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Why digital investment in manufacturing is increasingly focussed on industry-centric applications

As the manufacturing world continues to evolve to meet new challenges, there’s a step-change in innovation for the products and services that are delivered and supported.

Many industry insiders are expressing the need to focus on driving sustainable (and profitable) business growth. Deloitte suggests digital investment and supply chain resilience as the key pillars. Their outlook for 2022 says, "The manufacturing industry is building back fast, undeterred by significant labour and supply chain challenges. To maintain this momentum, manufacturers should navigate elevated risks while advancing sustainability priorities."

Partnerships are also increasingly important to achieving sustainable business growth, whether that’s upstream or downstream within your supply chain or enabling partners such as application and technology providers.

In all of these scenarios, it’s important to have a common understanding of your desired outcomes, so you can ensure streamlined processes and a shortened time to value. Manufacturing is shifting towards industry-specific applications, and these applications are now nearly always delivered in the cloud to maximise adoption, flexibility, availability, and security, as well as reducing through-life cost of ownership.

Horizontal versus industry-specific applications

If you consider yourself a well-contained, low-risk, low-complexity organisation with customers who will continue to remain happy with the status quo, a horizontal, one-size fits all approach to ERP may still suffice. However, most companies need to simplify the management of their complex business and are looking to differentiate through the use of technology.

Horizontal applications can manage a particular business function, such as finance and procurement. But other applications may be bolted on. This isn't always seamless and can cause disconnected silos. Organisations are coming to realise that industry-specific capabilities and modern technology are needed. The old ways of working no longer fit their purposes. Industry-specific cloud ERP offers capabilities that match the way that you do (or should do) business.

You can manage the end-to-end ecosystem with visibility and efficiency, operating in real time to unlock your organisation's potential. It’s also faster to implement, so you’ll see success more rapidly. For example, Camatic, the global manufacturer of stadium, cinema and theatre seating and recently responsible for the fit out at the Sydney Football Stadium, as an example, quickly stood up a new manufacturing facility in Malaysia - local requirements included.

An industry-centric, single view or digital twin of your business helps you identify variations to expected operational performance early, so they can be analysed and managed long before your finance teams would typically become aware of them. The finance role can then transition to focus on strategic operational and financial improvement, fostering a continuous improvement mentality.

As Jim Collins, respected industry author, talks about when referring to the “flywheel effect,” good-to-great transformations are unlikely to occur in a single step. A clearly articulated and communicated strategy that results in measurable, incremental improvements is key to successful, long-term transformation.

Industry enabled

Unsurprisingly, when it comes to triggering organisational change, the business drivers are often a complex mix of customer expectations and demands for a better experience, a focus on operational effectiveness, and the need to meet stricter industry regulations and operating conditions. That’s why it’s important for your applications software technology vendor to speak the same language as your business.

As an example, optimising the order to delivery process in an engineer-to-order or configure-to-order environment demands a single view of the product from concept through quote to build, delivery, and then on through life support. Anything less adds risk to the whole process.

Why now?

As the old saying goes: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” Organisations that have traditionally been slow to move still have time to catch up. The challenge is often creating the internal momentum - the first push on the flywheel. In true partnerships, when everyone speaks the same language, multiple stakeholders come together to create a more powerful outcome.

Don’t wait too long. Early adopters are now more agile, flexible, and efficient - and they could already be making inroads into your share of the market. The right partner, with the right industry experience and knowledge, will understand the value you can gain by helping you solve your challenges. They can assist your organisation in defining a roadmap to success.

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