A survey of C-suite and director-level executives from 500 industrial companies across six countries with revenues of more than US$500 million on embedding AI in their products , had some interesting revelations.
This industry research report by Accenture released in April 2018 reiterated the widespread observation that a vast majority of manufacturers are turning to AI to ‘turbocharge’ their products and services. But, what it also pointed was that while 98 percent of the surveyed organisations have begun to enhance their offerings with AI, only 16 percent of them have established a holistic AI vision for their business, only 5 percent are committing resources to AI-driven product initiatives, and only 2 percent have begun to leverage AI solutions at scale. This highlights that while industries are looking at AI to drive innovation, business and growth, they are still in the early stages.
AI means business for the Industrial sector
While the industrial sector is in the early years of its AI journey, yet the impact has been nothing less than dramatic. Today, advanced AI algorithms in the form of machine learning and artificial neural networks formulate predictions regarding asset malfunction and enable manufacturers save millions of dollars. AI algorithms notify manufacturing teams of possible production faults, deviations and abnormalities and help them tend to the issues early and thereby drastically reducing defect rates and product recalls. Data on the use and performance of products aids the development teams make both strategic and tactical engineering decisions.
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In short, AI has helped businesses anticipate market changes, optimise manufacturing supply chain, enable inventory control, and even energy consumption. Even as Industrial AI continues to address these opportunities, it has simultaneously catalysed an advanced revolution that is shaping the future of AI in the sector. That revolution is called Industry X.0.
Industry X.0: The ‘smart’ way to transform your business
Industry X.0 is an approach that uses advanced technologies to reinvent products and services, accelerate operational efficiency and spur enterprise-wide growth.
With Industry X.0, manufacturers are able to leverage technologies like Industrial IoT (IIoT), analytics, AI, robotics, 3D printing, businesses to operationalise digital innovations cross the business at every stage of product and service development and delivery. Industry X.0 helps businesses unlock new revenue streams, work more efficiently and effectively with customers, employees and partners to build a long-term relationship.
Demonstrating breakthrough innovation with AI
The Biesse Group, a global leader in the technology for processing wood, glass, stone, plastic and metal, saw how IIoT presented numerous opportunities by improving operational efficiencies, enhancing customer experience, reducing costs, and opening new revenue streams. The fact that their customers were interested in new digital capabilities was an added advantage.
Teaming with Accenture, the Biesse Group designed an IIoT operating model, business case, solution and roadmap using the Accenture Connected Platforms as a Service (CPaaS) on a Microsoft Azure IoT platform. The IIoT platform was launched in 2017 as a pilot followed by a full roll-out. Biesse Group was able to connect 1000 machines to the IIoT platform – making them one of the few companies in the world to do so. The strategic engagement with Accenture helped the Biesse Group shift from being a product-oriented to a service-oriented manufacturer. Post the move, Biesse Group was able to offer customers a host of features, from remote diagnostics, warnings and alerts, predictive maintenance services, usage analysis, to more sophisticated production process optimisation capabilities on a pay-as-you-go model. These services also augmented their aftermarket business with new revenue streams. More importantly, it enabled the Biesse Group’s customers to generate greater value from their machines. Today, the IIoT platform has been released in approximately 25 countries globally.
Why engage with the ecosystem?
As much as it is important to leverage AI with a holistic approach to speed up growth, research indicates that manufacturers who choose to ‘go it alone’ find themselves increasingly marginalised. On the other hand, manufacturers who engage with ecosystem partners are more likely to have higher productivity, revenue and margin. It is simply because these ecosystem partners bring a diverse set of capabilities that help manufacturers enhance their flexibility, responsiveness, overall performance and more importantly speed up their innovation cycles faster.
If the industrial sector wants to mirror such movements, co-innovation is a must. And Accenture, through the Accenture Ventures Applied Innovation Challenge is aiming to make that possible.
The challenge identifies and recognises start-ups with the most innovative B2B use cases in Applied Intelligence – Accenture's unique approach to combining AI with data, analytics and automation. The challenge has five focus areas – one of which is Industrial AI. Three winning start-ups will get the opportunity to collaborate and co-create with Accenture and its clients across the globe. After a successful inaugural edition, the second edition has seen applications from startups with deep domain expertise doing some phenomenal work.