On top of that, the industry has shown great interest in advanced innovations for the future of manufacturing, such as automation, artificial intelligence and more customer-oriented approaches.
In this article, we’ll discuss what Lisa Hellqvist, Managing Director at Copperberg, and Herbert Pesch, Managing Director for B2B Commerce at Valtech, spoke about in a keynote discussion about the future of manufacturing and digital transformation.
The Copperberg-Valtech Collaborative Report: A Short Background
With Valtech, a global digital giant, focused on business transformation, Copperberg has made an annual report about what industry leaders have to say about their transformation journey. The study participants include digital leaders from B2B manufacturers with international operations, including some of the most successful companies in the industry.
The respondents shared their goals, strategies, and challenges regarding digital transformation in manufacturing.
What Top Manufacturers Have in Mind
According to the report, 64% have a strong digital ambition in the next five years, but only 50% increased digital investments this year, and 16% believed they were more mature than competitors. This ambition drives a desire to improve customer experience, reduce costs, and increase efficiency.
On the topic of how the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the adoption of e-commerce solutions Pesch said, “I think, in general, many people are a bit uncertain… they’re now much more focused on driving business value on the short term.”
Although the percentages were in the middle of the maturity curve, the report said the trend went up from 2022.
The survey asked participants to state the digital status of their organisation in a hashtag. One stood out: #fixthebasics. Hellqvist elaborates, saying it may result from manufacturers saying, “we have to start somewhere…the minimum viable product is good enough. And we take it from there.”
This shows that the manufacturing industry is leaning towards customer-oriented e-commerce, product development, and innovation – all the reasons companies resort to third-party digital marketing for manufacturers.
The Challenges Upfront: Business Strategies
When the respondents were asked about what they perceive as primary external threats to organisational success, the top answers were:
- Rising costs of operations (60%)
- Supply chain disruptions (43%)
- Lack of workforce (38%)
- Complex market structures (25%)
According to the report, the most prominent external threat is inflation and increased raw material prices.
Respondents’ main strategy to stay resilient in the face of threats was upselling value-added services. Maintenance and add-ons to their existing customer pools and optimising current processes and resources followed.
The third highlighted response was about servitization, giving importance to securing customer loyalty and satisfaction through better experience and product delivery.
What the Industry Needs: A Word from Herbert Pesch
As the keynote transitioned to visions, Pesch revealed that most respondents say they do have a corporate vision for digital transformation and e-commerce solutions.
However, the problem lies with implementing digital transformation throughout the company, which has multiple divisions, business units, brands and regions most likely operating independently. As Pesch said, “getting your organisation ready… for the next step” is essential to make the most out of IT investments.
That’s where change management comes in. Digital transformation for manufacturers should consist of a well-structured, practical approach to efficiency and innovation. This often means connecting the silo’s within the organization, bringing together different departments and integrating their IT systems. Companies can use change management by setting up a roadmap and aligning the business’s vision with its digital goals.
The key takeaway is that manufacturers need to focus on customer-centricity, optimisation of current processes, value-added services, and servitization to stay resilient during uncertain times.
This can be achieved through effective change management strategies that involve implementing digital transformation throughout the entire organisation.
Digital Trends for Manufacturers
As the keynote interview came to a close, Hellqvist and Pesch further discussed the top trends in digital marketing for manufacturers. According to both, the report says that to take advantage of the future of manufacturing, companies focus on the following:
Enabling Growth and New Revenue Streams
Companies should focus on creating new revenue streams through digital commerce for manufacturers, such as addressing new markets, upselling value-added services, optimising current processes and resources to reduce costs, and servitization to secure customer loyalty and satisfaction.
With customer data analysis becoming more sophisticated, manufacturers can track customer behaviour, preferences and purchasing patterns in real-time. This data can be used to personalise customer services, create targeted campaigns and offers, and develop new products or services tailored to their needs. There is a lot of potential in this area, but steps still need to be taken in the industry.
Building Resilience and Lower Costs
Companies built on resilience and lower costs can better survive external threats like inflation and supply chain disruptions.
Staying agile and leveraging the power of data-driven automation is also vital to success. Automated solutions and data integration throughout the value-chain make it easier for manufacturers to plan production, set up efficient processes, and ensure quality control at scale.
Adapting Change Management Strategies
Aligning the company-wide vision with all the business’s digital goals requires an effective change management strategy. This includes creating a roadmap and assembling teams to manage the digital transformation process across all divisions, business units, and regions.
Manufacturers should focus on understanding customers’ needs and building a customer-centric approach to their digital initiatives. This could involve developing or enhancing e-commerce solutions and leveraging data-driven analytics to improve the overall user experience.
It could also involve creating customised digital solutions around products that can help customers save time and money and avoid downtime. Manufacturers should focus on providing a seamless customer experience, with easy access to relevant information and product catalogues. Many manufacturers are moving towards the creation of Customer Portals, a potential game changer in the industry. A Customer Portal brings together all digital initiatives in one unified customer experience. It gives the customer the level of self service that they are expecting nowadays to make their lives easier. It adds a lot of value to the customers (documentation, transactions, order history, machine performance, training, predictive maintenance, etc) and it gives the manufacturer a lot of insights into the customer’s behaviour.
By implementing these strategies and approaches, manufacturers can better understand their clients and the market, enabling them to generate business value and stay resilient in uncertain times.
Hellqvist and Pesch also invited the attendants to again participate in the coming survey November 2023. This, according to her, is to share with the world what could happen next.
To get a copy of “The Voice of Digital Leaders in Manufacturing 2023”, download it here. In addition, visit our website to see other reports and the latest news on digital developments in manufacturing.