For businesses, three key areas need to be addressed to accelerate the economy-wide, cross-industry application of the IIoT:
Reimagine industry models: If every product is connected and enables a new service, reinventing industry practices and business models becomes paramount. As companies embark on a journey that begins with using the IIoT to improve efficiencies, and progresses to creating outcome-oriented, product- service hybrids, they will need to plan each stage. How can their efforts for improving asset utilization, for example, be used as a platform for new services? Will a company gain most value by offering its own data to an ecosystem of partners, or from incorporating third-party data to enhance its own services? Should a company invest in its own platform or join existing industry platforms? How will its partnerships evolve as a consequence?
Capitalize on the value of data: The power of the IIoT comes not only from generating insightful data from physical objects, but also from sharing it between players within supply chains and cross- industry consortia. According to a survey undertaken by Accenture and GE,10 73 percent of companies are already investing more than 20 percent of their overall technology budget on big data analytics. That shift requires new technical and management skills. Further, it demands a cultural willingness to streamline data flow, not only within enterprises, but also between them. Companies must create new financial and governance models to share the rewards of using common data. Interoperability and security are identified as the greatest hurdles to progress by two- thirds of those companies actively pursuing IIoT initiatives, according to a survey by Accenture, the World Economic Forum and the Industrial Internet Consortium.11 Collaborators should establish their own processes and tests to improve interoperability while establishing common security frameworks. Governments need to work across borders with business and other stakeholders to agree who owns data, what can be shared and how liabilities will be handled across jurisdictions.
Prepare for the future of work: An overwhelming majority of executives (94 percent) believe that the increasing use of smart products and robotics will change the required skill and job mix in the workforce of the future.11 Decision making can be devolved to workers empowered by valuable data, while the design and creative process could become more iterative and experimental. Employees may have to develop working relationships with intelligent machines. And continuous learning could replace traditional training as technologies and business practices evolve quickly. Managers will have to be willing to collapse hierarchies and silos and open up to extended workforces beyond their own walls. Such an approach demands a new culture and tolerance of autonomy. Leaders must also accept the demand for individually tailored working environments and experiences by creative and dispersed workforces, while maintaining core values and a common purpose within their organizations. Companies will have to establish digital platforms to create global talent exchanges that address skills shortages. Digital tools will also accelerate skills development and support a continuous learning culture. Companies will need to reassess their organizational structures and operations. Thanks to technologies such as 3D printing and micro-assembly, in some quarters, the IIoT will reverse today’s trend of centralized manufacturing and localized services, requiring the reconfiguration of operations and talent.
From Accenture report: Winning with the Industrial Internet of Things: How to accelerate the journey to productivity and growth. February 2015.