Today, virtually all industrial equipment manufacturers around the world are exploring how they can better serve their customers with help of digital transformation of their offerings. The equipment vendors are energized by the chance of being able to build closer and deeper customer engagement through the industrial Internet of Things (IoT) and other digital channels. IoT, for example, offers the vendors the game-changing ability to understand in real time how their products are being really used by customers, together with insights into each product’s current and future status. This information opens the way to the creation of new, improved customer services that were never previously possible.
Increasing investments in Digital
After years of investing in core digital automation and control technologies, the asset intensive process industries have shifted their priorities to other areas such as maintenance. However, as technology costs decline and digital solutions become more viable, these companies must move beyond simply piloting new digital technologies into deployment at scale to see the benefits of digital.
A digital enablement plan, with a digital vision embedded in the business strategy, will allow asset intensive industries not only to realize a reduction in operating costs via accelerated and broader operational efficiencies, but also to achieve the fundamental transformation in their business that these technologies can bring.
The level of new digital technology investment is increasing in asset intensive industries. Analytics, including big data, by a large margin is viewed to be the number one digital technology that will impact performance. Along with analytics and mobility, cybersecurity is seen as one of the top digital technologies having an impact on operational performance. Leading companies of the future will be those that fully exploit big data and analytics and in parallel increase focus on industrial cybersecurity measures, as companies seek to offset the greater risk of cyberattack that comes with more connected operations and assets.
Intelligent asset management and digital maintenance
During installation and maintenance, smart products can share their usage and maintenance history and “needs” to the engineering teams. At the same time, artificial intelligence (AI) is taking on more sophisticated roles within the technology interfaces. One example are the Virtual Engineers, AI enabled assistants that can join the maintenance visits. The potential is promising: in a recent study, average resolution and fix time of infrastructure issues by Virtual Engineers was cut up to 93%.
Shifting the focus to consumer-style experiences
Also the expectations of the business customers are changing. Traditionally, the business model has involved selling and servicing equipment for a customer base that is equally engineering-minded as the seller. Today, every buyer of assets has become accustomed to the convenient and compelling experiences provided by digital services in their private lives. As these buyers go to supplier’s customer portal or online parts ordering service, they are comparing that to the digital experience they are used to elsewhere.
From products to services
The digital leaders in industrial equipment are moving away from the traditional model of selling and servicing products, toward a new model based on selling services or outcomes. Thus, the equipment manufacturers’ value proposition to customers is based not on selling them a piece of hardware, but on continued availability and the fitness of equipment to fulfill its desired function – be it propelling an aircraft, drilling for oil or maintaining the power supply to a city.
With this type of service-based offering, the equipment supplier takes responsibility for maintenance and parts, freeing up the customer to focus on its own core business. This also means that the manufacturer embeds itself more deeply into the customer’s operations and supply chain – thus increasing customer “intimacy” and providing the supplier with greater means of helping their customers achieve business goals.
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Text written in co-operation with:
Arto Makkonen, Nordic Lead, Industry X.0, Accenture Digital, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ari Torpo, Managing Director, Automotive and Industrial Equipment Nordic, Accenture, email@example.com
The text has been up-dated in July 2020, due to company name change to Neles.