Billions of better decisions

Industrial transformation's new imperative

Knowing more, doing better

The signals cannot be missed. Record temperatures. Wildfires raging. Once-in-a-century floods that now occur on an annual basis.

As the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions and the largest consumer of natural resources, industry has a critical role to play in meeting the Paris Agreement targets and preventing a catastrophic heating of our planet. The world is looking to industry to make better decisions. Decisions that change the way we live and work. To do this we must ensure every employee has the knowledge and visibility they need to make the right decisions at the right time. It’s clear that digitalization will play a major part in this profound shift. The question is: how can industry transform to do better?

Key Insight Digitalization and sustainability are two of the biggest drivers of change across industries today.

$7 trillion

Projected global spend on digital transformation from 2020 to 20231

To explore the evolution of digital transformation and sustainability strategies, ABB commissioned a global research study that asked over 700 key decision-makers across 12 industrial segments how their businesses will address these issues. This was supplemented by in-depth interviews with subject matter experts in these areas.

Key Insight The visibility and understanding that come with connectivity and analytics will power literally billions of better decisions.


of decision-makers say digitalization is “essential to sustainability”

Our research confirms harnessing digital solutions is fundamental to decarbonizing industry while still delivering on traditional priorities like agility, safety and overall equipment effectiveness. Yet despite a clear acceleration during the COVID-19 pandemic, digital transformation has yet to reach its full potential for most industrial organizations. Today, most industrial assets are not connected, and only a small fraction of the enormous volume of operational data industry generates is used to drive decisions. That needs to change. We must recognize that every member of the industrial workforce is a decision-maker, from technicians to equipment operators to facilities managers. We need to empower everyone with the actionable insights to make better decisions. For manufacturers, energy companies, and transportation operators, the visibility and understanding that come with connectivity and analytics will power literally billions of better decisions. This is industrial transformation's new imperative.

A unified transformation agenda

ABB’s research revealed a clear recognition that business performance and improved sustainability go hand in hand.


agreed that digitalization was essential to achieving sustainability objectives


have a publicly announced sustainability strategy

with 91 percent believing it is "somewhat" or "very comprehensive"

Today, there are real digital solutions to address sustainability challenges like greenhouse gas emissions, conserving precious natural resources and promoting social progress. Many of these solutions are made up of what is sometimes referred to as the “Industrial Internet of Things” (IoT).

Key Insight A single strategy that integrates business and sustainability targets optimizes the chance of successful transformation.

When we recognize sustainability and business strategies consistently overlap and employ a solution that addresses them both, we create the foundations for lasting, meaningful transformation. But right now, many digitalization and sustainability efforts are not optimized. Too many investments fail to deliver their desired return.

The reason for this? The failure to break down silos and to take a holistic, integrated approach to driving change. The key to avoiding this stumbling block lies in fusing digital transformation and sustainability in a single company agenda. This means, as one expert we interviewed put it, “moving from principles to practices.” Communicating corporate “purpose” is an important starting point for clarifying transformation goals, but it must be implemented on an operational level through better decisions and smarter actions. As societies look to accelerate their energy transition, we need a new, people-centric approach. Technologies like Industrial IoT can be systematically leveraged in areas such as energy management, asset management, circularity, smart cities, e-mobility and beyond. But first, let’s look at how Industrial IoT is being used right now.