Accenture’s IIoT Center in Garching showcases digital innovation in practice

At a recent analyst event, Accenture provided an update and showcase of its activities in its Industrial IoT (IIoT) Innovation Center in Garching, near Munich, which is one of around 20 such centers that the company operates around the globe to foster innovation and co-creation with clients. This center can address both solutions aimed at transforming and growing the core business, e.g., by digitizing operations and the customer experience, but at the same time also at developing new, digital business models, moving from 'traditional' products to connected products or even to new, digitized services. The latter can mean, for example, helping manufacturing companies move from a 'product' to a 'service' business model. This approach, conducted in a workshop mode, typically includes the involvement of partners, start-ups and/or academic institutions. Accenture claims that such an interconnected network multiplies the speed, scale, and impact of innovation. Through its Liquid Studios, staffed with technology experts, rapid prototyping of developed ideas becomes possible.

Key topics addressed in the IIoT Center include:

  • Connected Products, e.g., a connected screw wrench enabling the manufacturer to sell a service to its customers (i.e. pay-per-screw);
  • Digital Manufacturing Twin, e.g., enabling the virtual commissioning of manufacturing processes through solution accelerators;
  • Digital Factory deployments helping customers bring new solutions and services to the market, or improve existing operations.

Accenture's core proposition is to support 'disciplined innovation at speed' through a proven process, with a focus on business outcomes and time to market. The co-innovation concept comprises investments in assets and capabilities from both Accenture as well as the client, with Accenture additionally providing access to its wide partner ecosystem. An interesting aspect is that clients have the option to later bring the innovation outcome back in-house, if desired.

Showcased examples include the following:

  • An industrial machinery manufacturer improving the customer service around its machines - with the possibility to (later) unlock new revenue streams from services (rather than products);
  • An oil company looking to identify IoT deployments to improve operational efficiency, and increase worker safety and plant security;
  • A car parts supplier using blockchain technology to optimize program management and shop-floor operations, with the aim to generate savings which can then be invested in the development of new (service-oriented) features and functions for the car parts provided.

It is notable that the majority of initiatives today are still focused more on improving existing operations - which clearly have significant value for clients - rather than being truly disruptive - e.g., by generating new revenue streams. This confirms the general notion that value from optimizing existing operations is initially higher (and easier/faster to achieve) through IIoT deployments than completely new business models. However, in many of the cases shown here, the savings achieved are intended to be reinvested in new services or business models.

In PAC's view, with this approach, Accenture offers a valuable roadmap for clients on their digital transformation journey.

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