Manufacturers today are facing a broad array of challenges as they strive to develop products faster, improve efficiencies, and streamline their marketing and sales organizations. Manufacturing is a diverse field, but there are common themes among many of the businesses that represent the industry. This includes the need to reduce time and cost to market, and the desire for fueling the future lifeline of any business — innovation.

A recent survey performed by International Data Corp., an advisory organization for the information technology and consumer technology markets, shed some interesting light on the current mindset of the manufacturing industry. The organization surveyed several hundred global players in the automotive, aerospace and electronics fields and found that a majority of organizations —about 60 percent — believe that product innovation and product value-added services are the key to growth. At the same time, only about 40 percent felt that way about expansion into emerging markets.

Further, product innovation as the key to growth was ranked highest by almost 80 percent of the respondents in the automotive and high-tech electronics areas. Perhaps surprisingly, the study found that only 35 percent felt that social media and mobile platforms were a key component to manufacturing growth strategies and for improving the way they work.

As far as what was considered to be key components to innovation, access to real-time, up-to-date information and improved collaboration were cited by 60 percent, but almost 85 percent felt that faster business processes would be most helpful.

Like a lot of organizations today, poor decision-making cultures were cited as significantly hampering manufacturing industry growth. Much of the blame for the cultural barriers was attributed to inadequate processes and systems.

It is true that information is necessary for reacting quickly to the rapidly changing environments that businesses face today, for streamlining operational processes and for improving collaboration.
As we have talked before, information is also necessary for discovering the insights that catalyze true innovation and ultimately differentiate your business from its competition.

These insights can take the form of technological advancements, undiscovered market opportunities or previously unseen competitive advantages, and are only brought to light by having the right information at the right time — from both internal and external sources.

Connecting the right people through collaboration to act on the insights gained from information is the engine that will drive timely, informed decisions for delivering innovative products, and getting them to the customer most efficiently. It’s good to know that the manufacturing industry understands this and is looking wisely to the future.

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