Maneuvering the Manufacturing Maze: How Organizations Can Transform through Times of Change


Deb Geiger, VP Global Marketing, Aegis Software

Manufacturing Maze
Manufacturing Maze

When it comes to manufacturing digitalization, many organizations know what they need to do but can’t bring themselves to do it. To succeed in a post-COVID-19 world, however, manufacturers will need to embrace change or risk becoming extinct.

IDC Research and Aegis Software recently presented a webinar on the intelligent approach to digitalization. Kicking off the webinar was an overview of the book by Dr. Spencer Johnson titled “Who Moved My Cheese?” This book is an analogy to the world many manufacturers face today and in the foreseeable future. It’s a cautionary tale about the dangers of complacency and the importance of embracing change. Cheese is used as a metaphor for what you desire, the maze is the journey, and the cheese continues to move.

This blog post will cover the key themes of the webinar, including the impact of COVID-19 on digital strategies, today’s top business initiatives, how organizations are responding to disruptions, and how the right manufacturing operations platform will enable data-driven decision making, digitization, innovation, and re-imagining.

The Impact of COVID on Digital Strategies

COVID-19 has had an impact on nearly every area of manufacturing. From changing work models to becoming more hybrid, increasing cloud usage and automation, and unleashing contactless customer experiences, and more, the industry has drastically evolved in the past two years.

The vast majority of companies surveyed by IDC Research in its “Future Enterprise Resiliency & Spending Survey” say they want to or are already taking a ‘digital-first’ strategy in response to COVID-19. Only 2.3% of manufacturers said they didn’t feel there was a need to adopt such a strategy. While 15.6% said disruptions from the pandemic highlighted a need to shift to a digital-first strategy, but they are still figuring out how. The highest percentage of respondents (31.5%) said they are starting to execute their strategy. Further, 28% said they have already shifted to a digital-first approach and are continuing to expand, while 22.4% say they have already recognized the need for a digital-first approach and had already changed before the pandemic.

Having digital initiatives in place has been found to diminish the impacts of disruption. Recent IDC insights indicate that digital manufacturers have greater revenue and profit performance than non-digital manufacturers. So, the recognition of the need for a digital-first strategy is there—but doing something about it is critical.

Today’s Top Business Initiatives and Investment Areas for Manufacturers

Manufacturers are busy focusing on today’s top initiatives and determining where to invest to improve for the future. According to IDC Research, manufacturers’ current operational focus areas include production costs, quality management, supply chain management, staffing and talent, risk management, and new product integration. In the next 12 months, manufacturers are also looking at the following areas as their biggest business priorities: operational efficiency, employee productivity, profits, customer satisfaction, innovation, revenue, cost savings, less time to market, less business risk, and innovation.

Innovation is key to transforming manufacturing in times of change, and data underpins innovation. Using data to make better decisions allows for greater innovation and readiness as Industry 4.0 progresses. Now, manufacturers are asking themselves how they will achieve data-driven innovation.

According to IDC Research, 65% of organizations began tracking and measuring new KPIs in the past 12-24 months. Moreover, decision-makers want instant access to actionable information from anywhere they are. But IT is not keeping up with demands from the business. In fact, 91% of organizations rank data and analytics as a competitive advantage/differentiator, but only 24% can extract value from the data. For IT, getting ahead of the data curve is key to meeting the increased speed that companies require to fuel innovations.

How Manufacturers are Responding to Disruption

The past two years have been full of business disruptions. Amid these disruptions, digitally minded manufacturers recognize that data-driven decision-making is critical for operational processes and seek to maximize the value of data. Having data that’s both actionable and contextualized empowers manufacturers to make better decisions. And the amount of data will only continue to increase—according to the IDC “Enterprise Resiliency & Spending Study” in February 2021, operational data generation will increase 2X–5X over the next five years. With more data on the way, managing this information will become more of a challenge for those who aren’t committed to transforming.

Embracing a robust digital platform has been shown as the best way to adopt a digital strategy and enable data-driven decision-making. Manufacturers are also continuing to use automation to drive meaningful improvements. Some of the most significant benefits of automation include monitoring and diagnosing assets, ensuring quality, and enabling supply chain functions. The ability to use data to make decisions in these areas is essential.

The Right Platform Can Help Organizations Digitize, Innovate, and Re-Imagine

The key to ensuring organizations can benefit from digitization is having the right system to help them harness data to inform decision-making and drive innovation. Regardless of the technology solutions you have today or are considering adopting in the future. You must take a data-first approach.

One of the primary drivers of today’s new era is actionable intelligence. Manufacturers know they need to become more agile to respond flexibly to stay competitive. But without real-time visibility and intelligent insights, they will never be able to keep pace and adapt. The right manufacturing operations platform will enable you not just to digitize—but to truly re-imagine.

A solution like Aegis’ FactoryLogix is built for Industry 4.0 and has a data contextualization foundation layer at its core. As a result, every conceivable piece of incoming data can be correlated against the CAD data and stored in a meaningful manner. When connecting to IT or OT systems, the server infrastructure, database, solution area capabilities, and analytics work effortlessly, and information is made meaningful and actionable.

With a platform like FactoryLogix, manufacturers can adapt to changing demands, ensure consistency, drive innovation, eliminate waste, reduce costs and errors, improve collaboration, reduce production delays, maximize uptime, minimize shortages, increase throughput, and drive continuous process improvement. And in today’s constantly changing manufacturing landscape—one where the elusive cheese is always moving—all these areas are an absolute must for manufactures who are seeking transformation to remain successful.

Watch the webinar here: Who Moved My Cheese?

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