Similar to their peers in other industries, manufacturing organizations are moving away from “the way things have always been done” and toward “working like the digitally transformed businesses of tomorrow.” The drivers for this transition are plentiful and include increasing pressure to 1) more efficiently keep up with geographically diverse supply chains and evolving regulations, 2) eradicate paper-based and highly manual processes, and 3) break down information siloes.
Many organizations are already taking deliberate steps to digitally transform: A global Forbes Insights survey found that 46% of manufacturers* have already adopted automation software for “some processes.” But for many manufacturers, the goal of enterprise-wide digital transformation seems elusive. Common barriers to adopting automation software that were reported include a lack of skill set (27%), unconvinced of ROI (33%), belief that it’s cost-prohibitive (42%), assertion that current processes are broken (22%) and lack of buy-in from senior leadership (27%).
Powerful Operations, Empowered Workers
A critical tenant of the Intelligent Automation value proposition is to forge a path between people and the information they need to manage day-to-day operations. Automation should make data work for the business, and for manufacturers, it can encompass functions across the organization including:
- Supply and demand planning
- Order processing
- Pricing and procurement
- Inventory tracking and processing
- Contract monitoring
- Invoice, quote and contract management
- Customer support and communication
- Regulatory compliance
- And more
The employee-customer connection is also significant. Automation empowers workers, freeing them from tedious manual tasks so they can focus on higher-value, customer-focused work. In fact, a significant number of manufacturers surveyed said employee satisfaction improved due to automation: 31% reported improvement of 5-15%; 26% reported improvement of 15-25%; and 25% reported improvement of 25% or more.
Many reported similar improvements with respect to customer satisfaction: 30% reported improvement of 5-15%; 35% reported improvement of 15-25%; and 17% reported improvement of 25% or more.
And what about the essential “reduce cost + increase revenue” formula?
When asked about cost reduction improvements due to automation, 42% of manufacturers reported improvements in the range of 5-15%; 32% reported improvements of 15-25%; and 11% reported improvements of 25% or more. When asked about revenue generation, 37% reported improvements of 5-15%; 31% reported improvements of 15-25% and 15% reported improvements of 25% or more.
The takeaway? Digitally transforming business areas and operations drives smarter business for manufacturing organizations.
Moving beyond a “single technology” approach with Intelligent Automation
Robotic process automation (RPA) is a common starting point for many manufacturers looking to digitally transform. RPA uses software robots to automate repetitive tasks and manual processes and augment the work of employees. And although companies that are implementing only RPA to automate processes are realizing significant benefits, many (60% of manufactures surveyed) are beginning to look beyond RPA, especially as they seek to scale the benefits of automation across the enterprise.
This is where Intelligent Automation comes into play. A scalable automation solution bundles complementary, low-code and interoperable automation technologies such that organizations can digitize end-to-end operations efficiently and economically. By adopting such a platform approach, organizations are better positioned to realize and scale the benefits of automation across the enterprise as compared to using a series of unintegrated point’ solutions. They are able to apply the “best fit” set of technologies based on discrete needs along a workflow, and with a platform, also avoid incurring overhead associated with integrating a string of separate products that do not natively talk to each other.
Flexibility is a key component of a true Intelligent Automation platform, allowing organizations to start, scale or expand their intelligent digital workforce on their terms and timelines. Customers can converge the digital (automation) and physical workforces into a collaboratively run machine. The result? A digital workforce consisting of humans and automation collaborating to transform performance of business operations and enhance the employee and customer experience.
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*All survey results are taken from the 2018 Forbes Insights Report unless otherwise noted.