Data-Driven Operations Are Key to Manufacturing’s Future

New Report from World Economic Forum, in Collaboration with Boston Consulting Group, Reveals Many Manufacturers Struggle to Implement Data-Driven Operations and Defines a Path Forward to Overcome Challenges

GENEVA—In the near future, manufacturing companies will work together in hyper-connected value networks in which data-and-analytics applications drive productivity, new customer experiences, and societal and environmental impact. The World Economic Forum and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) are collaborating to understand challenges and support companies as they unlock the full value of data. Their findings appear in a new white paper, “Data Excellence: Transforming Manufacturing and Supply Systems,” released today.

According to the paper, nearly three-quarters of 1,300 surveyed manufacturing executives consider advanced analytics to be critical for success and more important today than three years ago. However, only a few companies capture the full value that data and analytics can unlock to help address manufacturers’ most pressing challenges. Less than 20% of surveyed participants prioritize advanced analytics to promote either short-term cost reductions or longer-term structural cost improvements. Only 39% have managed to scale data-driven use cases beyond the production process of a single product and thus achieve a clearly positive business case.

“Manufacturing is on the verge of a data‑driven revolution,” says Daniel Küpper, BCG managing director and partner and a report coauthor. “But many companies have become disillusioned because they lack the technological backbone required to effectively scale data-and-analytics applications. Establishing these prerequisites will be critical to success in the post-pandemic world.”

Surveyed manufacturers cited various challenges that impeded their efforts to further scale and implement data and analytics solutions within their plants and across networks:

  • They struggle to prioritize the right value-adding use cases from a broad range of applications
  • They have not put in place technological enablers, such as data security or advanced algorithms
  • They lack critical organizational enablers, such as skills and capabilities and effective internal governance

The report, featuring insights from over 40 manufacturing organizations and leading academics and public sector representatives, identifies six priorities to capture value from data and analytics in manufacturing:

  • Define a data-to-value strategy and roadmap
  • Incentivize internal and external ecosystem partners
  • Build capabilities to capture and use data
  • Implement an open platform to unlock data silos
  • Enable connectivity for low-latency, high-bandwidth data flows
  • Ensure data security and privacy

“These findings will help accelerate our journey to support companies in devising a path forward to reach the next level of data-based manufacturing excellence, build trust among manufacturing, suppliers, and customers, and unlock new value through the development of new data-driven ecosystems,” says Francisco Betti, Head of Shaping the Future of Advanced Manufacturing and Production at the World Economic Forum.

As a next step, the community is co-developing a Manufacturing Data Excellence Framework comprising value-adding applications as well as technological and organizational success factors. Companies will be able to leverage this framework to help accelerate the development of globally connected manufacturing data ecosystems.

A copy of the report can be downloaded here.

To arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or gregoire.eric@bcg.com.

About the World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum, committed to improving the state of the world, is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas. (www.weforum.org).

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