How Interoperability Unlocks Industrial Reinvention

Feb. 24, 2023

Adapting quickly to the constant stream of new business challenges and opportunities facing industrial companies in every vertical is essential. But this is often easier said than done. But no matter how it’s addressed, compressing digital transformation into a shorter time period—often in numerous parts of the business at the same time—is fast becoming a key factor to success.

New Accenture research shows how some companies have been able to compress their digital transformation. And one of the most striking findings in this research is the importance of interoperability in the process.

In this case interoperability means uniting data siloes and providing greater data visibility to people and processes across the organization. This requires not only integrated data sharing capabilities but the ability to create a seamless user experience for employees, providing them with a single source of truth about all aspects of the enterprise.

Accenture’s research shows companies with high interoperability grow revenues six times faster than those with low interoperability. 

Untangling IT complexity

One reason interoperability is such a differentiator is that it’s becoming ever harder to achieve. Most large industrial enterprises have to manage an ever-growing number of complex applications. For instance, around a third of companies Accenture surveyed said they now have more than a thousand applications in their portfolios. 

This expansion of IT’s footprint, combined with a greater number of people making IT-related decisions, can leave IT in a complex tangle.  The resulting technical complexity was cited as a key barrier to achieving interoperability by over two-thirds of the companies Accenture surveyed.

Unsurprisingly, only around two in every five industrial manufacturers have managed to resolve this complexity and achieve high interoperability. And for more than a quarter of manufacturers, interoperability is currently considered to be low.

If your company falls into the low-interoperability category, the first step out of this category is to recognize that the cloud is now critical. Cloud technologies allow companies to pull, query, connect and use data from every corner of the business, including the shop floor. It helps reduce redundancy and duplication, creating that essential single version of the truth everyone can agree on.

The research shows that almost three-quarters of companies with high or medium interoperability have adopted one or more public cloud platforms. But, crucially, they’re not just thinking about the impact on IT. They’re also using cloud to change how they work—standardizing and simplifying processes, enabling real-time insights, breaking down organizational siloes, and so on.

When a company’s IT landscape is composed of prebuilt interoperable components and repeatable solutions, companies can swap those components in and out much more easily, configuring and reconfiguring new capabilities much faster, with minimal disruption elsewhere.

Why is this so important? Because it radically enhances responsiveness and helps future-proof the organization. It allows companies to react to disruption faster, adapt to changing business needs faster, and compress the overall process of transformation.

Human connections

Of course, the power of interoperability isn’t unleashed by connecting IT applications alone. It also needs connected people. And in the modern enterprise, the two are mutually reinforcing. Employees need an enterprise IT landscape that enhances, rather than limits, their ability to collaborate effectively.

The research shows companies with high interoperability understand this. They typically have a rigorous focus on improving human-to-human connections, supported by strong IT training programs that help all employees understand and maximise the utility of enterprise applications.

They also look to avoid the “data hoarding” that can sometimes plague siloed organizations. This is done by carefully nurturing a culture of data sharing—subject to strict security and privacy safeguards—both inside and outside the organization.

Accenture’s research has shown that when data is properly decentralized, trusted, and shareable, as much as two hours of employee time can be freed up every working day.

While the concept of interoperability isn´t new, the need to make it a reality in practice is. To compress the process of digital transformation and achieve interoperability across people and technology, an intelligent digital core—with the organization’s people and IT landscape fully connected, integrated and interoperable—is the foundation for enterprise-wide reinvention.

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