Better Data Leads to Better Insight

Disruptive technologies continue to transform the manufacturing landscape at an unprecedented rate. Exciting breakthrough processes, like 3D printing or M2M or industrial Internets, bring new capabilities to the shop floor. Modern ERP technologies, such as integrated collaboration tools and smart tablets, increase responsiveness and the ability to meet customer expectations. Yet, market demand for speed of delivery, product-specialization, and value-add services continue to push manufacturers to do more with less.

Keeping pace with continuously evolving customer demands, global market conditions, and product innovations requires perseverance. Insight is critical, especially as recent changing market dynamics have put many manufacturers and margins at risk. This increased competition and slim margins places additional stress on manufacturers, dealers, rental companies, and service businesses to improve service performance -- which is paramount to maintaining margins and growing profitability.

In order to compete effectively, strategic organizations are adopting more specialized processes and tools to automate and integrate multiple aspects of the business and glean better data from multiple touch points. This approach provides organizations with a comprehensive view of their business, so they can improve the value to their customers and staff, improve the bottom line, and increase overall profitability.

Data provides the necessary insight

Market complexity is continuing to increase. In order to better manage processes and deliver operational improvements, organizations must simplify the impact of this complexity and make better, more informed decisions, and make them faster. To achieve operational excellence, organizations need to exploit all information sources to reach the highest possible level of visibility and intelligence along the value chain.

Above all, organizations need access to current data. By analyzing real-time data throughout the organization, executives can confidently identify areas of underperformance, production, or supply-chain bottlenecks and low-selling product lines. With this approach, manufacturers will have direct insight to find out about changes in customer orders, delays in raw material delivery, and revisions to scheduling. Accurate data means organizations can react immediately to situations as they arise or make proactive changes where possible.

Technology provides the blueprint

Modern ERP solutions provide a new depth of functionality and ease of use that dramatically changes how data is captured, stored, accessed, and analyzed. Manufacturing is more efficient than ever and IT infrastructure is a key reason for that shifting dynamic. The latest technologies provide the superhighway to the future of manufacturing.

Without up-to-the minute market intelligence and real-time access to critical production, performance, and profitability details, a manufacturing executive is at the mercy of pure instinct and guesswork. Doubt delays decisions and inhibits bold actions, interfering with the agility needed to maintain a competitive edge today.

Manufacturing operations that leverage technology to its fullest are nimble, in-sync with fast-changing customer needs, and fully engages a workforce. As a result, well-made, innovative products are manufactured and delivered in full and on time to global customers at a profit.

As the future of manufacturing unfolds, the new landscape looks quite promising. The journey may hold some twists and turns as manufacturing operations and supply chains transition to the new speed-driven, technology-enabled mindset. But, with the proper IT infrastructure, the route will be more reliable, more direct, and less hindered with doubts and delays.

— Mark Humphlett is the director of industry marketing for Infor's manufacturing industry strategy.

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