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​Embedded software: Unlocking value from the IIoT for industrial manufacturers​

Industrial manufacturers are recognizing that embedded software is critical to realizing the full value of the Industrial Internet of Things.

The rise of the connected vehicle, and smart equipment products and services would not be possible without the robust technology infrastructure of digitally connected devices, objects and machines that constitute the IIoT. And without embedded software and the engineering know-how 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 the IIoT’s promise, Industrial 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 four-stage, transformational journey that manufacturers can follow to help maximize these opportunities and meet the challenges. 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. 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.

Industrial 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 industrial manufacturers.

By Andy Howard, managing director Automotive and Industrial Equipment and Aidan Quilligan, managing director of Accenture Industrial Software Solutions.