I\u2019ve said it before, but it bears repeating: When it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT), the consumer market gets all the attention, but the real action may be in industrial applications, the so-called Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).\nThe IIoT is a huge market, and it\u2019s based more on clearly defined cost savings than the always-fickle consumer preferences that seem to rule the consumer market. It also requires highly available infrastructure to connect everything and avoid expensive downtime \u2014\u00a0one reason why investment in IIoT firms has been hot this summer, with investments in companies such as\u00a0Seeq, Element Analytics, Trendminer, Falkonry, and Toumetis.\nTo find out more, I traded emails with Chris Nelson, vice president of engineering at OSIsoft. Funded by Softbank, the operational intelligence company analyzes and visualizes massive amounts of IIoT data for enterprise customers such as Chevron, Norvartis, PG&E and Kellogg, and also works with many IIoT startups.\n\nPredictive maintenance is the 'gateway drug' for IIoT\nAccording to Nelson, the drivers of IIoT growth vary by markets: \u201cOil companies and mining companies are looking at ways to reduce their costs and insulate themselves from commodity price fluctuations, utilities want to incorporate renewables, pharma and food manufacturers are building smarter supply chains and reduce the risk of recalls.\u201d\nAs that growth continues, the IIoT market is entering a new stage, Nelson said.\n\u201cWe\u2019re moving out of an exploratory phase where companies have been testing data analytics or IoT into one where more of them will \u2018operationalize\u2019 these technologies across multiple facilities,\u201d with predictive maintenance as the \u201cgateway drug\u201d for IIoT adoption, he said. That market expansion may not seem \u201cexplosive \u2014this is business technology after all,\u201d Nelson noted, but he predicted \u201cstrong, steady double-digit growth.\u201c\nIIoT architecture and other trends\nJust as important, Nelson noted, is that the architecture to support IIoT is solidifying. Instead of looking for a \u201cmagical algorithm that will solve all of their problems,\u201d customers are building complete solutions by \u201ccombining connectivity from one company, data management from another, and analytics from a third or fourth to develop a platform that works for them,\u201d he said.\nConcurrent with that, will be that as the technology stack solidifies, we\u2019ll enter \u201ca phase where less-tested technologies and companies will fade out,\u201d\u00a0Nelson predicted.\nThe IIoT challenge\nThe big challenge, Nelson said, is for IIoT users to get a handle on vast amounts of data \u2014 quickly. In the IIoT, he warns, \u201cMachine and operational data far outstrips what you see on the IT side in terms of velocity, variety, and volume. We see people tracking 10 million to 20 million data streams at once,\u201d and they need to figure out how to analyze and act on that data in real time.\nGoing back to the role of predictive maintenance as a gateway drug to the IIoT, Nelson pointed out: \u201cIf there\u2019s a production problem or equipment meltdown starting to build, you can\u2019t just send your data to the cloud or IT to a data scientist and wait five days for an answer.\u201d\nIIoT vs. consumer IoT\nWhile it\u2019s easy to get distracted by shiny new IoT devices, enterprises know that infrastructure is often more important \u2014 and that\u2019s even more true in the IIoT. Nelson explained it this way: \u201cA smart thermostat might cut your power by 2 percent, or $150 a year. In comparison, a paper manufacturer that cuts energy by 1 percent could save $15 million. Likewise, increasing production by 1 percent can mean $1 million at a mine or metal processing facility.\u201d (Of course, there are a lot more consumers than giant enterprises, so those $150 a year savings can add up when multiplied by millions of households.)\nGiven the potential of the IIoT, I asked Nelson why the rise of IIoT remains overshadowed by consumer IoT? One reason, Nelson said, is the phenomenal success of consumer plays like Uber, Facebook, and the iPhone.\nAnother is that it\u2019s simply \u201ceasier to imagine a smart fridge than a smart fluidized bed reactor.\u201d And because \u201cbusiness buyers are more demanding,\u201d B2B markets can often grow slower and create fewer high-profile \u201covernight 29-year-old billionaires.\u201d But he contends that business markets like the IIoT can deliver steadier growth and profits over the long haul.