Manufacturing Finance Summit 2018: Moving beyond traditional ERP

Posted on 21 May 2018 by Jonny Williamson

In his keynote at this year’s Manufacturing Finance Summit, Robert Klein – solution specialist at Oracle NetSuite’s Supply Chain Centre of Excellence – described how modern ERP systems can enable ambitious growth ambitions.

Executives gathered to examine how the finance function is changing within UK industrial businesses at Manufacturing Finance Summit.
Executives gathered to examine how the finance function is changing within UK industrial businesses at Manufacturing Finance Summit.

Following a morning of roundtable conversations, Robert Klein took to the stage to deliver his Manufacturing Finance Summit 2018 keynote.

Klein began by describing the findings of a recent survey and report, published by The Manufacturer and Oracle NetSuite – Connected and Intelligent: The route to smarter manufacturing for SMEs.

More than 80 UK SME manufacturers participated in the survey, with turnovers ranging from £2m – £50+ and around three-quarters employing less than 250 people.

According to the findings, two-thirds (66%) of UK SME manufacturers view ‘product innovation’ as either their most important or second most important business priority.

Not far behind was ‘service innovation’ – no doubt a reflection of the rise of ‘servitization’ and the growing understanding that for manufacturers to flourish, they need to offer more than just physical products, Klein noted.

Conversely, management decisions around ‘organisational change’, ‘investment in both hardware and software’, and ‘data collection’ were all viewed as much less of a business priority.

Almost two-thirds (64.5%) described their business as having ‘ambitious growth plans’, and a further 30% expecting current growth levels to continue.

The Manufacturer has a number of upcoming ‘summits’ which follow the same interactive format:

How are these ambitions going to be realised? Almost half (40%) are developing new products, nearly one-in-five (19%) are looking at entering new geographies, and nearly a third (32%) are hoping to do both.

Communication, not collaboration

And yet, for 90% of the businesses surveyed, the primary method of communication was paper, email, fax and phone.

Klein noted: “Given that a fax is really just a faster letter without added intelligence, and an email, while offering some information benefits, is usually just used as an express letter, it could be argued that the majority of organisations have yet to take advantage of the opportunities to add intelligent insight which are available from modern, integrated systems.”

Furthermore, almost two-thirds (65%) of business polled said that their current ERP system was unable to support their growth.

Klein commented: “This is a significant finding. Without the right software, an enterprise can at best muddle through when it comes to the digitalisation of manufacturing (Industry 4.0); but in reality, it may well find its ambitions thwarted if the software can’t deliver or is perceived to be too complicated to operate.”

Enabling ambitious growth

In today’s world, people want to do more with less. It may be easier than ever to start a business, but it is far harder to achieve scale and grow; so, the key question for executives is, what business processes or functions can I automate in order to re-invest those resources into acquiring new customers?

The answer, according to Klein , was the cloud – enabling business to do more with less, and more efficiency.

By leveraging the power of the cloud, the Oracle Netsuite platform can help your business achieve greater international expansion, faster new product development, and improved service innovation.