As manufacturers from all walks of life figure out how to tackle their digital transformation journeys, it’s important not only to understand how solutions can cross the range of industries, but also how domain expertise plays into better leveraging the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) for a specific industry. Rockwell Automation has been bringing together key players in the digital ecosystem to help its customers not only get the products and services they need for digital transformation, but also to zero in on that domain knowledge.
At last year’s Automation Fair, the big news was Rockwell’s partnership with PTC, its $1 billion equity investment into the company, and the jointly released FactoryTalk InnovationSuite. This year, the 27th annual Automation Fair, going on this week in Chicago, is a place for several key partnership announcements—creating an all-star team that will give customers one place to find the solutions they need. Among them is Rockwell’s announcement that it will partner with Accenture’s Industry X.0 to jointly develop a digital offering to help industrial clients move beyond existing manufacturing systems to transform their entire connected enterprise.
The cooperative work is geared toward taking advantage of the expertise of both companies to better optimize industrial supply chains and to better leverage the IIoT technologies available. “Our customers are looking for measurable business outcomes when they invest in our software, products, and solutions. Together with Accenture, we will be able to help industrial companies quantify the financial benefits of their investment and to capture this value at speed and scale,” said Blake Moret, Rockwell’s chairman and CEO. “By teaming up, we reduce complexity, reduce risk, and achieve better results with comprehensive enterprise-wide expertise.”
This alignment is part of Rockwell’s effort to create the partner ecosystem that its customers will rely on. “The market demands the best of those solutions. And yet [customers] can only realistically afford to create a handful of partnerships,” said Bob Murphy, senior vice president of Connected Enterprise consulting for Rockwell. “If we can afford those partnerships, it will be very powerful for our customers.” By providing customers with a single, trusted provider of digital solutions, the collaboration with Accenture will enable clients to more effectively leverage those technologies and drive measurable growth.
The nuances that vary industry to industry need to be capably targeted, Murphy said. “We’re continually affording more specific solution sets to increase their speed to value,” he said, referencing suites that Rockwell has already released for pharmaceuticals, brewing, mining, and more. Bundling industry solutions into collective suites is an ongoing process, he added. “We’re bent on leveraging the domain expertise that we have in those industries and our powerful capabilities around analysis engines.”
This is a large part of where the partnership with Accenture comes into play, according to Murphy. “We’ve been collaborating with them for the last six months in an in-depth fashion to bring their full supply chain expertise to bear,” he said. “Add our ability to understand and deliver the plant floor from a control paradigm perspective, that creates powerful forces.”
Through the partnership, Rockwell will provide industrial automation technology and domain expertise such as FactoryTalk InnovationSuite IIoT software and analytics systems. It will also deliver network services, operational technology security, and application development, installation, integration, and support. Accenture will provide enterprise business and technical capabilities, including consulting, analytics, application development, system integration, change management, and support.
The two companies have been working together to develop solutions and services that create value along the industrial value chain. To date, the collaboration has yielded, among other early-stage successes, a prototype for supply chain management designed to deliver supplier cost optimization and an improved ability to track the exact movements of products.
“Industrial companies that want to grow need faster and more efficient production and operations processes. These processes also need to allow them to develop new types of products and services,” said Mike Sutcliff, group chief executive of Accenture Digital. “Our collaboration with Rockwell Automation will offer digital solutions and services that will go a long way in helping our clients achieve this enterprise transformation.”
At Tuesday’s Perspectives event, where Rockwell briefs industry journalists, Sutcliff joined Moret on stage to make the partnership announcement. Moret acknowledged the understanding that there’s no one company that can provide all the elements customers need for digital transformation. Rockwell will continue to build on its “ability to pre-wire relationships,” he said.
They’re providing customers the ability to collaborate with the ecosystem, Sutcliff added. “If we can bring together our capabilities, we’re pretty sure we can help the industry move even more quickly,” he said.
“We’re helping customers understand where their greatest opportunities are,” Murphy commented. “We can do that together better than separately.”