Mediaplanet  What is the broad potential of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)?

Stephen Gardiner  We know that IIoT will automate and drive efficiencies, but businesses are also optimistic that it will enable the creation of entirely new products, services and markets. We estimate the IIoT could boost the gross domestic product of 20 of the world’s largest economies by an additional $18 trillion by 2030.

We know that every business is a digital business, and in the near future, businesses will use the IIoT to capture new growth by increasing production to boost revenues and creating new hybrid business models, exploiting intelligent technologies to fuel innovation, and transforming their workforce.

MP  What industries are currently taking advantage of the IIoT and what are they doing?

SG  We see tremendous potential across a range of industries, as modern industry value chains are highly connected. Chemicals, mining, energy and agriculture companies are actively investing to improve the performance of existing assets and processes. For example, in the agriculture industry, Accenture used the IIoT to create two major advancements in the market: Accenture Precision Agriculture Service and Accenture Connected Crop Solution.

Geared toward larger-scale farms, the Accenture Precision Agriculture Service helps farmers gather and cross-correlate a wide range of data to make meaningful and timely operating decisions that can enhance yield and profitability. And then there is the Accenture Connected Crop Solution, which is designed for developing countries and smallholder farmers.

It enables agro-input providers to boost field agent productivity and helps farmers improve yields by providing fertilizer, pesticide, and seed recommendations personalized for each farmer’s land and needs.

"Users of the IIoT products and services will not only create new work, they will also be able to work differently."

MP  What are the capabilities of the IIoT and intelligent products in the near future?

SG  Intelligent products will be able to initiate tasks and communicate with other equipment while tailoring their user interfaces, recommendations and movements to meet customer preferences. They will also be able to strengthen their features — and thus the benefits they provide customers — through software improvements.

The IIoT can save manufacturing businesses money by lowering operating costs and optimizing yield and productivity. Finally, the use of IIoT can prevent accidents and failures during operation, and spur operators to proactively take action when uncertain or adverse conditions are detected.

MP  What does this mean for workers?

SG  Users of the IIoT products and services will not only find new work to do; they will also be able to work differently. To capture the bigger opportunities presented by the IIoT, there will be a greater-than-ever demand for employees who have skills in data science, software development, hardware engineering, testing, operations, marketing and sales.

Offering product-service hybrids will require a workforce to create, support and sell them. New categories of services will emerge, all because of the IIoT.

MP  Are businesses ready for the IIoT?                                                                             

SG  A majority of businesses are getting there, but there is more work to be done. In an Accenture survey of more than 1,400 business leaders, half of whom are CEOs, we found that 71 percent say their companies have yet to make any progress with the IIoT. Just seven percent have developed a comprehensive strategy with investments to match.

In the near future, companies will need to work with a wider range of partners and suppliers to create and deliver services, as well as reach new customers. The IIoT’s potential payoff is enormous. Businesses must start creating an IoT culture and become the disruptors, rather than becoming the disrupted.