In the past, manufacturers did not need to worry about delivering an excellent customer experience. However, now that the manufacturing industry has moved from a business-to-business model to a business-to-business-to-consumer model, the only path to success is for them to shift focus and become more customer centric.
The increasing pace of change and competition, along with evolving customer expectations for quick turnaround times on their orders, means manufacturers need to react faster, and more confidently, than ever before. To do this, they must reduce the time it takes to get their products to market without increasing costs. Thankfully, continuous improvement has long been the watchword of manufacturing organisations and many are turning to digital transformation.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are still essential for manufacturers because they provide visibility, traceability, quality management and planning capabilities that help to minimise costs. Therefore, manufacturers who want to optimise capacity, respond to market demand and manage supply chain dynamics can benefit from ERP solutions.
Today’s ERP systems are no longer large and monolithic; now ERP is all about being agile in the cloud. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so manufacturers should consider various parameters. These include depth of functionality, future development path, flexibility to adapt to changing business models, integration with existing systems, cloud versus on-premise, and overall usability.
Cloud-enabled analytics platforms give manufacturers much greater visibility into their operations, and they have access to more diverse data sources. The possibility of accessing such a large volume of data can be daunting, but it is easy for manufacturers to extract, store, analyse, manage and protect their data if they choose the right tools and systems.
While most manufacturers want to move to the cloud, the reality is that many are anxious about doing so. Concerns about high costs, difficulty in replicating customisations, and security mean that some manufacturers stick with legacy, on-premise solutions, rather than moving to cloud-based solutions to benefit from the agility, speed and cost savings benefits.
In today’s challenging economic and competitive environment, it’s vital for manufacturers to future-proof their businesses by putting the right infrastructure and digital technology in place to help them work smarter and pivot easily to meet customer demand. Implementing the best technology with the right partner puts manufacturers in the ideal position to outperform and outmanoeuvre the competition.
Paul Timmins is global director for Microsoft at DXC Technology