The Future of Manufacturing – Faster and Smarter

Technology is driving unprecedented change for manufacturers. New IT advances can strengthen plant outputs, better position companies against competitors and keep customers more loyal than ever. Manufacturers can no longer use the same old strategies and expect the same results, and that puts many of us at a crossroads.

For manufacturers, digital transformation has to happen, and it has to happen now.


The Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics process automation are changing the face of manufacturing — but that's only part of the story. Manufacturers today are considering the following questions:

  • Why build a data-driven smart factory?
  • Are we adopting and integrating cloud services, and security/risk management solutions?
  • What about business intelligence and analytics, supply chain technologies, infrastructure consolidation and application modernization?

This subject is explored in detail in “Speeding the future Transformation Journey in Manufacturing: A Guide to Transforming Your IT Operations,” a recent IDC Manufacturing Insights paper. Synthesizing in-depth research on the topic, the report offers insight into IT trends in the manufacturing industry today — and how those trends might affect them tomorrow. The report also outlines and justifies priorities in digitally transforming manufacturing.  

Productivity is the Priority

While the manufacturing landscape is changing, there is one constant: the need to continuously increase productivity.  According to the IDC research, productivity has been one of the top three priorities for manufacturers for more than five years. IT is vital in meeting their productivity goals and improving processes to create greater efficiency, speed, visibility, and security.  And because technology really does have a role in every aspect of manufacturing, digital business transformation is the natural next step in growing productivity and ultimately strengthening the bottom line.

Determining digital needs

The report finds that worldwide manufacturers will spend an estimated $315 billion on external IT expenditures in 2016. By 2017, more than 50 percent of that money will be spent on new third-platform technologies — cloud, big data, social and analytics. But despite how important these initiatives are, IT organizations can't necessarily support these technologies without overcoming a few familiar challenges. Limited IT budgets. Too many resources devoted to ongoing maintenance rather than innovation. A shortage of employees with the right skill sets. And a lack of business agility that makes meeting deadlines a challenge when completing cumbersome IT projects.

Digital IT projects are huge, complex undertakings. The report explores how to clear hurdles by re-evaluating your approach and taking a close look at the factors creating those constraints. It also offers up some great ideas on how you can look for even more opportunities to be more efficient, agile and innovative.

Future-ready factories

The good news is many manufacturers are already making the essential investments needed to transform. Researchers predict that by the end of this year, 65 percent of manufacturers will have metrics in place to evaluate and drive change through new technology investments.

The IDC report discusses IT readiness for the future, how to strengthen an infrastructure foundation and make new modernization investments with minimal disruption as manufacturers leave legacy applications and systems behind. With that in mind, the report offers some fantastic recommendations to help to accelerate the digital transformation journey — namely modernization, value realization and digital business transformation — and considers specific initiatives including:

  • Mobile
  • Cloud
  • Collaboration and enterprise social network
  • Internet of Things
  • Big data and analytics

Learn much more about accelerating modernization by downloading this report. I’m certain that manufacturers will find the information as relevant and compelling as I did. You can also read about Dell Manufacturing Solutions and our portfolio of Services. Follow us on Twitter @DellServices.

About the Author: Prasoon Saxena