This article first appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of The Record.
Manufacturers are facing a challenge when it comes to maintaining and enhancing their position in today’s competitive market.
Until now, many domestic manufacturers have chosen to outsource operations to keep costs down. But increased automation in manufacturing processes has closed the differences in cost. Now, with the innovative use of technology, manufacturers can enhance their competitive position on a global level.
Recent research from PWC found that Industry 4.0 has moved from talk to action, with 76% of manufacturers planning high levels of digitisation within five years, targeting benefits of 2.9% additional revenue and operational cost reductions of 3.6%.
These digital transformation initiatives take many forms – from product development, engineering and production, through to supply chain integration and delivering an enhanced customer experience.
The commercial reality is that successful digital transformation is dependent on the early demonstration of value, particularly when it comes to meeting customer price, quality and availability expectations.
Breaking down digital transformation into digestible, actionable components is the first step. No matter how basic, implementing new technologies, best practice methodologies and improving skills deficits all lead to a winning approach.
Emerging technologies, such as Microsoft’s internet of things (IoT) suite, will capture data from various manufacturing systems. Now combine this with Microsoft business intelligence tools and you have additional insight that can be leveraged, helping you to increase efficiencies within your manufacturing process. However, the application of tracked, data-rich communication tools can provide quicker and more effective short-term wins by refining lean manufacturing, and enabling tighter supply chain integration. Enhanced communications make working with members of your organisation and supply chain easier, and have a disproportionate impact on the pricing and availability of components or sub-assemblies.
Equally, purchasing managers, who traditionally focus on price reduction, are increasingly placing greater value on supply chain robustness and integrity. According to Gartner, 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience. Self-service portals are pivotal and provide customers with access to quality information when and where it is convenient for them. Ultimately, clear communications can help win more business.
Manufacturers should target digital transformation projects that deliver quick and big wins based on what their customer’s value. While Microsoft’s groundbreaking IoT and analytics technologies will enhance manufacturing efficiency, organisations like Bottomline Technologies can quickly enhance your supply chain transactions and communications.
Ian Bamber is head of product for financial document automation at Bottomline Technologies
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