IoT involves the networking of machines, devices and objects so that sensed information associated with them has the potential to be accessed across multiple locations, organisations and operations. IoT represents a standardised platform that supports the interoperability of data between machines, devices and objects and the systems that make use of them. IoT is plainly an extension to the internet to include not only computing devices but every day machines, devices and objects. Industrial IoT is the industrial application of IoT capabilities within the industrial domain. It can be seen as an extension to more traditionally structured IT systems that operated within a factory to sense machines, devices and objects directly involved in production to allow that remit to extend to machines, devices and objects which do not directly lie within that domain but which can have direct bearing on its operations.

Industrial IoT is frequently cited as one of the key enablers of the set of new industrial IT capabilities in the digitalisation of manufacturing, and is considered a core part of the German initiated Industry 4.0 activity and US initiated Industrial Internet Consortium. Industrial IoT enables connectivity between machines, devices and objects in multiple locations by supporting standards [not all yet exist] in the areas of identity, data collection and transport, data discovery, querying and cataloguing and for the analysis and use of the data. IoT is cited as being the glue between industrial IT systems and Operational Technology systems.

It supports flexibility of manufacturing operations by allowing resources beyond the domain to be considered if needed. It supports productivity by allowing additional information associated with a manufacturing operation to be brought to bear on the decisions associated with its day to day functioning – e.g. access to logistics challenges in the transport network which might influence deliveries or procurement, the ability to access consumer usage data and channel it directly into the design and production decisions.