Is the manufacturing industry ready for the fourth industrial revolution?

In our latest survey, we asked large and mid-sized manufacturers worldwide, if they are ready for the fourth industrial revolution – and got surprising answers.

Industry 4.0 is commonly referred to as the fourth industrial revolution which is powered by new technologies that enable automation and data exchange. It includes cyber-physical systems, IOT, cloud computing, and cognitive computing.

The manufacturing industry has talked about Industry 4.0 for many years, but have companies started to realize the potential of the new technologies?

Tacton conducted a survey of 100 primarily large and mid-sized manufacturers worldwide, to get a better sense of how Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing trends are both impacting their businesses today and shaping their future plans.

How far have manufacturers come in their journey?

How far along are manufacturers in achieving Industry 4.0 or Smart Manufacturing priorities?

Results are decidedly mixed. When asked how well Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing were understood in the organization, a plurality (41%) responded they are aware, but not aware enough.
Only 21% felt they had a very good understanding and had a Smart Manufacturing strategy in place.

Given the overall awareness of Industry 4.0/Smart Manufacturing trends, most manufacturers still feel they are coming up short in terms of creating and implementing a strategy. Only 13% of companies answered that were well advanced with the digitalization of core processes.

Manufacturers that are unable to catch up to the first movers will likely face strong competitive challenges that may impact business revenue and even long-term business viability.

Implementing Industry 4.0 – the challenges

Given this lagging progress, it was interesting to learn what the typical challenges with implementing Industry 4.0 are.
The most striking response to this question was that almost half of respondents cited “lack of knowledge” as the greatest challenge presented in implementing Industry 4.0 within their
When combined with the 40% concerned with “lack of technical skills”, it becomes immediately apparent that the industry must move fast to catch up with the technical advances of recent years.
33% were worried about the “lack of leadership skills” – when these three responses are viewed together, it seems evident that companies have to radically reevaluate their approach if they are remaining relevant and competitive in this new era.

Customer experience – powered by Industry 4.0

Given the prominent role of Business Intelligence (BI) and big data analytics in Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing, the survey queried how this data was being used in the manufacturing enterprise. Not surprisingly, close to half of respondents stated that “understanding the market” was the primary use of BI and Big Data.

More interesting was the fact that 32% of respondents listed “understanding the customer buying process” as a primary use of data. As the customer experience moves front and center in manufacturing, some businesses are using data and BI to better connect the sales process to production processes.

When queried on which technologies are most critical for future success, IoT and Big Data analytics won the competition, revealing a very customer-centric focus that reflects the importance of the customer experience.

Production technologies such as machine-to-machine (M2M) communication and advanced robotics dominated the next tier of responses. One takeaway here is that manufacturers have grown familiar with the latest production technology but are now realizing the equal importance of the buying experience in order to maximize revenue potential.

To download the full report and learn how manufacturers see the role of CPQ technology in their digital transformation, download the full report.

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