Today’s manufacturers are adopting new technologies that directly align with and support their business strategies, seeking competitive advantage through packaged solutions that reduce the complexity of systems integration and software integration.
There are five clear technology trends that have emerged in manufacturing. While each trend delivers specific benefits, there’s an overarching trend that seeks to leverage the collective advantages of technology, while at the same time avoid the decades-old problem of disparate and siloed information systems. This all-embracing movement is toward packaged ERP systems such as Microsoft Dynamics ERP, which are seeing increased adoption because they are able to deliver all the benefits without the manufacturer’s needing to create and maintain complex system integration and software customisation.
Five technology trends for manufacturing
Manufacturers are becoming more decentralised. However, scaling IT resources to every new location or delivering IT support services across time zones and cultures creates a services challenge and cost burden. Using cloud solutions to offload application installation, operation and support across locations can better manage costs and improve services.
While lean manufacturing has sought to eliminate waste and non-value added expenditures from the production process since the 1990’s, only in the last several years have the market-leading manufacturing business systems fully enabled this production practice from a technology perspective. For example, manufacturing systems such as Microsoft Dynamics ERP have enhanced project accounting and cost accounting modules with deep integration to both finance and core manufacturing processes to identify waste and thereby preserve value with less work.
Supply chain optimisation
There is a continued morphing of manufacturing systems and supply chain management systems into single solutions. This trend is part of a bigger trend in which best-of-breed business applications are being replaced by integrated business suite solutions. Manufacturers are increasingly turning to the supply chain to reduce cycle times, lower inventory, accelerate customer fulfilment and decrease distribution costs.
Customer relationship management
Manufacturing companies have a reputation of using CRM systems for the bare minimum; essentially as ‘systems of record’ for prospects and customers. However, as customers are now more connected, more informed and have more options than ever before, companies must rethink their CRM strategy, processes and software. CRM software systems have evolved to include social CRM tools which leverage social listening and collaboration apps to better identify and engage social patients where they communicate. Early adopters are using these engagement techniques to acquire new customers and deepen their customer relationships.
Business intelligence (BI)
Historically, BI systems have fallen short of delivering (near) real-time information with easy-to-read analytics and actionable insights. But that’s changing. The scope of BI has advanced from simple dashboards on the front-end and sophisticated data warehouses on the back end to also include rapid and self-service BI. Manufacturers that can identify the most salient metrics, and deliver the right information to the right people at the right time, will empower those people to make better business decisions, so the company can improve its business performance.