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Digital and Physical Worlds Converge as Intelligence Moves to the Edge

Accenture Chief Technology Officer Paul Daugherty offers Accenture’s unique take on the Internet of Things.

August 2014

Global markets are abuzz with talk of the next big thing to revolutionize our world: the Internet of Things (IoT). Accenture Chief Technology Officer Paul Daugherty discusses how companies can leverage IoT to their advantage.

Q: What is your perspective on the Internet of Things trend?

A: This is a trend that is getting a lot of buzz in the market, and rightly so, given its broad impact on consumers and businesses. The Internet of Things is specifically about the world of connected things. On the surface, this trend is about having more things communicating with one another and with us. We view this as part of a broader trend called the “digital-physical blur,” which we identified in this year’s Accenture Technology Vision. IoT is disruptive not only for the sheer number of connected devices in existence, but also because they represent a wave of intelligent interfaces that allow more decisions to be made on the edge—at the point where digital and physical worlds converge—rather than in a centralized manner. Decisions can be made when and where they’re needed in informed, social, easy-to-use ways, allowing companies and governments to reimagine the possibilities for engaging with customers and citizens. The physical world is coming online as objects, devices, and machines acquire more digital “smarts.”


Paul Daugherty, Chief Technology Officer, Accenture


This is one of many trends driving digital disruption, fundamentally transforming traditional business models. It’s changing strategy and it’s changing how companies go to market, what products and services they offer, what markets they enter and compete in, and how they operate and team.

Q: What should companies be thinking about? 

A: IoT represents a new set of technology opportunities and challenges on many levels—it’s similar to what we faced in the early days of mobility, but now it’s magnified. It’s no longer about making sure apps and the Web can be accessed via a mobile device. It’s now the broader challenges of information technology versus operating technology. We have to think of the user experience all the way through to what data is needed, how it will be analyzed, and how that analysis will be used. Business processes will change, apps will change, and data management will change. Supply chains and operations will also change.

Companies today have to determine what value all these new technologies provide, and then engineer their business processes to include them. They need to ensure the data can flow—and that they can analyze it so that it’s not just more data, it’s useful data. They have to rethink everything, from their technology platforms to their talent to their customer engagement programs to their industrial operations.

Q: How is Accenture addressing these challenges with Oracle?

A: Accenture and Oracle are well positioned to help businesses take advantage of this digital-physical blur. Oracle’s integrated and engineered solutions help simplify the architecture and infrastructure of business analytics, allowing data and insights to flow to users, partners, and consumers. It’s a complex integration in many ways, and that’s why we are uniquely able to help here. We are extensively experienced at strategy, business process reengineering, and technology integration.

About Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services, and outsourcing company, with approximately 289,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments.

This advertorial was originally published in the August 2014 edition of Profit.
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