Back in 2008 we were talking about a world where there was roughly five billion internet-connected devices. Today, we are at around nine billion. By 2020 that’s expected to grow to 20 billion. And the trend just continues to increase.”OSIsoft software expert spotlights IIoT trends

And he stressed that all that data came in different forms: “We have a lot more heterogeneous systems. You have data that’s subject to ownership rules; it arrives at different frequencies and there’s latency involved. So it’s going to become much more complicated to take all those data sets and create a system where you can drive insights.”

Speaking at OSIsoft’s EMEA Users Conference, de Hooge also outlined how, currently, mobile devices have systems that can store “hundreds of gigabytes. By 2030 we are expecting to see something that can contain up to 60 petabytes of data – a petabyte is about something like 200,000 DVDs-worth of data.”

He added that within the same timeframe, we will see analysis systems able to predict the weather two weeks’ in advance with 99 per cent accuracy.

But he stressed that “it’s not about data storage anymore – it’s about how we reshape that data; how we structure that data so that we can create meaningful insights. How do you bring all that data into one system and contextualize it and put it in a good structure where you can actually drive decisions.”

He also talked about a shift into industry of current home-based technologies. “What we are going to see in the next few years is consumer-based technologies – like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home –start to enter the industrial and enterprise software space. Because the expectations become the same.”

The conference heard from many power companies that have utilised OSIsoft’s technology to achieve significant gains in real-time and predictive asset monitoring. These included Centrica, Uniper Technologies, Italian utility A2A (see full story here), and Poland’s PKN Orlen.

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