With Latest Deals, Accenture Just Keeps Beefing Up Industry X.0 Initiative


Accenture's unveiling this week of two small acquisitions, one a done deal and the other planned, highlight the system integrator's growing push to grab a big slice of the market as customers implement digital transformation strategies. 

The Dublin, Ireland-based company, ranked number two in the 2018 Solution Provider 500, acquired Mindtribe, a San Francisco-based hardware engineering company that counts among its customer base such industry giants as Apple, Google, Tesla, Lyft, Adobe, Ferrari, and NASA.

The integrator also agreed to buy Pillar Technology, a Columbus, Ohio-based software development company with a focus on rapid and agile development of embedded software developed for smart and connected systems such as autonomous vehicles. 

The acquisitions, as well as the June acquisition of Designaffairs, a German strategic design consultant, are all a part of Accenture's Industry X.0 initiative, said Craig McNeil, managing director at Accenture and North American lead for Industry X.0.

[Related: Accenture Acquiring Two Firms To Expand Digital Transformation Effort]

Accenture's Industry X.0 initiative, which formally started about a year ago, is part of a three-pronged approach to digital transformation at Accenture, McNeil told CRN.

He said these include Accenture Interactive, which focuses on chief operating officers and what they are hoping to do with digital marketing; Accenture Applied Intelligence, which helps customers with artificial intelligence and data sciences; and Industry X.0, which is focused on helping customers move to a more smart and connected world.

When it comes to Accenture Industry X.0, it helps to think of taking a coffee maker, the design of which essentially hasn't really changed much in 50 years, and add smart sensors, McNeil said.

To add sensors, he said, coffee maker designers now need to understand electrical and mechanical engineering, how to retrieve and use data from the coffee maker, have an IoT platform to manage multiple coffee makers, add security, add new skills to design new features, design apps, and set up a new business model to sell coffee as a service.

Those are the skills Accenture brings to Industry X.0, McNeil said. "We really think this whole digital transformation is impacting all our clients," he said.

In the case of a new coffee maker design, Mindtribe would help coffee makers understand the sensors, the electromechanical engineering, and Wireless connectivity, McNeil said. Pillar Technology, he said, would focus on designing the software to make it all happen.

Industry X.0 is very much related to IoT, McNeil said.

"But it's just a part," he said. "Software and data is a part. Accenture has a very robust IoT business, Mindtribe and Pillar adds a lot to IoT. Before, you would need to outsource or partner on the engineering side. [This] really helps us get focused on the embedded software on top of the chips. We don't just want to be focused on IoT."

Meanwhile, the earlier Designaffairs acquisition helps move Accenture to the front of the overall customer design process, McNeil said.

"Designaffairs is strong in industrial design, and does a lot with German OEMs," he said. "When designing connected devices, you need a profound understanding of what's needed from an engineering perspective. And Designaffairs provides it."

McNeil could not offer the names of clients who have already worked with Accenture Industry X.0 because of confidentiality agreements. However, he said, customers already include a big-name consumer electronics manufacturer as well as an industrial customer who needed help with a full digital product lifecycle management program.

The three acquisitions Accenture Digital has made so far are not the last, McNeil said. "There will be more," he said. "I just can't say what we will be looking at."