Amplifying the Customer’s Role in Digital Machine Technologies

The ability of customers to influence smart and connected product conceptualization is growing. It will be critical that OEMs reorient their products, services, internal processes and workforce to deliver desired customer outcomes.

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Technology is changing the way industrial equipment and services are produced and sold, but it’s the customers that will increasingly become the key driving force behind the industry’s transformation. It is a shift that will require OEMs to rethink how they will meet demand in a market that is undergoing major disruption.

The ability of customers to influence smart and connected product conceptualization is growing. With the rise of online platforms such as social media channels that can be conduits for immediate product feedback, leading OEMs are recognizing the increasing impact their customers can have on product and service development. Accenture’s Industry X.0 approach, which stresses extracting optimal value from digital manufacturing, views the voice of the customer as part of conceptualization. This growing trend has the potential to be nothing short of a total reversal of how products are designed, prototyped, manufactured, distributed and operated—driven by ultra-short, automated lifecycles.

In this environment, it will be critical that OEMs reorient their products, services, internal processes and workforce to deliver desired customer outcomes. Technology will remain a key part of this process. But functionality alone will not be enough. The role of technology will need to shift to become an enabler that gives customers even more opportunities to provide input into the process. This strategy will provide customers with more relevant outcomes, and inspire new revenue streams.

Accenture research identifies five key trends that exemplify this industrial success formula.

Success trends

  1. Artificial intelligence (AI) applications with human interaction are improving front- and back-office OEM activities. Embedded AI is helping deliver products and services that are easier and more intuitive for customers to use. It also is enhancing manufacturing and production processes with new levels of intelligence, collaboration and insight that contribute to differentiated outcomes. Ninety percent of the OEM respondents expect AI to transform their industry over the next three years.
  2. Ecosystems are becoming vital conduits for commerce. Nearly 95 percent of executives polled consider a platform-based business model and ecosystem engagement with digital partners critical to their future success.
  3. On-demand workforce platforms and online work management solutions are surging. This is the result of today’s digital demands requiring all companies, including OEMs, to reevaluate the workforce they need to lead their business with new, intelligent capabilities. Eighty-six percent of respondents agree that organizations are under pressure to extend innovation into their workforce.
  4. Technology design decisions are being made by humans for humans. Rather than people having to adapt their behavior to suit the demands of technology, the opposite is happening. Nearly 80 percent of the respondents strongly agree organizations that can tap into what motivates human behavior and design the customer experience accordingly will become the next industry leaders.
  5. Embracing the uncharted will become increasingly important. With technology reshaping industries, OEMs not only will need to focus on product and service outcomes, but will also need to work alongside regulators, governments and customers to establish new rules and standards that will put them in the driver’s seat in entirely new industries.

Blueprint for the future

These five trends that emphasize enhancing customer outcomes offer a blueprint for success for today’s industrial equipment manufacturers. In addition, Accenture research shows that leveraging the right combination of new technology could increase the market capitalization of OEMs by an average of more than $2.4 billion. Key digital technologies are also expected to create new jobs, responsibilities and roles as companies reinvent themselves to reflect Industry X.0. Those that pursue this direction can excel in the changing industrial equipment market.

>>Brian Irwin, brian.irwin@accenture.com, is managing director and industrial practice lead for Accenture USA.

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