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Driving performance with digital intelligence


July 27, 2021

At each operations stage, companies have the opportunities to increase efficiency and drive higher performance. The key question is: How can they do that? The adoption of digital enablers and the drive to cloud-based services is the answer. Intelligent solutions that combine enterprise asset management (EAM) and asset performance management (APM) are booming, Intelligent Asset Management is revolutionizing operations.

By John Holmes and Mark Pyatt

Most businesses in manufacturing and resources have not defined a plan for the transformation of operations. Find out how to increase efficiency and drive higher performance. 

Everyone involved in operations—from workers on-site to plant managers and all the way up to the C-Suite—needs to better understand how the assets they operate are performing and how they can manage those assets to create more value, operate more efficiently, meet environmental goals and increase worker safety.

For years, the goal of integrating IT and operations to create new insights, inform decisions and strategically manage performance has remained just that: a goal. But now there’s a fast-building realization that the value being left on the table by not aggressively digitalizing operations is too great to ignore.

The value runs across the entire operational lifecycle from design and build to run and retire. At each stage, there are opportunities to increase efficiency and drive higher performance. With the worldwide adoption of digital enablers and the drive to cloud-based services, the demand for intelligent solutions that bring together enterprise asset management (EAM) and asset performance management (APM) is booming. So, the ‘why?’ is clear. ‘How?’ is a more complex question.

The IT/operations disconnect

Asset-intensive industries from energy and life sciences to natural resources and manufacturing have not, until recently, addressed operations with the same commitment to digital as they’ve brought to enterprise functions. In fact, most businesses in manufacturing and resources have not defined a plan for the transformation of operations.

And that’s perhaps not surprising. Digitizing operations presents a complex prospect for the traditional IT team that has tended to focus on enterprise functions such as HR and finance.

This long-standing disconnect between enterprise IT and operations has created many siloes and standalone solutions in the operational arena. These barely ‘talk’ to one another, let alone integrate effectively with enterprise systems.

Persistent challenges

Now, however, there is much more attention being paid to the digital transformation of operations. The emergence of cloud solutions has created a desire to standardize and integrate. Bringing IT and operations together is key to help drive plans for change. They need to collaborate on a value-based approach that specifies short-, medium- and long-term goals that will enable an effective transition to a new world of digital operations and solve some persistent challenges.

Bringing IT and operations together is key to help drive plans for change.

These range from increases in unplanned downtime to higher costs and lower yields. Data is not available where and when it’s needed or at the right level of quality. Maintenance is ad-hoc and reactive, with aging assets particularly susceptible to failure. Complex systems are hard to maintain. And inventory is hard to plan and manage in line with activities, resulting in high carrying costs. All these, and more, have a direct impact on operational KPIs.

Intelligent Asset Management

Accenture and SAP are working together to help achieve new levels of operational control, efficiency and effectiveness. Combining the strengths of SAP Intelligent Asset Management with Accenture’s industry knowledge, assets and accelerators, this co-development partnership promises to enable a new generation of operational capabilities.

First released in 2018, SAP Intelligent Asset Management (IAM) helps to bridge the IT and operations divide by connecting assets, people and processes across the enterprise and its business networks. Embracing asset performance management, maintenance, and operations with a network of asset intelligence from multiple systems, SAP Intelligent Asset Management offers a ‘single pane of glass’ through which to view the operational and asset lifecycle.

Assets in separate tools require considerable data exchange between them, with all the implications that have for complexity and potential errors. Integrating information from systems can now make advanced capabilities such as predictive and prescriptive analytics a reality.

A single pane of glass

While many of these capabilities have been around for a long time, bringing systems together is opening the door to using them effectively and introducing a whole range of new capabilities. For example, with environmental goals now becoming more important, the ‘single pane of glass’ that integrated systems can create, is delivering greater control, higher awareness, and increased ability to achieve new outcomes.

The single view enables a systemic approach that identifies the root causes of challenges and offers a new way to address them. It provides the full picture for solving underlying problems–rather than treating their symptoms—enabling a new perspective across the whole asset landscape, gaining actionable insights through analytics, and putting digital tools into users’ hands.

But while there is a strong appetite to get started, understanding how and where to do so is the challenge. The technology can now enable connections among assets, plants and headquarters. And that means supporting decision-making, portfolio management and supply chain management based on facts rather than estimates. But the biggest hurdle to taking advantage? Ensuring the behavior changes and the right skills are all in place.

Looking beyond tech

There are plenty of areas beyond technology that must be addressed to achieve effective digital operations. Data must be available in the right quantities and at the right level of quality. Putting the right information into workers’ hands so that they can make use of data and insights is also key. Perhaps most of all, significant behavioral change and upskilling are needed to make sure that the advantages of new solutions are maximized.

By working together on further developing SAP Intelligent Asset Management, Accenture and SAP are combining their strengths to shape new features and capabilities and, at the same time, put them into practice, drawing on Accenture’s deep industry understanding of the key challenges and opportunities facing specific industries. We are creating the intelligent asset management solution content, accelerators and methodologies that will help businesses take advantage of a new operational paradigm—and accelerate operations’ transformation for the digital era.


John Holmes

Managing Director – Industry X, Intelligent Asset Management North America Lead