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April 05, 2016
Platform economy: Driven by real-time processing
By: Marc Carrel-Billiard

The time is now. There’s no time like the present. The time is right. The business world is filled with axioms related to the ticking of the clock, or better yet the smartwatch.

But the real urgency in the digital era? Developing business strategies that will spark enterprise growth. This is where every second counts. In the connected world, Accenture believes a big part of the answer comes from building technology platforms with real-time processing functionality.

The Platform Economy, one of five business trends in Accenture Technology Vision 2016, is defined as a platform-based business model innovation that leverages external resources to create synergy for sustainable growth. According to our Tech Vision survey, business and IT executives ranked asymmetric growth using platform-based business models and ecosystems as the most important growth strategy over the next three years—more so than growth through mergers and acquisitions or organically (see Figure 1).

Executives Asymmetric Growth

Connected world depends on real-time capability

As these new platforms develop more connections to mobile and Internet of Things devices, a rapidly increasing number of the use cases will require the support of real-time business models, data architectures, applications and transactions.

Think about the next generation of mission critical systems in various industries. Sensors embedded into everything from consumer devices to industrial equipment will enable real-time interactions between machines. A connected healthcare ecosystem, for example, that provides continuous patient monitoring from hospital to home will require real-time data exchange between the doctors and patients’ wearable devices. A connected logistics ecosystem will need real-time tracking of packages and fleet vehicles.

Similarly, connected cars that offer instant emergency services in case of collisions will rely on real-time alerts. And the wide range of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) equipment and assets in connected factories, natural resources plants, transportation systems and energy infrastructure will all require real-time management.

For an example of a company that gets it, look no further than GE, which coined the term “Industrial Internet.” GE launched its Predix initiative, with ambitious goals to provide a common IIoT platform across numerous business units and product lines. Employing some 10,000 software engineers, GE aims to “software-define” everything it makes, from trains and planes to nuclear power plants. Now the company is opening up the platform externally to extend the reach of the ecosystem well beyond GE. In other words, GE is forging ahead with an asymmetric growth strategy based squarely on a platform.

As shown below, we believe leading digital enterprises will start the journey to real-time business models with back-office systems. Take SAP HANA and Hadoop, for example, which transforms back-office systems and data into a real-time engine supporting predictive and correlation analytics. Identifying and upgrading these types of systems and understanding the implications of data and processing on the edge are critical steps to take now to position for the Platform Economy.

Back Office Systems

Real-time requires new skills, approaches

These new technology platforms that can support real-time programming capability (including management of quality of service or potential architecture resilience) will also require more iterative approaches to build, along with new IT skill sets in Agile, DevOps and software testing. Digital businesses will have to embrace multi-speed IT (also called or bi-modal IT) in order to shift into high gear.

Platforms with real-time processing capabilities must be architected from the ground up to support the development of the applications, data and scale of an ecosystem being built on top of it. These ecosystem architectures will also require technical architecture, governance and security to support multi-stakeholder ecosystems. They must be based on open standards and APIs to make the platform sharable and attractive to ecosystem partners. And they will need to be based on a cloud/hybrid cloud foundation that is technically designed to scale with the network effects of the ecosystem. These decisions will drive design, openness and scalability options with technology partners and cloud providers.

What are your company’s digital technology capabilities? Are there gaps that need to be filled in order to design, architect and build platform ecosystems? If you’re seeking a connected, collaborative and scalable business model for enterprise growth, it’s the perfect time to get started.

To learn more about this year’s Accenture Technology Vision, I invite you to read the chapter highlights, check out a range of informative at-a-glance visuals, view our videos and slideshares, and keep checking this blog for more discussion of these trends.

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