4 IT-Related Challenges Manufacturers Are Focusing on in 2014

manufacturing it challengesYou're probably all too familiar with the broad scope of challenges that have been growing in the manufacturing environment: shrinking capital and operating budgets, the aging workforce, tightening regulations, the need for new and better products faster, management of global supplier networks, and so on. As these challenges evolve and are poised to only become more complex, manufacturing leaders will have to adopt emerging strategies and technologies to get out ahead of them.

Without a doubt, your organization is probably addressing a majority of the above areas in one way or another. However, to gain a competitive advantage and position yourself for success in the future, we believe you need to be thinking about the role of next-generation manufacturing technology platforms and how they will help. We’ve put together a list of 4 main IT-related areas every leader should be gearing up to execute on in 2014 and beyond.

Below we'll explore each. Over 2014, expect to see corresponding research reports and data on these topics from us.

1. Knowledge Transfer and the Aging Manufacturing Workforce

Aging workforce: a challenge that many manufacturers are currently experiencing and planning for. It's important to develop a plan to proactively overcome the expected obstacles with the generational transition. In 2014, there will be a lot of concentration on identifying ways to address knowledge transfer, along with how to attract and develop new talent, while making the most of subject matter experts in your organization.

We expect software to play an increasingly strong role in overcoming these challenges, helping to ensure manufacturing business continuity as a large percentage of senior personnel plan for retirement and providing support in teaching the next generation of manufacturing professionals.

2. The Role of Manufacturing Technology in Operational Excellence

The burdens of costs, quality, compliance, globalization, and customer demands are forcing manufacturers to find ways to do more with less. From our discussions with industry-leading executives, as well as our research, it's clear that organizations are focused on manufacturing Operational Excellence and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

As discussed in our recent Operational Excellence webinar, advancements in next-generation manufacturing software and technology are enabling organizations to more readily identify areas for improvement, even taking a proactive approach to those improvements. These advancements will be key for not just continuing on the path to operational excellence, but also accelerating it.

3. Performance Management Maturity and Role-Based Manufacturing Metrics

The maturing manufacturing software landscape is enabling a refined focus on metrics and KPIs. With automated data management capabilities facilitating deeper analysis of performance, it will be important in 2014 to understand the real-time metrics that you should be using to proactively manage manufacturing businesses by job role.

High-level metrics are critical to measure throughout the organization, as all roles can relate to the results, however, this drill down into job role- and team/function-specific metrics will provide more tactical support for driving improvements that aggregate to significant bottom line impacts.

4. Global Manufacturing Software Implementations

Disparate and homegrown solutions have been slowly phasing out for years, but are still rampant in the manufacturing IT environment. As manufacturing becomes more connected, organizations are looking to software for managing all of this data in an effective way and opening up new lines of communication and collaboration.

In 2014, two areas surrounding global manufacturing software implementations will be top-of-mind for leaders. First, building a business case to attain budget for such an investment in the first place. And second, understanding best practices for deploying multi-site and global software implementations to ensure both immediate and long-term success.  

Getting Ahead of Manufacturing IT Challenges in 2014

The above focus areas are likely to only become more significant throughout 2014 and into the following years. Getting ahead of them by educating yourself with research, networking with peers, and benchmarking your performance will accelerate your success. It will be those executives and business leaders that take the time to do this that transform these challenges into a source of competitive advantage.

Because these issues have surfaced as some of the most pressing for manufacturing professionals, we're making them the main focus areas for LNS Research's Manufacturing Operations Global Executive Council in 2014. If you're interested in learning more about the council and how you can participate, reach out to me via email at natalie.tarutis@lnsresearch.com or you can fill out this form and I'll get back to you quickly.

Those are our thoughts on some of the most immediate manufacturing IT challenges in 2014. For more information, read LNS Research's MOM Best Practices Guide, where you'll find a breakdown of the industry's most pressing challenges, as well as emerging IT strategies.

manufacturing ops guide

All entries in this Industrial Transformation blog represent the opinions of the authors based on their industry experience and their view of the information collected using the methods described in our Research Integrity. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

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