The COVID outbreak forced many businesses to rethink how they operate, manufacturing included. Two years of shutdowns and remote work have forced digitization to become operational priority number one for manufacturers. Many had digitization initiatives in place and in progress, others started from scratch.
This guide will discuss the main issues facing manufacturing CIOs today around digitization, IT strategy, and managing ongoing supply chain issues. The next 3 years will bring Manufacturing into the future of integrated data operations, cloud-based digitization, predictive service contracts, and dependable supply chain management. Is your IT strategy ready for that new reality?
Interim Plan in 2022 focused on a long-term plan
As a CIO with so many impeding initiatives, it is important to focus on initiatives that help you prepare your organization for managing current crises and growth. This can be achieved with a simple 2 initiative strategy for this year which can lead to a longer-term plan.
- Enabling your organization towards digitization. (Growth)
- Leverage technology to manage the current supply chain crisis (Tackle)
Enabling your organizations towards digitization (Growth)
To enable the organization to grow, here are the top 3 questions which you should ask yourself which help you plan the right initiatives.
- What does digitization mean to our organization?
- As a technology enabler, what are the top 3 initiatives you can focus on which will help your organization move towards digital growth?
- What can we stop doing or investing time and resources which are big impediments for the organization to move towards digitization?
What does digitization mean to our organization?
This has become a buzz word and there has been a battling cry for digital transformation across industries at the moment. As a CIO, it is easy to be led away with cool technologies, web3.0, and others that are far-reaching at the moment. So here are some guidelines for you to think about.
- Are there any products or services in your current stack which can be delivered or enabled through technology providing new revenue streams or better margins for your organization? E.g Predictive maintenance, enabling your field service technicians with mobile apps and VR headsets, etc.
- How can leverage the existing data captured through our current applications like ERP systems, CRM systems, PLM, and others which can provide more insights to our business teams and will lead to innovative services for your customers? E.g can be cloud data warehouses, leveraging predictive analytics products or external services, IOT from your machines
- How can you leverage digitization to handle the current supply chain crisis which can help you achieve both growth and tackle initiatives? E.g these can be order transparency for your customers by connecting CRM, ERP, and marketing automation systems where customers are automatically notified of the status of orders, delays, and progress made on the order journey.
Top 3 initiatives to focus on to enable your organization towards digitization in 2022
As a CXO, with a lot of impending priorities and focus initiatives, it is time to reset your roadmap and IT strategy to align your initiatives towards digitization. To help you do this, here is what other manufacturers are performing in their organizations.
- Envision a new future and assess for readiness, current state, and gaps
- Build a data strategy that will involve governance, enabling future data streams, and experimenting with different predictive analytics initiatives.
- Reassess your talent plan and identify new skills for digital initiatives and plan for upskilling or hiring new resources or working with experts on contractual ways.
The above 3 initiatives can be done independently as projects where you can engage with a consulting partner to perform your readiness strategy, identify a key data resource to run your data strategy, and work with your HR team to identify talent gaps and prepare for new skills.
Big impediments preventing your digital initiatives
As your IT team grows, there are always systems that outgrow your needs, and require a lot of maintenance and resource time spent on running the engine efforts. E.g these could be legacy ERP systems, accounting applications, forecasting applications, and others. Instead of just doing the same work every year on these legacy applications for maintenance, here are some better questions to ask your IT team that would uncover a lot of insights.
- For the next 5 years, how much percentage of work per year will be spent on running the engine like supporting upgrades, infrastructure work, emergency fixes, etc on legacy systems?
- Are there talent risks we anticipate in supporting these systems in the next 5 years that we need to be aware of?
- Are the vendors providing better cloud versions for these applications which can reduce our maintenance costs and help us meet business needs with apps and extensions?
As an example, most manufacturers are working toward SAP HANA upgrades. This is where technologies like Enosix can help with real-time integration with all Salesforce CRM Cloud solutions and help your sales and service team get to a customer 360 view. Enosix has a prepackaged data integration platform for SAP ERP systems that can integrate with ECC today with data integration rules that easily transfer to S/4 HANA in preparation for migration. Business doesn’t have to stop because of the migration.
If the answer to the above 3 questions is a no, it is time to retire these applications and move towards better cloud-based applications which can reduce your maintenance time and be agile with your user needs.
Leverage technology to manage the current supply chain crisis
With the current supply chain crisis looming over manufacturing, customers are demanding for answers on the status of the orders for their contracts, pricing changes, and looking for solutions. As a CIO instead of just enabling more cases on orders and getting more questions from customers, here are some ways other manufacturers are leveraging technology to solve the crisis.
- Due to lack of data integration, Manufacturers who are using SAP for their orders have departments like Sales and Customer Service receiving an uncontrollable amount of customer phone calls and emails due to a lack of automation with CRM systems like Salesforce that can be integrated for CPQ. Instead of sporadic messages, we need to rethink the order fulfillment process as a journey and leverage smarter forms of data integration and automation to improve the customer experience on the status of orders, quoting in a timely matter, and updated information on shipping and delivery through more robust self-service portals displaying accurate information. Solutions like enosix will help a long way to put real-time order and delivery data in the hands of your sales teams or customer portals through their favorite front-end systems connected to SAP in order to provide customers the agility and speed they require to meet daily demands.
- Some Manufacturers are leveraging web3.0 technologies like blockchains to track supply chain orders from the suppliers. By using blockchain solutions, suppliers can update the real-time status of their manufacturing supplies which provides greater visibility on supply chain statuses. The best example of it was Walmart which leverages blockchain solutions to track food supply from their suppliers.
To summarize, here are the top 3 things which you can take away from this blog.
- Focus on an initiative towards digitization preparing the organization for growth.
- Leverage technology to provide order transparency to your customers to manage the supply chain solution.
- Rethink your legacy application support and prepare for migration to the cloud.
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