ME manufacturers gearing up for growth with technology

November 16, 2018 8:30 am

(Words by: Terri Hiskey, Vice President of Product Marketing for Manufacturing at Epicor Software)

It’s an exciting time, with manufacturers gearing up for growth, investing in equipment, new manufacturing modalities such as 3D printing, and software to support digital transformation and new collaborative, connected factory floor competencies.

Expect cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics to be key areas of technology investment for manufacturers across the region. While these have been topics of conversation and exploration for a while, manufacturers are now moving past the design and concept stage to full-on production execution and deployment of these technologies.

Cloud – from strategy to action

Now is the time for Middle East manufacturers to put a cloud readiness plan into action. The cloud is quickly levelling the playing field, enabling even smaller manufacturers to leapfrog older, more established manufacturing players.

Aside from bringing about improvements in responsiveness, agility and costs, the cloud is helping businesses transform. As manufacturers shift away from traditional on-premises systems to cloud-based ERP they are taking advantage of new capabilities to transform their business and optimize processes. What’s more, it’s enabling the surfacing of information from even the most far-flung and darkest recesses of the organization and transforming this data into insights necessary to run and drive their business.

The IoT imperative – Start small, start today

The application of Big Data and the IoT continues to offer growth opportunities as insights gleaned from various internet-connected devices enable even more targeted customer engagement and business revenue channels as well as the ability to support operational efficiencies. The McKinsey Global Institute says that despite the immense potential factories have for value creation in the IoT era, an estimated 70% of data captured in manufacturing goes unused.

According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 55% of businesses will see ROI from the IoT in two years or less. This means manufacturers who have begun to put the IoT to work may already be starting to gain traction with these initiatives. To this end, it’s important to get moving with understanding how and where the IoT can aid your business.

READ: Exclusive Interview: If we’re smart about computers, fear not AI

Retool your business for the next-gen workforce

Much has been written about the so-called “Great Shift Change,” as Baby Boomers head toward retirement and Millennials continue to enter the workforce in droves. Today more than 1 in 3 workers are Millennials and they now comprise the largest faction of the workforce.

Regional manufacturers must re-think their relationship with these digitally-literate workers and retool their organizations to leverage technology to motivate and empower this next-generation workforce. Sitting at the intersection of workers and systems to unite information and execution, technology plays a vital role in reducing complexity, improving the quality of work life, and enhancing productivity. Business systems that are intuitive and accessible can assist Millennials wanting to have an immediate impact in the workplace.

Stepping up to “Servitization”

In the past few years, we’ve seen the emergence of new disruptive business models, and this trend is only set to continue. For example, the emergence of the “distribu-facturer” where distributors—under pressure to provide more customer value—are now adding services such as light manufacturing or kitting, and manufacturers are doing the same to extend their value by offering field service and maintenance options.

As organizations align their offerings to meet a wider array of needs and requirements throughout the customer journey, this creates opportunities to capture greater revenues and competitive differentiation. But as they branch out to serve a broader range of customer needs, and get closer to the end consumer, customer experience becomes more critical.

READ: WEF: Is technology spinning out of control?

Embracing analytics for better decision making

With globalization and disintermediation, supply chains have gotten more complex and business more competitive. Supply chain visibility and responsiveness is key to know when there are deviations to plan and move quickly to ensure customer obligations can be met. Over the years manufacturers have leaned out manufacturing processes and cut costs as much as possible. The supply chain is fast becoming “the new frontier” for opportunities to lower costs, improve responsiveness and reduce risk.  

Manufacturers must be able to make sense of business data quickly to understand the greatest business opportunities and threats that must be addressed to support growth and profitability—and be able to answer key questions about their business such as:

-How are we doing sales-wise, up/down, month-over-month and by territory?

-What are the inventory levels, how much is in stock versus demand?

-What is the status of our outstanding accounts payable (AP), accounts receivable (AR) and cash flow?

-How are we tracking regarding on time shipment performance, supplier/procurement scorecard, waste/cost on the manufacturing floor, etc.?

Seizing the day with strategic technology investments

This time of year is an important one for Middle East manufacturers; it’s time for smart strategic moves. Focused investments in the cloud, the IoT and analytics will enable manufacturers to seize opportunities today, and also be prepared to embrace change and whatever lies ahead in 2019 and beyond.

READ: Gartner: Top 10 strategic technology trends for 2019

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AMEinfo Staff
By AMEinfo Staff
AMEinfo staff members report business news and views from across the Middle East and North Africa region, and analyse global events impacting the region today.