European Perspectives on Industrial Internet
This is my third in a series of commentaries from a European trip that took me to Switzerland, Germany, and Poland in mid-November. In Warsaw, I met staff of Poland-based U.S. subsidiaries for a formal discussion of the Industrial Internet. A blend of large and mid-level companies, all members of the American Chamber of Commerce, provided the appropriate sounding board for the increasingly voguish theme of Industrie 4.0 (see my previous report on this issue here).
Discussants generally agreed that European approaches to managing the crossroads of data, analytics, and manufacturing involved government support reminiscent of industrial policies. Some have questioned the efficiency of striving for generic solutions to internet-enabled manufacturing. A manager from a very large IT company admitted that some early European “proof-of-concept” ideas were still based too rigidly on theoretical models rather than on incremental innovation. One discussion strand veered into standardization. Unlike just a few years ago, current European thinking shies away from a quick search and adoption of standards. Rather, the Europeans have now come round to the U.S.-based view as espoused by the Industrial Internet Consortium. It proposes that various standards should compete for acceptance but that their formal adoption should be left to the various (preferably non-governmental) standards organizations.
The MAPI Foundation will continue following the Industrial Internet and carry out a dialogue with its European stakeholders.