Manufacturing trends for 2016: customers call the shots

Posted on 30 Dec 2015 by The Manufacturer

Prasad Satyavolu – Cognizant’s head of innovation, manufacturing and logistics – explores the key trends facing industry over the coming 12 months.

Prasad Satyavolu, head of innovation - manufacturing & logistics, Cognizant.
Prasad Satyavolu, head of innovation – manufacturing & logistics, Cognizant.

2015 has been a year where embedded technologies enabled manufactured products to be more “informed”; new stakeholders with innovative products and services entered the ecosystem; traditional supply chains have been disrupted through new channel options; and, above all, customers demanded an ever-increasing level of customization, not just in products and services, but also across the entire procurement and product usage experience.

It’s time to look at what 2016 holds in store for us:


Consumers’ buying behaviour is changing and today, it’s not just items such as clothes and electronics that are purchased online; often, the process of buying a car starts with online research.

Buyers used to speak to dealers and then make their decision, whereas now, a lot of the background work is happening online before ever reaching the dealership.

Car dealers have long been aware of this trend, and are working with car manufacturers to make the most of this trend. Some car manufactures, for example, have made creative use of augmented reality (AR) to establish virtual dealerships for potential car buyers to experience the ‘look-and-feel’ of a vehicle before purchase.

Increasing amounts of background reseaarch is now happening online.

As a result of the proliferation of consumer devices, there’s a step change in expectations in B2B environments as, ultimately, it is the user experience taking centre stage.

This means that traditional B2B manufacturing companies will increasingly adopt a B2C approach towards their B2B customers.

Connected cars and infotainment

A study by McKinsey suggested that a rise in the number of connected cars will see “the value of the global market for connectivity components and services” reach “€170 billion by 2020”.

For many, the car is now turning into an extension of the home, with drivers’ digital, social and mobile habits – underpinned by technology advances – being integrated into the vehicle.

Connected devices within the automotive industry is considered a massive growth market and is leading the way in development of the Internet of Things.
Cars are turning into an extension of homes, with drivers’ digital, social and mobile habits being integrated into the vehicle.

This trend is set to continue next year with car manufacturers keen to take advantage of monetisation opportunities around the connected car, not least by taking demographic tastes and needs into consideration, and applying these to the vehicles.

Through the use of sensors – which deliver data for analysis, the connected car provides yet another opportunity to understand driver characteristics, their needs, the features they might appreciate, while introducing an additional layer of safety.

Robotics and automation

Automation has started to infiltrate a number of industry sectors – from banking and insurance, to healthcare and manufacturing – to various degrees with increasing impact.

In fact, a recent study by Cognizant found that roughly 50% of respondents see automation as significantly improving processes over the next few years:

Barclay's - Automation Robotics Report
Automotive and vehicle manufacturers too have increasingly begun to make use of automation and automated processes.

As a result, automotive and vehicle manufacturers too have increasingly begun to make use of automation and automated process in a number of situations.

For example through Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), vehicle manufacturers are able to move to the next stage of autonomous driving, and we will see an increase in the use of this technology.

Secondly, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, another major enabler of autonomous driving.

For example, if there is a traffic incident ahead, current navigation systems offer a diversion around the traffic incident.

Thirdly, there are autonomous trucks which can provide relief to the driver during long-haul journeys and finally, autonomous drones will be increasingly used to inspect land and railways tracks, as well as aiding yard and inventory management.

These trends provide opportunities for organisations to rethink, reimagine and reinvent themselves and stay competitive by doing business more effectively and efficiently.

From two-way radios to smartphones, laptops to landlines, tablets to rugged handhelds no one is beyond reach in today's smart factory - image courtesy of DFC.
Manufacturers must fully embrace social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) and sensor technologies.

Manufacturers must fully embrace social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) and sensor technologies to achieve the operational excellence, agility, innovation and customer centricity required to remain relevant with customers, business partners and the entire manufacturing ecosystem.

Automate UK – growth through automation

The Automation Advisory Board Thought Leadership Network’s annual conference, Automate UK will provide the opportunity to hear from industry experts not only making the case for automation equipment, but showcasing what is available and what it’s capable of.

By learning from the most innovative manufacturers embracing automation – including BMW Mini; Jaguar Land Rover; Aston Martin; Accolade Wines; Greencore Group; Lambert Engineering; Philips AVENT; Brother Industries, and GKN Aerospace, Automate UK offers a unique benchmarking and learning experience to all those who attend.

With the limited free places available expected to go quickly, you’ll need to be swift to secure your place before full price tickets will be the only option available.

Find out more information here.