Expert insight from Itelligence, the global SAP partner, shows where intelligent manufacturing firms are placing their priorities for IT investment.
High-tech and electronics manufacturing industries are constantly under pressure to improve product quality and expand their product portfolios. The ability to react to rapidly changing market conditions, while automating processes and standardising products is of prime importance.
But which IT technologies should be prioritised in order to support this imperative?
Avoiding fads and fashions
Technology solutions are rising thick and fast and each is sold as a game changer. One technology trend which seems to be on everyone’s lips at the moment is that of mobile technology. However, Itelligence has found that manufacturers are treating this trend with justifiable caution. Certainly Itelligence representatives would fully endorse a thorough scoping of the benefits to be gained from mobile technologies before a manufacturer commits to investment.
As priorities for investment are considered we are seeing customer interest in technology upgrades settle elsewhere. In relation to, for example, MES (manufacturing execution systems) this interest has manifested in investments like touch screen technology which help manufacturers capture more information off the shop floor. Adding value here seems a more pragmatic solution for many than adopting mobile technology.
In terms of systems, the demands on business responsiveness and operational speed and flexibility for enterprises competing in today’s economically challenging environment are beginning to make business intelligence (BI) solutions a necessity, rather than a luxury and so we are seeing investment here pushed up the priority list.
Previously, organisations have used BI largely as a defensive tool to combat the effects of a highly competitive, recession economy. Many have used BI for rationalising and reducing operational costs, minimising risk exposure and ensuring adherence to regulatory compliance. Smart organisations continue to invest in BI solutions to intelligently scale back operations and maximise efficiencies from business processes they already have in place.
But while the traditional business drivers for investment in BI remain valid, progressive managers are also looking to use BI more ‘offensively’ to help identify revenue opportunities.
BI and analytics is becoming a necessary and transformative part of doing business – to help provide insights that solve business problems around inefficient internal business processes, effective customer relationship management and marketing, logistics optimisation around supply and demand chains, financial and operational performance management and alignment, fraud detection and more.
Intelligent solutions require intelligent partners
Among Itelligence’s customer base we see that manufacturers are not being slow to identify a need for greater analytics to help rapid decision making. However, we are seeing some inertia in the thought process when customers realise they have to align to their ERP system – or that the data they are producing is poor in quality, effectively making ‘intelligence’ as difficult to reach as it has ever been.
Overcoming this inertia or knowledge barrier will require the input of an expert technology partner. A strong partnership will build internal competency among teams to use BI and analytics tools across the business. This will allow agility and rapid response in addressing the changing market climate – be it intense competition, the impact of globalisation and outsourcing, the shortening of product life cycles, increasingly complex supply chains, maintaining visibility of costs, ensuring regulatory compliance, innovating or improving quality.
Pragmatism and sound partner choice are the cornerstones of the most successful technology exploitation we see in manufacturing. In our experience it is always better to choose fashion over function.