Growing Urgency to Embrace Big Data to Advance Industrial Internet

Less than one-third of companies have predictive analytics, although big data is a top priority for 88 percent of executives


New YorkOct. 24, 2014—A new global study, Industrial Internet Insights for 2015 from GE and Accenture, reveals there is a growing urgency for organizations to embrace big data analytics to advance their industrial Internet strategy. However, less than one-third (29 percent) of the 250 executives surveyed for the study are using big data across their company for predictive analytics or to optimize their business.

But progress is underway. The majority of the companies (65 percent) use big data analytics to monitor their equipment and assets to identify operating issues and enable proactive maintenance. Sixty-two percent implemented network technology to help gather vast amounts of data in dispersed environments such as remote wind farms or along oil pipelines.

"Few technology areas will have greater potential to improve the financial performance and position of a commercial global enterprise than predictive analytics,” according to Kristian Steenstrup and Stephen Prentice, Gartner.

Two-thirds (66 percent) of the executives surveyed across eight industrial sectors believe they could lose their market position in the next one to three years if they do not adopt big data, which the report suggests is needed to support their industrial Internet strategy. Additionally, with 93 percent already seeing new market entrants using big data to differentiate themselves, 88 percent of the executives stated that big data analytics is a top priority for their company.

Nearly half (49 percent) of the companies represented in the study said they plan to create new business opportunities that could generate additional revenue streams with their big data strategy, while 60 percent expect to increase their profitability by using the information to improve their resource management.

“The industrial Internet, fueled by machine-to-machine data inputs, has the potential to drive trillions of dollars in new services and overall growth. But to reap those rewards, industrial companies will need to use insights about their customers and their customers’ use of industrial goods to build new offerings, reduce costs and reinvest their savings,” said Matt Reilly, senior managing director, Accenture Strategy. “To get there, many must work through a multitude of issues to use their machine data for more advanced forms of predictive data analytics, including sourcing the right analytics talent to ensure effective execution and scaling of analytics programs.” 

Paving the Way to Adoption

Despite the sense of urgency, there are roadblocks to realization. More than one-third of the executives (36 percent) said system barriers between departments prevent collection and correlation of data. Twenty-nine percent said it is difficult to consolidate disparate data and to use the resulting data repository. Security also ranks high as a challenge with less than half (44 percent) reporting an end-to-end solution to defend against cyber-attacks and data leaks.

“The payoff from joining industrial big data and predictive analytics to benefit from the productivity gains the industrial Internet has to offer is no longer in doubt,” said Bill Ruh, vice president, GE Software. “The tally of success for industry is evidenced by the greater visibility and speed to decision across operations and asset performance management. But data alone won’t generate value. To make information useful requires an investment in new capabilities and talent that will serve as a catalyst for extracting value quickly.”

Additional Industry Highlights

By and large, the executives surveyed acknowledged the importance of big data analytics, but their responses varied by sector.

  • Prioritization: Aviation executives (61 percent) most often placed a higher priority on big data analytics as compared to about 30 percent or less for industries such as power distribution (28 percent), power generation (31 percent), oil and gas (31 percent), and mining (24 percent).
  • Adoption: Railroad (40 percent) and power generation (38 percent) companies most frequently said their big data analytics capabilities advanced to a level of maturity that includes predictive and optimization capabilities.
  • Implementation: Wind energy companies most frequently (61 percent) said they plan to use big data analytics to help them create new business opportunities with new revenue streams. Railroads (73 percent) were most likely to plan to use big data analytics to gain insights into equipment/asset health for improved maintenance. Mining (71 percent) most often planned to use it to achieve increased profitability through improved resource management.


Recognizing that big data analytics is the foundation of the industrial Internet, Accenture and GE fielded a survey that explored the state of big data analytics and how it is being viewed across eight industrial sectors in China, France, Germany, India, South Africa, the UK and the United States. They included the aviation, wind, power generation, power distribution, oil and gas, rail, manufacturing and mining industries. Companies represented had revenues in excess of $150 million, with more than half of them having revenues of $1 billion or more. More than half of the respondents were CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CIOs and CTOs, but the sample also included vice presidents and directors from information technology, finance, operations and other cross-functional management areas.  

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