It seems that a new technology fad is entering the market every week. No industry is immune to it, but in technology and manufacturing spheres, the novelty and excitement quickly gives way to fatigue, disappointment and cynicism when the technology that has promised so much delivers so little.
In business intelligence (BI) circles, analysts are always hunting for the the BI holy grail, that ‘x factor’ that will give them more granular insights, a competitive edge that will ensure that their manufacturing processes are as efficient and as optimised possible. Yet blink and a new advancement appears, ready to take its place and the cycle begins again.
This short lifecycle is all well and good if a trend concerns a dance craze, but when it involves significant financial investment and change management, then being able to identify a technology that can evolve and adapt with the needs of your organisation is serious business.
The question is: How do you know whether a trend will be something that will provide real ROI for your business?
Today we look at 4 BI trends that have the potential to transform your manufacturing processes. However, it’s important to remember that the technology is only as good as the business strategy behind it. When looking at these trends, it’s vital to assess:
- Will the current set-up support this technology?
- How will we implement the change?
And perhaps the most important question:
- What will be lost if we don’t adopt this technology?
1. Visual Analytics
Tableau describes visual analytics as ‘the common language.’ The move towards visual representations of data means that everyone in the business can understand what the data is saying. Having a single source of truth is significant because it means that all departments are on the same page from the start, rather than having independent numbers to argue over. Knowing what you are working with is integral for:
- Breaking down silos
- Getting a holistic view of operations
- Having solid, granular information to inform your strategy
- Uncovering relationships in the data-sets that are impossible to identify with the human eye and spreadsheets
This last point is particularly important because visual analytics allows the business to uncover these relationships and to gain insights very quickly. This brings us to the next trend:
2. The democracy of data
Given how agile the technology is becoming, stakeholders across the business can get the readings that they need, when they need them. And as industries start to really understand the potential of BI systems, they will become more demanding of what they want from the data.
According to Datanami:
‘64 percent of companies are already trying to combine five to 15 sources of data in their quest to find richer, more meaningful insights and additionally, break the silos of data repositories that have emerged in their legacy data infrastructure over time.’
Having said that, Datanami also acknowledges, that across industries, this trend is in its infancy citing a Harvard Business Review report saying that a whopping 92% of businesses surveyed still use spreadsheets for their analytics. While it seems that these businesses are mired in the status quo, the report states that continuing to work in this way is not sustainable. The businesses that adopt and adapt will come out on top and those that can’t will not be able to compete.
3. Mobile analytics
As Tableau mentions, once upon a time mobile used to merely be ‘an interface to old legacy products.’ However, now it is rapidly becoming an indispensable tool in collating and interpreting data sets. The benefits are many, it’s agile, convenient, allows for data to be read easily. Mobiles can travel, making it easy to demonstrate immediate insights to stakeholders.
4. Social media and BI
Given the amount of data that manufacturing produces and the level of insight BI systems deliver, savvy companies are realising the power of sharing that information with the public. Cisco’s Newsroomrecognises that traditionally, manufacturing companies have looked inward to solve problems. As Jeff Reinke, editorial director of Advantage Business Media's Manufacturing Group states:
‘For decades, manufacturers have focused on internal initiatives to make their companies more competitive, but with ever-more competition from India and China, some manufacturers are starting to look at social media as a way to gain global recognition for their businesses.’
For example, in food manufacturing there is data available on a staggering array of the processes. From the water level of the crops, to the temperature of the product while travelling, in the warehouse and in the factory. Wins for the company can be promoted via social media, giving them a chance to reinvent the way the public perceives their brand. If you are saving water on your crops, making that information available demonstrates your company’s commitment to the environment and the community. On a more general level, being able to share that information engenders a sense that your business is engaged, transparent and agile.
The insights that BI data provides shouldn’t just be used to improve processes for the business, but these numbers can be shared in order to create real awareness for a brand, to generate understanding of what they do and what they stand for. In fact, manufacturing companies are starting to realise that social media isn’t just for the more ‘glamorous’ or consumer businesses, it’s for those who can be creative, authentic and those who think outside the box.
We hope that the above trends have given you some food for thought about the direction that your business needs to take. If you would like to find out more about how BI systems can transform your operations then you need to download our guide to driving effective change with business intelligence today!