Manufacturing: An evolving industry demanding digital transformation

General Overview

Since the Fourth Industrial Revolution, digitization, big data, and cloud technology has been accelerating change in the manufacturing industry. More so, requiring manufacturers to become much more agile and flexible to compete in a global marketplace. To remain competitive manufacturers are searching for ways to shorten product development times and focus on products that generate better margins. Another aspect to differentiate them from competition is offering value-added services such as installations, maintenance, software integration, sensors etc. Even so, having the expertise, in-depth product knowledge, and ability to optimize machinery is not enough, whether for new entrants or existing manufacturers. Technology advancement improved processes and optimized logistics, supply chains, and production planning. Nonetheless, it’s no longer a strategy that relies on distributors or dealerships to move a product or close a sale; it’s about providing a custom solution that better understands customers and leveraging technology to offer end-to-end solutions.

Dealing with Disruption

With the introduction of technology and global digital platforms, manufacturers and businesses can improve the quality, speed, and price of delivered products. However, disruption rises from companies that are innovative and agile, leaving no room for competition.

Disruption doesn’t only reside on the supply side, but also on the demand side. With increased transparency, engagement, and new behavioral patterns, consumers are pressing companies to transform the way they design, market, and deliver products. Increasingly, B2B companies are expecting the same treatment and flexibility as a B2C transaction.

As a demographic shift towards more millennials taking the reigns as both customers and employees, manufacturers are expecting drastic changes in the way they operate and deliver. This younger generation expects readily available and immediate access to information, with round-the-clock service.

To deal with external changes, manufacturers need to adapt using innovative legacy systems and retain company-specific knowledge within those digital systems to be easily transferred among employees. As younger generations come on board, companies that fail to integrate digital processes are facing high turnovers and poor employee experience. The need for better internal tools to modernize the way of working not only impacts employee retention, but also the way they meet with rising customer expectations.

Even though some companies are adopting a forward-thinking and modern approach, they are seeing a shortage of talent within the industry with skills revolving around data interpretation and analytics.

Technology Advancement

With increased access to on-demand computing services, high-speed connectivity, and the ability to collect and analyze big data, manufacturers saw an opportunity to engage digitally and transform themselves through technology. 

Those who embraced technology advancement and digital processes were affected in four principal areas: customer expectations, product enhancement, collaborative innovation, and organizational forms. With consumers’ ever-demanding changes and expectations, manufacturers were forced to improve how customers are served. By enhancing their digital capabilities, they were able to make their products and services more valuable and more durable. Additionally, with the rise of delivering enhanced customer experiences, rapid innovation and collaborations within the organization were crucial to speed up processes and combine technologies. 

Digital Transformation within the Manufacturing Industry 

There were two approaches taken by the manufacturing industry to transform digitally which improved their internal operations and made processes faster and more efficient.  

  • Bottom-up: focused on applying emerging technologies such as AI, robotics, Internet of Things to automate existing processes.  

  • Top-down: focused on cohesive organizational change by digitizing and automizing labor, processes, and plant structures.  

To do so, manufacturers invested in supply chain systems, ERPs, and supplier management software to produce and scale the best products in the fastest time at the lowest cost. However, that wasn’t enough. In some way, a new channel of “customers” started to appear, driving manufacturers to rethink their engagement and interactions within the supply chain, where it did not depend solely on distributors.  

Optimization is crucial, especially when upgrading into a flexible setup to provide sustainable production and create new business opportunities with customization. Unique data-driven platforms with AI integration and data learning solutions drive digitization in a smart way to provide better value.  

Reimagining the Customer   

As processes change and both B2B and B2C customers expect the same experience as a sales representative or distributor, it is critical for manufacturers to better understand their customers and adapt fast enough.  

At the forefront, is having an upgraded, customized, and personalized eCommerce solution that resonates with customers, stakeholders, and employees. It’s all about creating a seamless customer experience that provides the most information at every touchpoint.  

More and more companies notice a shift from being product-centric, to becoming customer-centric with intuitive technology and agile platforms that provide a cohesive and consistent experience throughout. Having siloed systems can hinder the way data is processed, especially when manufacturers need to focus on having a connected ecosystem. By having the entire company, with its sales reps, and distributors connected within a single integrated solution, manufacturers can better understand and analyze data, to deliver a more optimized and personalized experience. Together with a 360-degree view of your customers. A fully integrated solution helps you get to market faster, all while improving experiences at any touchpoint. Consequently, driving efficiency and innovation quickly, and witnessing an increase in ROI. 

Moving Forward 

Digital transformation is all about redefining business processes to meet constantly evolving market requirements and elevating the customer experience. The core values and business model  don’t change, but it’s more about how things get done.  It should begin and end with the customer in mind  and  add value at every interaction. As customer needs and expectations evolve, foundational  technology must  be  flexible, efficient, and agile.  

XCentium provides services and capabilities around best-in-industry technology to suit your business needs and deliver unique experiences. No matter your business model - B2C, B2B, or B2B2C, we make sure our clients don’t miss opportunities or hold back their growth by leveraging agile, scalable, and enterprise-level digital platforms.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out for a no-cost, no-commitment consultation, and a member of our team will contact you shortly.