The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) refers to the integration of connected devices and advanced analytics in an industrial setting to improve operational efficiency, productivity and decision-making. IIoT leverages smart devices and real-time analysis to utilize data generated by traditional machines, enabling manufacturers to monitor and control industrial processes in real-time; predict and prevent equipment failures; improve operational efficiency and productivity; make data-driven decisions; automate and optimize operations; and enhance safety and security.
Just five years ago, the concept of IIoT was still in its infancy and many industrial organizations were just beginning to explore its potential. The technology was not yet mature, and many companies were still struggling to understand how to integrate IIoT into their operations.
But the global IIoT market has grown significantly since then and is now valued at $394 billion – up from $72 billion in 2018. It shows no signs of slowing down, either; by 2028, the market is forecasted to grow to $1.11 trillion. This growth highlights the industry’s increasing adoption of cloud computing and advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), as well as the rising demand for automation and digitization in industrial processes.
To get a pulse on IIoT coverage in technology and business press publications, we performed a 12-month audit. Utilizing MuckRack, we searched for publications and reporters covering IIoT from January 1, 2022, to December 31, 2022. We then filtered the results by language and by region so that we could focus on English-only coverage in North America. We also excluded earnings/financial coverage and press release syndications. From those results, we were able to identify the top publications are reporters most frequently covering IIoT.
Top Publications and Reporters Covering IIoT
Top Publications and Reporters Covering IIoT
It comes as no surprise that the top five publications are Manufacturing Tomorrow, Automation.com, Control Engineering Magazine, IIoT World and Canadian Manufacturing. Top reporters at these publications include Chris Vavra, David Greenfield, Mark Hoske and Renee Basset.
The bulk of the coverage is driven by product and company news. Beyond news, reporters are largely focusing on specific technologies within IIoT—most notably AI, ML, digital twins and edge computing—and individual use cases such as predictive maintenance, asset tracking and maintenance, process optimization, energy management and security.
But catching a reporter’s eye requires more than simply pitching a use case or technology. What reporters are really interested in is how these use cases are changing the game for industrial organizations. For example, pitching a reporter on “the benefits of predictive maintenance” will likely be overlooked because it’s too general and vague. But a pitch discussing “how manufacturers can use predictive maintenance to decrease downtime and meet skyrocketing demand” will have a far better chance of standing out in a reporter’s inbox and piquing their interest.
Top Influencers Covering IIoT
The discussion of IIoT topics on social media and digital spheres was another important part of our analysis. Interestingly, the top several influencers (organized by engagement and mentions of the account) are largely focused in the analyst and consultant fields, highlighting that the most valued insights in this area are by those who have worked with numerous organizations in the space.
This experience evidently provides a trusted and unique perspective, despite each influencer taking sponsored engagement opportunities in one form or another (either directly for promotion or as an add-on to more traditional analyst validation services). In fact, the most engaged-with content was branded content, discussing the value of a sponsor’s solution or featuring SME commentary. 10Fold has found that digital influencers are increasingly functioning as a type of in-between or analyst “lite” option for smaller organizations, which may make engagements attractive to those trying to increase awareness.
IIoT Coverage – Trending Topics
We also used Brandwatch, a social listening tool, to gather the top IIoT trending topics. These top terms were based on social media sites, online publications, and other mediums. The image below shows the topics most featured in IIoT coverage, with the most-covered topics being the largest and closest to the center.
As you can see, specific technologies and use cases were top coverage drivers, as evidenced by “artificial intelligence,” “machine learning,” “edge computing,” and “predictive maintenance.” The word cloud also highlights that the media is writing about IIoT as it generally relates to digital transformation, industrial automation, and the supply chain.
Brandwatch was also used to pull together an IIoT-focused word cloud based on information from social media sites, online publications, and other mediums. The image below shows the words most commonly used in IIoT coverage.
These terms provide more insight into how the media is covering IIoT. Frequently used words like “solutions,” “data,” “applications,” and “technologies” indicate that the media is interested in covering how IIoT technologies and solutions are being applied today.
IIoT Coverage in 2022
The volume of coverage fluctuated throughout the year, with notable spikes in early spring and just before the holiday season.
The majority of coverage in March was driven by company news like new product offerings, partnerships and executive appointments – which isn’t surprising given that there are a lot of tradeshows that take place in the spring and companies often push out news during those events. The increase in coverage was likely because seven serious flaws were discovered in a PTC IIoT platform. This discovery not only garnered media attention from various security publications that don’t typically cover the industrial sector, but also drove an increase in thought leadership articles from vendors on topics related to defending industrial control systems.
Following what appears to be a lull during the summer months, the spike in November coverage is likely seasonal since it’s right before the holidays kick off. Coverage in November was driven by company, product, and partner news. Trend articles tended to focus on topics surrounding network connectivity, cybersecurity, digital twins and edge computing.
Top Themes Driving Trade and Business Media Coverage
Trade media coverage around IIoT revolved around a variety of themes in 2022. One of the major themes was how different industries were leveraging IIoT to improve efficiency, productivity and safety. From food and beverage to automotive to healthcare, IIoT was used in various ways to optimize operations and gain a competitive advantage. Another key focus area was industrial cybersecurity, particularly around the increased number of connected devices in industrial settings that drove growing concerns about cyber threats and the need for robust security measures. Sustainability and energy management were also important themes, as IIoT technology can help companies reduce their environmental footprint and optimize energy usage. Additional topics that garnered media attention in 2022 included mitigating supply chain disruption, IT/OT convergence, edge computing and gaining deeper insights through AI and ML.
When it comes to business press publications, coverage of IIoT was dominated by contributed articles in paid programs like Forbes Technology Council and Fast Company Executive Council. Fast Company’s coverage included an article highlighting how IIoT is being used to improve water quality. Forbes Tech Council, on the other hand, covered IIoT in a variety of ways, including how connected devices are expanding the attack surface; how manufacturing execution systems (MES) are embracing IIoT; empowering a connected workforce with IIoT; and how IIoT provides manufacturers with the ability to access data and make better decisions.
In terms of earned media coverage, IIoT was covered in publications such as The Financial Post, which referenced it in an article about the manufacturing skills gap, and Forbes, which discussed the challenges of IIoT and OT security.
Securing IIoT Media Coverage
When it comes to securing media coverage on IIoT today, remember that reporters are more interested in talking about the individual use cases and technologies that fall under the IIoT umbrella. While IIoT once drove news cycles, the “hype cycle” of this term is well into the “plateau of productivity”, meaning that vendors must show customer adoption and tell real stories vs. “how the tech could work.” The more detail you can provide around how the technologies are being implemented, the insights they are providing and the value they are delivering to industrial organizations, the better!