IoT vs IIoT

IoT, Internet of Things, is often referred to a “smart” object or “things” connected to the internet. Everything from home thermostats, appliances to cars, garage door openers and light switches that connect to the internet, sending and receiving data, essentially connecting the physical world to the digital world are considered as smart object.

There is another similar term called IIoT, that stands for Industrial Internet of Things. Both concepts, Iot and IIoT, are similar and have at the edge, available, intelligent and connected devices. The difference between the two is their use cases. While IoT is most commonly used for consumer usage, IIoT is used for industrial purpose such as utilities, manufacturing, supply chain monitoring and remote asset management systems. This illustration below will give you clearer picture about both concepts.

Use Cases

IoT is developed with the concept of using smart devices to improve consumer convenience, where human interacts with devices to gain some benefits. For example, connected home appliances will reduce your monthly bills by managing your resource usage such as automatically turning off electricity when you leave home, or adjusting the room temperature based on current weather.

On the other hand, IIoT uses more sophisticated devices to extend to provide more detailed visibility and enable automated controls and accomplish sophisticated analytics. Some common use cases include:

  • Asset tracking and monitoring 
    • Asset tracking is perhaps the first and most common IIoT use case.
  • Automation of manual processes
  • Predictive maintenance
    • Predictive maintenance is a cornerstone of smart factories.
  • Improving safety and security
    • While IoT security headlines tend to focus on the technologies potential to open up cybersecurity risks, technologies such as video monitoring and remote monitoring can also improve security.
  • Buildings: energy efficiency and/or automation
  • Transforming from a product based model to services based model for customers
    • Thanks to IoT, a growing number of traditional product offerings are being refashioned as services.
  • More agile and efficient product design process
    • Data from connected devices can be used to improve the design process and make their design process more agile and efficient. 

IIoT connects critical machines and sensors in high-stakes industries such as aerospace, defence, healthcare and energy. These are the systems in which failure often results in life-threatening or other emergency situations.

IoT, on the other hand, tends to be consumer-level devices with low risk impact when failure happens. They are important and convenient, but breakdowns do not immediately create emergency situations.

The implementation of IoT technology is here and growing. Understanding the difference between IoT and Industrial IoT (IIoT) will give you a better understanding on how the emerging Industrial Internet will provide industrial business with a new growth opportunity to improve performance and compete using these technologies.

IIoT Terms

Access Control

Access control is the system of identity verification and permission management for all platform-connected elements including APIs, administrator or operator interfaces, devices, users, organizations, stored or in-transit data, or any other platform service.


Analytics refers to the ability of a user to monitor both historical and real-time data collected from IIoT devices. Analytics can include descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive components.


An application is any piece of contained logic either running on or directly integrated to an IIoT platform. On-cloud and on-premises applications enable code-based control over IIoT platform components, using the raw assets or data with specific customized logic. An application can contain customer, operator, or administrator-facing user interfaces (UIs), or could function as a self-contained service, providing any type of relevant data or device manipulation.

Data Management

Data management is defined as the capabilities within an IoT platform to ingest, store, manage, and forward data received from IIoT devices.

Device Management

Device management refers to the ability of an IIoT platform to provide lifecycle management functionality for connected devices, including device onboarding, deployment of software and firmware updates, and configuration of managed devices.

Event Processing

Event processing refers to the ability of an IoT platform to execute actions or provide alerts and notifications based on administrator or user configured rules or triggers.

External Integration

Integration is defined as the ability of an IoT platform to interface and share data with third-party applications, services, or systems.


Monitoring is defined as the ability of a platform to trigger events, report on device status, and follow ingested data streams. Platform capabilities for monitoring should include both aggregated and drill-down views, and typically include operator- or administrator-facing dashboards and other graphical interfaces. Administrator User Interface (UI) The administrator UI provides configuration management capabilities including access control and platform configuration. This administrator interface is also typically responsible for configuration of vendor-provided on- platform services, such as device and data management configuration.

Alerting and Notification

Alerting and notification is any system of pushing data, metadata, and messages to users, administrators, or external systems for purposes of generating logged events. Alerting and notifications may include user-configurable notifications provided through UI and user experience (UX) elements in a dashboard or list views. Alerting and notifications might also use push-based or pull-based API/ M2M elements to complete their message delivery purposes.

Authentication and Access Control

Authentication and access control is a system of identity verification and identity management for all IIoT platform- connected elements including APIs, admin UI, operator UI, devices, and platform-provided services. Authentication and access control should support multi-factor authentication for both users and devices and support multi-tenant and customer-of-customer models. Authentication and access control may also include encryption and data protection though not required in all IIoT cases.

Data Ingestion and Routing

Data ingestion and routing is a service that allows platforms to ingest machine data from connected IIoT devices, aggregation points, and gateways and then forward ingested data to other on-platform or off-platform services. Data ingestion and routing is often an MQTT/HTTP endpoint, but is logically protocol agnostic. Data ingestion and routing acts as a message hub, enabling an individual ingested message to pass through the variety of on-platform or off-platform services.


A device is a combination of hardware and software assembled to perform some IIoT function.

Device Connectivity

Device connectivity is the communication path allowing data to travel from an individual device to an IIoT edge gateway using Bluetooth low-energy, Zigbee/Z-Wave,  or other  LAN- based technologies. In addition, some devices may connect directly to the platform without transiting an IIoT gateway by using LPWAN, cellular, satellite, or fixed-line services.

Device Metadata Storage

Device metadata storage is an asset database that provides a collection point for all IIoT device metadata including device current state and historical state. Very often device metadata storage is implemented as a SQL-type datastore. Device metadata storage can be exposed directly to the IIoT platform or enterprise application (e.g., asset tracking or inventory management systems), or can only be exposed internally to the IoT device management services.

Edge Analytics

Edge analytics is any type of data- and metadata-related quantitative exploration executed locally at the edge. Edge analytics often include limited anomaly detection or other essential security-related analytic services, though more complete analytic implementations are also possible.

Edge Data Normalization

Edge data normalization is a service that enables the conversion and standardization of machine data at the IIoT edge from unstructured, streaming sources to compressed, structured data formats for northbound transmission or storage. Additionally, data normalization may aggregate high refresh-rate sensor data into moving averages or other windowed metrics.

 Edge Data Storage

Edge data storage is a service that provides either ephemeral or persistent storage of machine data at the IoT edge. Edge data storage can be used as a short-term storage engine during periods of intermittent platform connectivity or as a longer-term storage engine for edge-based analytics or monitoring.

Edge IIoT Application

An edge IIoT application is an IIoT application deployed to and executed from the edge of an IIoT solution. It typically interfaces with locally available resources and devices but may also connect to southbound or northbound (data and management) APIs.

Edge Event Processing

Edge event processing is the ability to execute actions including external callouts, notifications, and alerts executed on the edge of the IIoT network. Edge event processing is often a feature-limited version of the on-platform, cloud- based event processing, though it may also be implemented as fully-featured complex event processing (CEP).

Edge to Cloud Connectivity

Edge-to-cloud connectivity is the communication service allowing data to travel from IIoT devices, aggregation points, and gateways to cloud IIoT platform and other cloud services. Connectivity options include low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN), cellular, satellite, proprietary networks, and fixed- line services.

Enterprise Application

An enterprise application is any external service including a third-party analytics service, data-storage service, and others, that interfaces with northbound (data and management) APIs to provide functionality to users.

Event Processing (Historical)

Event processing (historical) is the ability to execute actions including external callouts, notifications, and alerts based on stored machine data. The actions performed are based on machine data that have been stored. Event processing (historical) can either be based on anomaly-detection rules, moving averages, or other operator- or administrator-defined parameters.

Event Processing (Real-time)

Event processing (real-time) is the ability to execute actions including external callouts, notifications, and alerts based on live or streaming machine data. Event processing (real-time) can also provide anomaly-detection and value limits, but these must be provided near real-time with event processing occurring within a few minutes after initial data ingestion.

External Integration

An external integration is a solution using an API or other connector allowing the bidirectional flow of data between an IIoT platform and external systems or platforms including ERP, CRM/SFA, inventory management, trouble ticketing, and others. External integrations, unlike generic machine data egress topologies, are productized offerings providing pre-built connectors to selected external systems or platforms. These external integrations allow the selective push of data based on business rules.

IIoT Application

An IIoT application is any piece of contained logic running on the IIoT platform or directly integrated to the IIoT platform. An application could contain customer-, operator-, or administrator-facing UIs, or function as a self-contained service, providing any type of relevant data manipulation or device manipulation. IoT applications running on-cloud or on-premises enable code-based control over the IIoT platform components, enriching the raw assets or data with customer-specific logic.

Machine Data Storage

Machine data storage is a service that allows the persistent storage of IIoT device data typically in time-series formats. Machine data storage provides services to allow querying of machine data based on IIoT device or time period. It usually consists of a NoSQL data store, although relational data stores are also possible. Some IIoT platforms provide no storage capabilities, some require usage of an external-to- platform data store, and some provide limited periods of data retention.

Northbound Data APIs

Northbound data application programming interfaces (APIs) are either a single API or collection of APIs facilitating management of data storage. The northbound data APIs provide programmatic access to data stored within the IIoT platform as well as live data received from IIoT devices.

On-Platform Analytics

On-platform analytics is any type of data- and metadata- related quantitative exploration executed in the cloud platform. On-platform analytics can include discrete analytics services, fully integrated analytics services, or vendor-provided applications.

Operator UI

The operator UI provides the day-to-day interface for platform operators for functions including device management, data management, reporting, and analytics. All capabilities are provided for the platform and associated services.

Protocol Adapter

Protocol adapter is a service deployed at the IIoT edge that enables compatibility between industrial or other SCADA- type hardware and the device management and data management platform components. This service typically serves as a bridge between proprietary protocols and standardized protocols such as MQTT or LWM2M and can be deployed either within the platform or directly on edge devices or gateways.

Southbound Data APIs

Southbound data APIs enable communication on the data layer between connected IoT devices, aggregation points, and gateways and data ingestion and routing service components. Southbound data APIs are typically MQTT/HTTP end points, but many different protocols are used in different platforms.