Manufacturers accelerate technology adoption in race to the new normal

ERP industrial manufacturing facility   factory EAM 2  

May 6, 2021

By Dean Petrone, SVP Infor Industry 4.0

Editor’s note: Here is a preview of some topics that will be addressed at Industry Connect, a virtual conference Infor is hosting Tuesday, May 11, 11 am to 1 pm ET on the state of manufacturing today and the new normal on the horizon. Guest speakers will include Paul Tate, Co-founder Manufacturing Leadership Council/ Editor of MLC Journal; Chad Moutray, Chief Economist, National Association of Manufacturers; Mark Cotteleer, Managing Director, Deloitte; Robby Cullens, VP of Information Technology, Georgia-Pacific; Andrew Kinder, SVP Industry Strategy, Infor; James Toomey, SVP of Innovation, Infor. Please join us.

The state of the industry today

Manufacturers worldwide are eager for signs of recovery and are also bracing for the next wave of change it will bring. The new normal will be fiercely competitive. While some manufacturers spent the past year in a holding pattern, others accelerated their adoption of digital technologies. Those early adopters have kindled new market expectations for speed, value, and customer engagement. It’s a new era, new rules, new ways to achieve success.

Improving visibility in the supply chain, accommodating digital commerce, adopting safe distancing within plants, and enacting new safety protocols for employees were among the typical “adapt-to-survive” tactics completed in 2020.

Pragmatic manufacturers focused on the long-term opportunities. They accelerated digital initiatives and fast-tracked deployment of cloud-based solutions to take advantage of emerging micro-markets, shifts in consumer attitudes, and a move to regional sourcing. The ability to stand up new business models quickly proved valuable for the entrepreneurial minded.

Many manufacturers used the time to direct energies toward R&D, building partnerships at regional levels, testing new pricing models, and migrating solutions from on-premises to the cloud. Use of ecosystems and partnerships also escalated, proving to be effective in co-innovation and problem-solving.

"When the pandemic impacted businesses a year ago, most brands and enterprises scrambled to accelerate digital transformation efforts," writes R Ray Wang of Constellation Research in a recent blog post. He reports that efforts have ranged from rekindling digital channel projects to forging new digital revenue streams. "These accomplishments accelerated five years of digital transformation in less than one year's time."

The survey says …

Deloitte, a leading consulting firm and Infor partner, will share findings from its recent survey of manufacturers at Industry Connect. For example, the survey found 62% of manufacturers are committed to continuing or accelerating their factories' digital transformation. On average, manufacturers expect to apply 36% of their factory investments toward smart manufacturing, an impressive 20% increase over last year's figure.

“The disruption and economic hardship caused by the ongoing pandemic have increased the urgency to accelerate smart manufacturing initiatives for future competitiveness,” the report states.

What will the next era look like?

As economic recovery is taking shape, manufacturers are gearing up. Those who tabled technology investment will need to catch up quickly with the must-have capabilities for the next era:

Smart. Manufacturers must be able to capture data, aggregate, and analyze it to derive meaningful insights. Manufacturers can turn to tools that make applying artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology simple. Data should be consumable, easy to access, and easy to tailor for business roles.

Holistic. Manufacturers need to see the big picture. End-to-end visibility with every app or point solution fully integrated is a necessity. Whether there are multiple business units, multiple locations, different currencies and tax laws, or complex go-to-market structures, “one version of the truth” is essential.

Cloudy. Cloud deployment is key. Today’s modern technologies, like AI and ML, the Internet of Things, and e-commerce, require vast amounts of data. Cloud solutions provide that kind of elastic capacity.

Flexible. Manufacturers need solutions that are highly flexible, able to be personalized for dashboards, reporting, and user-defined key performance indicators.

How to get started?

Research options. You need to work with a solution provider that is knowledgeable, reliable, and has deep industry-specific expertise. Understand what type of modernization you want to undertake. Seek out companies that want to partner on your journey to the future.

Attend Industry Connect. Join us May 11 for a few hours packed with valuable information. Hear from several experts, learn more about the latest trends, and ask questions.

Act now. Don’t put off digital initiatives. Remaining relevant requires modern technology that meets the challenges of tomorrow. Greater speed, value, and customer engagement are only the beginning. Are you ready?

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