2. General findings:
2.3 Key near-term opportunities and benefits
For most incumbent manufacturers, energy companies, agriculture producers and healthcare providers, the initial business case to justify the adoption of the Industrial Internet is based on incremental results in increased revenues or savings. As shown in Figure 2, our survey indicates that companies are turning to digital technology either to drive down cost or increase top-line growth: 79% of respondents indicate that “optimizing asset utilization” is a “very to extremely important” driver for adoption, while 74% say the same about creating alternative revenue streams through new products and services.
Accordingly, the most widely cited application of the Industrial Internet is predictive maintenance and remote asset management, which can reduce equipment failures or unexpected downtime based on the operational data now available. Early Industrial Internet adopters such as ThyssenKrupp, Caterpillar and Thames Water are already reaping these types of benefits. Specifically, Thames Water, the largest provider of drinking and waste-water services in the UK, is using sensors, analytics and real-time data to anticipate equipment failures and respond more quickly to critical situations, such as leaks or adverse weather events.12
Another key opportunity that early adopters of the Industrial Internet are pursuing is the improvement of worker productivity, safety and working conditions. Examples include using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to inspect oil pipelines, monitoring food safety using sensors, and minimizing workers’ exposure to noise, chemicals and other hazardous gases, especially in traditional heavy industries like oil and gas, manufacturing and chemicals. Schlumberger, for example, is now monitoring subsea conditions using unmanned marine vehicles, which can travel across oceans collecting data for up to a year without fuel or crew, moving under power generated from wave energy.13 Leading mining companies such as Rio Tinto have increasingly turned to new, more autonomous mining equipment to enhance mine productivity. By introducing remote monitoring and sensing technologies, these industries can dramatically decrease safety-related incidents, while making mining in harsh locations more economical and productive.
Many organizations see great potential in leveraging the Industrial Internet to offer differentiated customer experiences. In healthcare, hospital errors are still a leading cause of preventable death and patient suffering. Many of these errors are caused by false alarms, slow response and treatments based on inaccurate information. By networking distributed medical devices, alarms can become smarter, triggering only when multiple devices indicate danger to a patient. Connecting measurements to treatments further enables smart drug delivery systems to react to patient conditions much faster and more reliably than busy hospital staff. As a result, organizations can improve patient safety and experiences, and more efficiently use hospital resources.
For society at large, the Industrial Internet will provide many opportunities for citizens and governments at all levels to improve government services and enhance the quality of life. For example, ShotSpotter uses connected microphones to determine when gun shots are fired in public and helps police identify where the gun that fired them might be located. The city of Oakland, California, saw the largest drop in homicides among all major cities in the US in 2013, in part, as a result of the deploying such a system.14 Dozens of cities around the world are already turning to smart parking solutions, such as Streetline, to help drivers quickly and conveniently find available parking spaces. Governments can also use the Industrial Internet to support sustainability efforts by providing transparency on the utilization of resources like water, energy, fuel, fertilizers and pesticides. Such initiatives can ultimately lead to less waste and more accountability through public policies and market pricing designed to incentivize compliance and good stewardship.