The key to successful Digital Transformation in the manufacturing sector

The key to successful Digital Transformation in the manufacturing sector

COVID-19 has amplified the inefficiencies within manufacturing. Investing in a platform that delivers digital workflows will ensure optimum customer experience and unlock business productivity. Uwe Vieth, Sales Director for ServiceNow’s business in the Automotive and Manufacturing Industry, explains how to ensure a successful Digital Transformation.

Over the last few years, we have seen several manufacturers in the region accelerate their Digital Transformation journeys in order to drive operational efficiencies, raise employee productivity, gain a competitive edge and fuel growth. In fact, a recent study from IDC found that 48% of manufacturers across the Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META) region realised cost efficiencies, 47% achieved productivity gains and 39% managed to increased revenues from their Digital Transformation projects. But with many regional manufacturers still dependent on manual or paper-based processes, human error is still responsible for significant delays.

Manufacturers face other barriers as well; a significant divide lies between IT and production, as legacy infrastructure and complex operations push them further apart.

The effects of COVID-19 have only amplified these inefficiencies. Faced with supply chain disruptions, drops in demand and cautious consumers, manufacturers need to take a step back to assess their operations and how they interact with their end customers.

It’s never been more critical for IT and operational technology to come together and make 2021 a year of recovery and growth. But for manufacturers to compete, they need to find new opportunities to become more agile and excite their customers.

Legacy infrastructures a roadblock to innovation and customer excellence

Manufacturing operations are increasingly becoming faster and more advanced. And yet many manufacturers still depend on siloed, legacy proprietary systems built in-house, often running on different systems, scattered around different departments. Besides being inefficient, this approach is outdated and ill-equipped to meet the demands of modern manufacturing. It also makes it more difficult to scale, costing more money and time, while offering limited oversight.

What’s more, these systems are not providing the experience customers are expecting. Whether they operate in the B2B or B2C space, manufacturers’ end goal has always been to keep customers happy. But in a post-COVID climate, that goal no longer rests on good products or bad products, but good services. Customer service is now the most significant differentiator between businesses, and how a company approaches customer experience – especially problems and complaints – determines if those customers will come back.

Along with external pressures to transform, there are also internal demands to generate new revenue and widen margins. However, with some manufacturers often too invested in existing equipment and systems, they’re reluctant to explore how to improve or innovate.

One strategic platform to drive Digital Transformation

What manufacturing needs to combat these challenges is a comprehensive, business-wide Digital Transformation process which builds on and incorporates existing systems and equipment, instead of replacing them.

Manufacturers have to connect their systems and digitise workflows through one strategic platform, and they must believe in it. It’s one thing to introduce a new system, but to make it work, there has to be a new vision of manufacturing with a single platform encompassing all departments, not just IT.

The entire organisation should see the platform as an agile tool, supporting operations and keeping communications open between teams. This approach allows products to come to market faster, creating a positive impression on customers.

Consolidating to a single platform provides better ROI too. If manufacturers can use a single view and a single architecture to predict problems and prevent them, they’re automatically more agile than competitors who just react. And if a mistake is made, a holistic view of a business’s entire operation makes it easier to track what went wrong, why and to rectify it.

That rapid response saves time, money and materials, which allows organisations to invest those savings into R&D and build creative new solutions.

What’s more, with top-down oversight, manufacturers can examine data and analytics to discover hidden patterns, inefficiencies, customer trends and other important information. All departments can access data and communicate through the platform. From planning to production, the result is a seamless, faster workflow at every step.

Finally, a single platform enables manufacturers to focus on servitisation, offering end-to-end services and support alongside their products, and thereby reducing the need for additional third party products or infrastructure.

With the real-time data manufacturers capture from equipment already in customer hands, they can receive prompts for regular monitoring, reminders to deliver spare parts and much more. The end result is better customer experience, and more proactive manufacturers who can fix upcoming product failure by enabling the right service at the right time.

Reaping the benefits of Digital Transformation

Manufacturers have had a challenging year, to say the least. But by reassessing their systems and infrastructure, there’s ample opportunity to recoup any losses from the past year and, beyond that, create new revenue streams.

A streamlined, single solution connects people, functions and systems seamlessly in one place. For manufacturers, that ensures greater visibility and better efficiency, while adding greater value to individual services. With one single view of all their previously disparate data sets, a single product architecture offers a clear picture of the situation on the ground, enabling manufacturers to remain agile and address problems before they even happen.

Investing in a platform that delivers digital workflows will ensure optimum customer experience and unlock business productivity.

That has significant implications for manufacturing, but it stands to transform the whole world of work, too.

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