Manufacturing leaders are increasingly hearing about IoT and Industry 4.0. They may be forgiven for wondering if they’re relevant to their particular business, the products they make in their particular market place, or even worth thinking about in these uncertain times. But manufacturers are also aware that they now operate in a business environment that is rapidly changing around them. Their businesses increasingly struggle to compete against organisations, which have achieved digital transformation in line with manufacturing trends. IoT and Industry 4.0 are gateway terms that - along with CRM implementation – are driving trends in manufacturing, which organisation decision-makers will have to address if they wish to realistically achieve measurable business outcomes in the new Industry 4.0 world.
IoT – or - The Internet of Things - is at the centre of today’s industrial transformation, estimated to have already generated revenue valued at GBP 128 billion, and providing companies with a competitive edge. ‘Connected technology’ has streamlined and simplified many manufacturing processes, which has seen the industry leading the way on IoT. One everyday example is the reduced cost and waste of real-time feedback on a list of companies associated with defective and damaged goods.
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The evolution of the ‘interconnected factory’ now sees equipment that is always online, intelligent and capable of making its own decisions. The arrival of ‘smart factories’, complete with integrated IT systems can more easily provide relevant data to both sides of the supply chain, thereby increasing productivity and production capacity by up to 20 per cent. Today, the advanced algorithms of AI and Machine Learning are transforming the way manufacturing industries collect information and their ability to predict customer behaviour. Digitised manufacturers can now achieve a lower cost of production, quicker turnarounds, and meet customer demand more effectively.
Ability to access and use data from multiple digital channels of customer engagement
Following implementation of CRM, maximisation of customer engagement across digital channels is undoubtedly a major driver of ensuring continued business success for manufacturing organisations. More than 1 in 3 (37 per cent) of companies said they increased customer engagement after digital transformation (Economist Intelligence Unit (EUI), compared to nearly half (41 per cent) who admitted that predicting customer demand remains a top pressure for their business.
Where those manufacturers which often struggle to predict demand and analyse customer data, the creation of a ‘smart factory’ with an integrated platform solution means they now have the ability to access and use data from multiple digital channels of customer engagement. The customer is involved at every stage of the process and supplied with all the information they increasingly demand and expect.
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Essential manufacturer’s tool in effective Industry 4.0 customer engagement
Data and the analysis of the vital information it can provide is now an essential manufacturer’s tool in effective Industry 4.0 customer engagement. While some smaller manufacturers operating in more niche marketplaces, and with a correspondingly smaller customer base, might claim that data is not necessarily an issue it's predicted that by 2020, there will be 50 times more digital content than exists today. No matter the company and customer size, big data analysis will become increasingly difficult and time consuming as even the digitised manufacturer struggles to manage, update, and analyse the ever growing volume of product and customer information available.
Information on items such as supply, delivery and customer support, which are used in many different ways can often be complicated to work with and difficult to find. Forward-looking organisations are now actively involved in a ‘blended approach’ to storing, managing, and processing their everyday requirements by opting to move content to the cloud, as well as retaining onsite.
Perceived skills gap is a growing major concern
The emergence of Industry 4.0 is not only accelerating the demand for manufacturers to make the necessary transition through digital transformation, there is also the accompanying pressure to increase productivity and cut costs. As workplace demographics continue to shift, and employers struggle to meet business targets and customer fulfillment demanded by Industry 4.0, the perceived skills gap is a growing major concern. Organisations are now being forced to confront the issue of attracting new talent as well as upskilling the current workforce.
Company staff are the most valuable of company assets. Increased employee morale is known to reduce attrition – by up to 37 per cent, according to an Altimeter Group study 2016. However, attracting new talent is now crucial to being able to compete against current and future industry disruptors. Right now, the creation of a digitally transformed workplace is winning the war on talent by offering progressive environments that an increasingly digitally skilled workforce now expect.
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