The importance of data to the manufacturing industry is well-documented and universally understood. But how do you unlock the value wrapped up in it? The answer is advanced analytics.
At a recent Director’s Forum Dinner, hosted by The Manufacturer and SAS, manufacturers from across the industry discussed how to get the most out of their data and how to inculcate the culture needed to become a data-focused company.
Data, data everywhere
From the start, it was clear one question dominated discussions: how to make data simpler and more accessible? Delegates reported a plethora of data coming to them from disparate sources and systems, leading to a patchwork quilt that is difficult to understand and manage.
The answer is to introduce systems that standardise data and make it easy to access across a business. If different departments can understand the way data is collected and expressed, then teams can work across silos, and thereby find more and deeper insights.
The success generated by cross-business data mining will lead to greater collaboration, fostering a focused data culture with an organisation.
But, while collecting and standardising data is important, defining data is also vital. Data is often thought of as numbers that come from a machine to indicate how well that machine or a system is working.
This is structured data and it is easy to process, but what about unstructured data? These could include data from sources such as text, video or images – critical information, but all too often overlooked.
Accessing the intelligence behind such unstructured data can give a manufacturer a huge advantage, and delegates were told there are now tools available that can harness this power.
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Industry 4.0 is commonly understood as the trend toward automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, including cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things and cloud computing.
However, this is often misinterpreted to just mean the automation of basic physical and digital processes. Many manufacturers have already achieved this level of automation. So, they stop innovating, believing they’ve already achieved Industry 4.0.
In reality, Industry 4.0 encompasses so much more. We define it as using data across the entire value chain, and using that data to generate actionable insights and release monetary value.
Download our exclusive free eBook to learn how your business can realise the future of manufacturing today.
Culture eats strategy for breakfast
Delegates agreed that advanced analytics is a powerful tool for any manufacturer and can be used in a myriad of ways, but companies need the right strategy in place to make the most of it.
Knowing what the data is supposed to achieve – the destination and direction of travel of data projects – makes targets simpler to implement, and analytics become much easier as soon as you define what you want to get out of the process.
The final insight that emerged was that technical solutions are vital, but unless data management and analysis becomes something that is owned by the whole company, rather than something that is ‘handled by IT’, then a major opportunity will be missed.
In that sense, it is no different from the way a business might approach deploying the digital tools that are part of Industry 4.0. To be effective, culture must change. And that means the difference between success and failure is leadership and vision.
So, while advanced data analytics is crucial to running a successful business and staying competitive in the marketplace, diners agreed that, fundamentally, ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’.
For more information, please click here to download an exclusive free whitepaper, co-created with The Manufacturer.
Tim Clark, Head of Manufacturing at SAS UK & Ireland – www.sas.com/uk/manufacturing
Founded in 1976, SAS is a leading developer of analytics, data management and business intelligence software. It provides the insight needed to make faster, better decisions that benefit businesses. All Fortune 500 companies across 10 different industries rely on SAS.