The Government Office for Science, London report on ‘The Future of Manufacturing in UK’ highlights the role of technology in terms of painting a new vision for UK manufacturing in 2050.
“Manufacturing in 2050 will look very different from today and will be virtually unrecognisable from that of 30 years ago. Successful firms will be capable of rapidly adapting their physical and intellectual infrastructures to exploit changes in technology as manufacturing becomes faster, more responsive to changing global markets and closer to customers.”
This seems in line with an IndustryWeek survey of nearly 300 of the largest manufacturers across the globe aligned on the need to redefine ‘what it means to be the best’.
Six key imperatives
We see manufacturers forming a consensus around six key imperatives they are pursuing to sustain a competitive advantage:
- Build agile, resilient, and sustainable value chains to manage volatile demand and supply disruptions, and to make the enterprise more sustainable.
- Accelerate innovation with technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, IoT and others to make the transition to digital manufacturing.
- Grow revenues with products and services, taking advantage of connected products to design new services that help drive growth.
- Reskill, hire, and redefine the employee experience to create, maintain, and grow talent.
- Prepare for mergers, acquisitions, and growth with efficient and accessible business processes.
- Innovate faster, enhance scale, and grow profits with Industry 4.0 and cloud technologies.
Business Transformation and Cloud to be data informed
These imperatives mean that the progressive manufacturers need to reimagine a way forward. The transformation, which spans operating models, skills, and culture also requires organisations to look at and tackle several aspects within their IT infrastructure:
- leveraging data to make informed decisions at speed and scale;
- automating the business processes;
- enhancing with cyber security.
Going deeper into the technology, the challenge today really is technology debt i.e., multitude of fragmented systems in place for one single business process. Given the economic viability of Operating Technology (OT) now, many of these business processes can be reimagined by incorporating real time data.
Ultimately, the overarching issue with current way of consuming technology is a lack of ability to have a single landscape, across IT/OT that’s always current, secure, integrated end-to-end and automatically upgraded to be future fit.
However, now there is a possibility to change the technology consumption approach by leveraging cloud as the foundational technology. Modern cloud applications are inherently designed from scratch to:
- cater to today’s environment as standard features;
- automatically upgrade regularly to be future-ready;
- are always connected end-to-end to drive business process automation;
- provide data in meaningful ways to improve decision making;
- have built in cyber security at all levels.
Think of them like an ‘applications marketplace’ that most people are used to on their smart phones. Applications on the phone are easy to use, work together, secure, and automatically upgraded to be always fit for purpose.
Transformation in practice
Every cloud journey is unique to the business but undertaking it sooner than later is important to avoid falling behind more tech-savvy competitors. Here are a couple of examples of manufacturers turning to cloud to deliver on the six key imperatives.
As a manufacturer producing industrial equipment for hi-tech and semiconductors: this manufacturer was going through a period of acquisitions to consolidate its position in the market and its main challenge was to meaningfully integrate the acquisitions not just from a finance perspective, but also from engineering, production, and supply chain perspectives. However, the fragmented technology landscape, as mentioned earlier, was preventing this integration. After a very careful and deep evaluation, the manufacturer implemented a cloud first strategy to move forward. This allowed it to:
- provide a foundation for growth – support current growth and be ready for future with high degree of flexibility;
- drive cultural change;
- common ways of working to enable consistent execution;
- deliver transformation at a dramatically rapid pace compared to using traditional software.
As a global conglomerate that builds products to make buildings more efficient from sustainability perspective: this manufacturer’s key challenge was that it was not set-up to deliver the service experience to its customers in a seamless way across the entire organisation. It suffered from lack of single view of project metrics, a lack of ability to capture and invoice single order across multiple lines from different business units, customer service issues due to inconsistent business processes. All these issues were a direct result of fragmented landscape, not just across IT but IT/OT. Again, the organisation decided to leverage cloud as the way forward to:
- deliver on the changed market dynamics – digitalisation of the buildings (digital twins) and offering a more comprehensive set of offerings to its customers;
- support new service/outcome-based business models;
- establish one company approach by removing all silos;
- build a project-based agile organisation.
Partnering with Oracle
The chart below highlights the primary reasons that these manufacturers chose Oracle as their partner of choice.