A sense of urgency

New research shows companies believe the Industrial Internet is a game-changer, but  challenges around security, data silos and systems integration are holding them back

Companies in all industries—including those in the communications, media and technology sectors—are trying to figure out how to put a powerful emerging technology, the Industrial Internet, to work for them. And for good reason. Combining Big Data analytics with the Internet of Things, the Industrial Internet offers massive potential for companies to achieve significant gains in efficiency and take their innovation efforts to new heights.

Consider the results of a new global joint Accenture-GE research study. The study found that Big Data analytics is either the top priority or in the top three for an overwhelming majority of companies surveyed. Even more intriguing is that in more than half of the companies in our study, the board of directors is the primary influencer of their Big Data adoption strategy. Such high-level support has translated into real money: Nearly three-quarters of respondents indicated they already invest more than 20 percent of their budget in Big Data analytics and about the same percentage expect to increase that spending in the coming year.

Urgency seems to be the principal factor driving companies’ investment in and attention to Big Data analytics. Eighty-four percent of executives surveyed believe the use of Big Data analytics has the power to shift their industry’s competitive landscape within just the next year, and 74 percent said their main competitors are using Big Data analytics to differentiate their capabilities. Even more ominous, 89 percent said that not adopting Big Data strategies in the next one to three years will result in their company’s losing market share.

Yet companies hoping to capitalize fully on the promise of the Industrial Internet still have a lot of work to do. Currently, most companies in our study indicated their Big Data analytics capabilities are helping them mainly gain insights that can lead to improved operational efficiency. Only 40 percent said they can make predictions from the data they currently capture, and fewer still (36 percent) reported they can use that data to optimize operations.

What’s holding them back? The most frequently mentioned as a top-three challenge are system barriers between departments that prevent collection and correlation of data for maximum impact (named by 36 percent) and security concerns (cited by 35 percent). Talent can also pose a problem: About half of those surveyed noted they have talent gaps in several critical areas including analyzing data, interpreting results, and gathering and consolidating disparate data. Yet filling those gaps won’t be easy. A growing shortage is projected in the number of both data scientists and managers capable of using Big Data analyses to make good decisions.

The upshot of our research is that the Industrial Internet offers great promise. But capitalizing on that promise will require companies to raise their game in a number of key areas to substantially increase the maturity of their Industrial Internet solutions and capabilities.