The Manufacturing Industry is Changing Fast — How Prepared are You?

Technology is disrupting the manufacturing industry, and with any type of change, comes opportunity. ChainLink Research recently released two reports about how digital technology is affecting today’s manufacturers. The first report, Digital Displacement, explores how these digital advancements are impacting manufacturers’ products. There is a lot of good information in this report, and I recommend that you give it a review.

A few takeaways to consider as you navigate this new digital environment:

  • It’s all about me. At least that’s what your customers believe and are consistently expecting. The digital world has brought about a new era of “always on” connectedness. Your customers can now bypass traditional purchasing channels and interact with you directly via social media or through other fulfillment/maintenance services they receive. This ubiquitous digital connectivity also breeds a growing expectation for instant, and individualized, responses. Customers want real-time information about product availability, customization options and they want products fulfilled their way. Your company will need to be able to adapt its manufacturing and fulfillment processes to meet their growing needs.
  • You’re on call, 24/7. The always-on mentality of the digital world is pervasive, and manufacturers’ response capabilities will need to be supported by automated processes. Agility will be a key factor, as manufacturers will need to be able to quickly shift their manufacturing strategy and supply chain processes to address market changes. Relying on inventory as a buffer will no longer be effective from a cost or customer service perspective.  As omni-channel continues to grow, the challenges of where, when and how much inventory is staged will require increased visibility and collaboration. Additionally, as customers look for personalized experiences, supply chain segmentation capabilities will become more critical to manufacturers’ success.
  • Product, meet the backseat. Sure, product features are still important. But convenience and digital connectedness are increasingly playing a greater role in the purchasing process. Easy research and comparison options abound, driving more competition for that customer’s spend.  Consequently, manufacturers will need to rethink the entire product development process — considering the digital component of physical products, as well as service and fulfillment options — to create a complete customer experience. New products, embedded with technology that enables automatic refills or upgrades, are ushering in opportunities for new digital platforms and revenue models. When a customer purchases a product in the future, they will be considering the entire experience, or outcome, as part of their decision-making process. A product that is fulfilled but with a poor experience, may not be ordered in the future — or a different source may be considered.  This will require manufacturers to adopt new ways of thinking around products, and the corresponding production processes.

To read the full report, access: Digital Displacement: How Can Manufacturers Thrive in the Omni Age of Social, Mobile, IoT and Digital Everything?

In my next post, we’ll explore key takeaways from ChainLink Research’s report, Your Supply Chain Is Calling You, which focuses on how these digital advancements are impacting manufacturers’ supply chains.

  10 Comments   Comment

    • Kedar – thank you – I appreciate the feedback, it’s always challenging to keep up with demanding customers and the quickly changing landscape!

      Reply
  1. Agility has become the keyword to all commerce regardless of the channels. But how we implement that still seems to an open question.

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    • Ed, good point – being able to quickly adjust to customers only continues to rise in importance for effectively driving profit. Successful companies are those that have figured out how close that gap between what happens in the digital world and actual fulfillment. Personally, I feel that increased collaboration and trust between partners is an imperative to help make this process successful.

      Reply
  2. Our manufacturing clients certainly feel the pressure of greater expecatations as a result of all the hype around big data and IoT. It’s now a matter of the industry responding approprately and in a tumely manner so that they can deliver to those expectations. Truly harnessing the power of new, disruptive technologies will be key in shaping the manufacturing landscape this year.

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    • Natalie – great point – all this data, all this potential – but we have to be able to leverage and respond to it – profitably – with a customer focus. Stay tuned to JDA.com for survey results from a Digitization survey – very interesting insights there that support your points as well!

      Doug

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