The heat is on this summer as manufacturers strive to deliver strong growth and meet new market needs, with an unrelenting focus on becoming more efficient.
But they are constantly buffeted by the hot winds of a volatile marketplace with increasing material costs, pressure from customers to continuously reduce prices, and a shortage of key talent in a tight labor market - as well as having to manage new regional regulations.
I see three smoking hot trends in the marketplace that manufacturers are having to address:
- Something Shiny. Customers these days are demanding, always looking for something new and shiny - so manufacturers are laser-focused on creating new products, often in new markets. New products are being coupled with IoT sensors providing new ways to interact with customers and innovative ways to compete. Along with new products, manufacturers are also focused on M&A with strategic acquisitions and divestitures featuring in many a boardroom discussion.
- Get me Tokyo on the Line. Getting a foothold into new markets is a key focus and manufacturers have to adapt to their needs with the speed and agility of a smaller competitor. And while it’s essential to bring new products to market faster, manufacturers also recognize that entering new markets needs better-aligned business improvement projects and shortening the production and order-management cycle times.
- Cheaper by the Dozen. Channeling efficiency experts Frank Bunker Gilbreth (Senior and Junior), manufacturers have an unrelenting focus on increasing efficiency across the entire value chain and the ecosystem. Manufacturers are reexamining IT spending and finding exactly where value comes from, not on a project-by-project basis but rather on a continuous basis. Manufacturers are also seeking more efficiency from their supply chains while simultaneously asking them to become more flexible and more responsive.
All three trends are supported by data from IoT sensors, production equipment and transportation assets which they are now routinely and continuously analyzing using new technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics. The goal is to shorten response times and better control costs.
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