Embedded Software at the Heart of Industrial Internet of Things

Nov. 9, 2015
Automotive and industrial equipment manufacturers realize the application of embedded software is critical to realizing the growth potential of IIoT.

Automotive and industrial equipment manufacturers are recognizing that embedded software is key to unlocking the full value of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)—a primary driver of growth in today’s global market. Its application is critical to realizing the growth potential that IIoT promises to deliver.

The rise of the connected vehicle, and smart equipment products and services, innovations that have helped spur growth in both sectors, would not be possible without the robust technology infrastructure of digitally connected devices, objects and machines that constitute the IIoT. And, in turn, the IIoT would not be possible without the application of embedded software that drives the connectivity of such devices and sensors needed to provide the intelligence that characterizes the IIoT.

According to our estimates (detailed in the report “Winning with the Industrial Internet of Things”), by 2030, the IIoT could contribute more than $10 trillion to the global economy, underscoring the critical role embedded software is playing as a foundation for new growth through this technology. As a result, embedded software will become more crucial to manufacturers’ ability to compete. Without it and the engineering knowhow to sustain it, companies will not be able to develop the products and services needed to enable new opportunities, while satisfying existing demand.

To take full advantage of IIoT’s promise, automotive and equipment manufacturers will need to adopt a strategy based on the understanding that as their company develops and matures, so will IIoT opportunities and challenges. Accenture has identified a process that can help maximize the opportunities and meet the challenges.

IIoT takes manufacturers through a four-stage, transformational journey that opens new opportunities for them along the way, as their organization develops and matures. And, at every stage of the journey, embedded software plays a vital role.

Stage 1: Operational efficiency. From the shop floor to the C-Suite, embedded software enables the connected and intelligent applications of machines, products and people that sustain a more operationally efficient enterprise. Such digitally automated manufacturing can boost productivity by up to 30 percent, according to a report from Deutsche Bank (“Industry 4.0: Huge Potential for Value Creation Waiting to Be Tapped”).

By optimizing operations through connectivity, companies can gain more opportunities, thus driving incremental revenue. For example, one leading industrial technology company is providing utility companies with advanced smart grid solutions and services focused on data management and systems integration that will improve its energy efficiency and grid reliability.

Stage 2: New products and services. Embedded software also provides the foundation for new functionalities that can fuel innovation and faster time to market. It is responsible, for instance, for the success of smartphones and the user interface they provide.

Automotive and equipment companies also can leverage the power of embedded software to build new business models by providing service add-ons and bundling information services as subscription services that will contribute to R&D as well.

Stage 3: The outcome economy. The connected, intelligent enterprise is perceptive enough to sense its needs and those of its customers, while relating intuitively to the outcomes both seek. Accenture participated in a cross-industry collaboration to explore the impact that technology could have in this context. The result was the development of a wearable, digitally enabled device that puts muscular dystrophy sufferers in control of their environment by allowing them to use their brain waves to turn lights on and off or change thermostats, a truly innovative application of embedded software.

Stage 4: Autonomous control and automation. The final stage of IIoT involves engaging fully automated manufacturing, driven by embedded software. This will enable companies to interact with a real-time supply chain and minimize talent shortages.

Embedded software is not only changing how industrial products and services are developed, but acting as the engine of growth for IIoT. As a result, it will become increasingly critical to the success of automotive and industrial equipment manufacturers.

>> Andy Howard, [email protected], is managing director of the Automotive and Industrial Equipment Group at Accenture. Aidan Quilligan, [email protected], is managing director of Accenture Industrial Software Solutions.

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