74% of manufacturers held back by disconnected data

Posted on 31 Mar 2022 by The Manufacturer

Almost three quarters (74%) of manufacturing and engineering companies post-pandemic are relying on legacy systems and spreadsheets to get tasks done, believing this inflexible, often out-of-date, disconnected data is sufficient to support corporate decision making, new research reveals.

According to digital workflow leader Intoware’s independent survey of 1,030 UK based industrial firms, the vast majority of manufacturers (86%) claimed to be data-informed and 76% said that they trust data enough to complete tasks, this is despite most of them relying still on disparate legacy systems.

Keith Tilley, CEO, Intoware. Image credit: IntowareIntoware CEO, Keith Tilley, said: “The survey shows that manufacturers believe they are data-driven, when in reality they could be relying on old, out-of-date data. This disconnected data acts like a ball and chain, tying down your staff as they spend a huge amount of time trying to unlock data trapped in spreadsheets and legacy systems to meet the demands of businesses, customers and regulators.

This research shows that over three quarters, 77% of senior decision makers have access to data and the large majority 82%, believe that data is an asset, which is very good news. However, just under half of those surveyed, 47% use data only occasionally to help get the job done – as the reality is that their data is siloed.

Almost three-quarters of those surveyed, 71% are interested in using digital software ‘tools’ to support their role, it seems that a significant minority simply don’t have the skills to use the new data these systems provide, with 21% feeling overwhelmed and another 24% feel only slightly confident when using data to back decision making, that is almost half, 45% of those surveyed.

Despite this, when it comes to passing on critical skills and expertise from ageing workers to help plug the skills ‘gap’ for the next generation, almost three quarters 74% see digital ‘tools’ as playing a valuable part in sharing knowledge. So, it’s no surprise that 60% intend to invest in data skills, training and development in 2022 to help meet this challenge.

While it seems that a culture of un-informed decision making still persists for many, with just over a quarter 26% having made decisions based on ‘gut-feel’ during their careers, with 21% doing this on a monthly basis and a worrying 16% each week.

This culture goes right to the very top of businesses, with just under a third, 28% of senior decision makers and 27% of managers relying on ‘gut-feel’ all the time. This can have serious implications, such as when managers need to introduce engineering changes without assessing the impact on current works or raw materials for example – which are all factors that are detrimental to business performance.

Intoware’s CEO, Keith Tilley, added: “A reliance on siloed data severely hinders business operations with accountability and visibility issues, as each department has their own interpretation of data, which is a problem for businesses that are increasingly under pressure to evolve how they manage resources and communicate data insights.

“If you digitise paper-processes with work-instruction ‘tools’ that integrate with connected smart devices and third-party systems, this information can be more easily shared, providing staff with access to quality data, and a ‘single source of truth’ right across the business, for more proactive and rapid, ‘real-time’ insights to improve productivity and satisfy compliance.”

As businesses persist in the belief that they are data-driven by relying on spreadsheets, legacy systems and ‘gut-feel’, it will negatively impact on their efforts to be more competitive as staff spend time gathering and cleaning data just to respond to requests, which means they risk not focusing on the insights that will really add value and future growth.

This research survey was conducted by Surveygoo among 1,030 industrial businesses, between 28 February and 3 March 2022.

For further information please visit: www.intoware.com/news/disconnected-data