A few months ago, I shared with you a fundamental dilemma manufacturers are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic: “Should I continue to focus on short-term measures to drive efficiency and reduce costs, or on building resilience into my organization to better adapt to change?”
I argued that the answer didn’t lie in choosing between one or the other, but in finding the right balance between the two.
Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with many of our manufacturing clients across sectors and geographies, who have been impacted by the pandemic in different ways. These conversations confirmed my five recommendations on how manufacturers can balance efficiency and resilience.
One key recommendation is becoming data-driven and using data insights to drive value. While manufacturers started this journey pre-COVID, the pandemic has catalyzed their efforts. For instance, to optimize processes and drive more value from data, one of the world’s top five automotive manufacturers is accelerating its enterprise-wide robotic process automation (RPA) initiative.
It’s also clear that the future of manufacturing will be ecosystem-driven to support growth through innovation. Michelin Group’s “Better Driving Community” initiative to build a smart mobility ecosystem that uses data to make driving safer is a powerful case in point. Manufacturers are also taking the inevitable step toward cloud-based production to bring together their internal and external ecosystems to improve collaboration and streamline processes, among other advantages. Adopting an ecosystem mindset and joining forces with new partners is also tied closely to transitioning to a services-led growth strategy.
I also suggested creating a more agile and resilient IT supply chain. Manufacturers seek to achieve this by harmonizing technologies and services using cloud technologies and smart managed services. An example is CAE’s efforts to optimize the performance and evolution of its mission-critical business applications, including deploying Oracle ERP Cloud.
One of the top three challenges for IT owners in manufacturing industries is driving IT modernization of applications and infrastructure. In post-pandemic interviews with clients, its importance ranking increased nearly 20%. Those manufacturers who weathered the crisis relatively well did so because they placed their bets on business agility even before the global pandemic hit.
Actionable insights to inform your investments and strategies
Nearly all manufacturers have a digital transformation strategy in place, but just a few are producing results from those digital strategies at an enterprise level. Ideas about what services to provide customers to get closer to them (from B2B2C to B2C), how to use the power of technology for optimizations and how to address business agility still dominate. These are tough questions that are unique to each client, their individual situation and market domain. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to answering the big question:
“How do I do it?”
In my experience, the insights from our Voice of Our Clients program provide a valuable global antenna for manufacturers—based on facts, not hype—to answer this question. As part of the program, we collect and share the top industry trends and business and IT priorities across our global manufacturing client base, as well as related industries. We also share leading practices from industry peers. As a manufacturer, these insights enable you to reflect on where you are in your journey and if you’re doing enough to become more agile to lead in a digital era.
Providing a global antenna for industry best practices
As entrepreneurs, manufacturers need to challenge themselves with the best. For many clients, being able to answer the question “what are my peers doing?” is invaluable. The Voice of our Clients program provides benchmarking data among peers and across industries and geographies on a variety of topics. In particular, information about what digital leaders are doing differently can be a game-changer.
Each year, we continue to interview an increasing number of C-suite and senior-level business and IT executives across manufacturing sectors, industries and geographies, deepening the breadth and depth of these insights. Don’t hesitate to contact me to learn how our insights from the manufacturing industry can help you build more value into your organization. Keep an eye out for more information about the 2021 Voice of Our Clients program.