Why digitalisation is the key to securing a successful future for UK manufacturing
Does your organisation have a digital strategy for the next five years? If not, then now is certainly the time to start planning. In a world that seems to be moving faster and becoming ever more unpredictable, having a clear plan for sustainable growth will give you a firmer foundation for resiliency.
With Brexit on the horizon, it may not be long before we enter the UK’s most challenging period in the last 75 years. Our processes will have to become leaner, the quality of our products higher and our output stronger. Finding efficiencies that haven’t previously been explored will need to become the focus of our efforts, as will improving productivity. For these things to happen, we need to be making the right investments in both R&D and technology, taking a long term view on how these can be used to get us — and keep us — one step ahead of our international competition.
Whilst technology can cover all manner of tools, from automation and artificial intelligence to M2M and even virtual reality, these tools can only be fully exploited to their greatest potential if they are fully integrated with our office systems. With that in mind, we look at some of the benefits of digitalisation for the manufacturing sector.
Put the information you need at your fingertips
Gone are the days of archive boxes, bundles of paper files, over-stuffed filing cabinets and dust-gathering documentation that needs to have its own home for the next six years. Online document management means that historical data can now be called upon and retrieved in seconds, enabling verification and decision making in an instant.
The input of data that once had to be repeated across a number of systems can now be shared seamlessly across different platforms, reducing resource and the potential for input error. Business intelligence tools can then be used to consolidate and map data from these different systems, revealing correlations that will provide actionable insights for managers and help them make better strategic decisions.
Attract better talent to your business
Nobody wants to work for a company that is stuck in the past. Today’s most talented employees want access to technology, flexible working and the ability to use the device of their choice. Businesses that rely on old technology limit their employee potential and staff soon become frustrated when systems become unreliable. At the same time, staff working on old technology may start to feel that their digital skill set is becoming antiquated, leaving them little room for personal development and limiting their prospects in the future. A continued investment in technology will not only help businesses retain the right staff, but also improve their employees’ motivation and engagement.
Secure your data
In an industry where a data leak could mean your competitors suddenly have access to your intellectual property and could copy your product, data security is paramount. Digitalising confidential and sensitive data and storing it in a secure cloud environment significantly reduces the risk of data theft or an accidental data breach. Cloud hosted solutions, such as Microsoft Azure offer a fully compliant platform that can restrict the access of certain documents or systems to specific users and only when they are working in specified locations or on approved devices.
Ensure business continuity and disaster recovery
Whilst it may not be possible to recover manufacturing machinery or tooling in the event of a disaster, holding data and systems in the cloud or having a cloud back-up will at least mean that your business information is kept out of harm’s way.
Designs, process plans, customer and supplier data and even ERP and accounting systems can now be hosted in the cloud, meaning that if your existing work site(s) become inaccessible, your staff can work from an alternative location and have access to everything they need.
Achieve greater collaboration
Our 24-hour connected world means we can collaborate with employees, suppliers and customers from anywhere using a whole range of online tools.
For global enterprises, business productivity platforms like Office 365 allow thousands of employees to work together at anytime from anywhere that has an internet connection. This optimises work opportunities and gives everyone visibility of what is happening in real time. This clarity reduces duplication, gives complete visibility of progress and encourages a more productive workforce.
Keep your software continually updated
Licencing and IT infrastructure tracking were once complex jobs for IT Managers, with installations and software upgrades being manual tasks that were extremely time consuming. Having different users on different versions of software also caused compatibility issues. With systems like Office 365, these issues have been eliminated. Licence tracking has been made simple and upgrades can now be done automatically, with little interruption to the user.
Is it time for you to review your IT infrastructure? Our 16 page guide, which includes a full review of how Microsoft’s products can be put to their full potential in the manufacturing sector can be downloaded here