The manufacturing industry has historically been at the head of the pack when it comes to innovation and the application of advanced technology. However, an onslaught of challenges accelerated by the pandemic is forcing manufacturers to both consolidate their position as technology leaders and make advances in new areas.
For example, while operational efficiency has long been a goal, the go-to cost-savings measure of offshoring production and supplies has been impaired by geopolitical tensions, competitive labor markets and a need to rebalance facility location. Efficiency with resiliency is the new goal.
As a result, manufacturers are seeking new ways to build resilience and efficiency into their operations. Beyond tech investment, this means creating comprehensive data strategies that leverage the information flowing from increasingly connected environments, and building rich customer experiences, in addition to other priorities that focus on efficiency enhancement.
Further, while manufacturers have traditionally focused on business-to-business relationships, many now find themselves in the consumer spotlight. B2B models are morphing into “B2B2C” (business-to-business-to-consumer) models as organizations search for differentiation and new revenue streams, such as through the digitization of products and services.
Meanwhile, modern consumers are taking a keen interest in how and where their products are made. Emissions, environmental impact and social responsibility now form part of the consumer decision-making process, which pushes manufacturers closer to those who buy and use their products.
As Economist Impact research supported by Cognizant demonstrates, all these factors combined mean that an industry previously obsessed with driving down costs is going through something of a brand refresh. The image of a grubby factory floor has been banished to the history books. From the automotive industry to packaging suppliers, manufacturers are now striving to be high-tech and sustainable businesses. Only by backing up this progressive image with tangible action will manufacturers be ready for the future.
Heavy tech investment needs to be paired with a strong data strategy
Respondents were asked to identify the areas in which their company is leveraging data. (Percent of respondents using data in each area)