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Machine dreams

Meet the connected industrial workforce.



In 2020 we estimate that a Connected Industrial Workforce could be helping to unlock as much as €500 million in profitability for an automotive manufacturer with annual revenues of €50 billion.

Most manufacturers still lack the confidence to implement such a workforce successfully. But the leaders are already pursuing a clear implementation strategy by investing in the collaborative robots and augmented reality devices that enable connectivity, upgrading their IT infrastructures to ensure that connectivity is secure, and training and hiring to close the skills gap between what humans can do and what machines are capable of. Their efforts promise to sustain their first-mover advantage as the Connected Industrial Workforce transforms the manufacturing value chain.




The digital revolution is transforming manufacturing.
By bringing machines and artificial intelligence into the workforce, it is enabling an increasingly adaptable, change-ready, and responsive working environment:
a Connected Industrial Workforce in which men and machines, working together, reinvent the production and service processes that drive manufacturing outcomes.

By enabling humans to collaborate with machines, in a real-time, two-way exchange, this Connected Industrial Workforce promises to boost manufacturing productivity significantly, as well as improving operational efficiency, and enhancing safety and risk management.

Key Findings

Accenture’s Connected Industrial Workforce survey revealed:

Most manufacturers recognize the benefits of a Connected Industrial Workforce.

Graphic 1

Most companies lack the confidence to implement it successfully.

Graphic 2

Technical concerns hold them back.

Graphic 3

Leaders are spending almost twice as much as laggards on the Connected Industrial Workforce, and will continue to raise the bar over the next five years. They have a clear implementation strategy and are boosting investment in such core technologies as collaborative robots, as well as tackling security concerns by upgrading their IT infrastructure, and piloting or implementing programs designed to close the skills gap.


Country Results

View country results


As manufacturing transforms, so does the manufacturing value chain. Digitization is lowering barriers to entry, raising the prospect of new, more digitally agile competitors seizing the chance to profit from a Connected Industrial Workforce.

Failure to invest with confidence in the capabilities that enable it could threaten the competitiveness of both incumbent followers and incumbent laggards. Laggards are particularly vulnerable, especially because they display the lowest levels of senior leadership support, as well as the least interest in hiring new talent, and scant sense of urgency when it comes to seeking external help or training for new roles. It’s vital that manufacturers move quickly to build new business models robust enough to deliver the full promise of the Connected Industrial Workforce.


Manufacturers can accelerate progress by:

Envisioning the full promise of the Connected Industrial Workforce as a means of increasing operational efficiency as well as productivity, and as a driver of better visibility, enhanced responsiveness and better collaboration.

Raising their game by dedicating higher proportions of their R&D budgets to the Connected Industrial Workforce.

Defining the benefits specific to their organization. Be bold in their thinking. Leading companies already are.

Defining their journey and who owns it, with the full support of senior leadership and a robust governance structure.

Identifying and addressing what’s holding them back. Legacy IT systems, data and systems security, skills gap.

Identifying new job profiles, and training and hiring to acquire relevant skills.