The manufacturing industry has increasing pressure to compete in this volatile market and economic environment. We are operating in an era in which many of the accepted political norms have been turned on their heads and the pace with which technology is progressing means most of us are still catching up with what we can do today, let alone thinking about the possibilities that tomorrow may bring.
In our new industry report, we discuss aligning business change with technology investment in UK manufacturing and the importance of organisations innovating and accepting constant change to stay ahead.
Most large manufacturers will operate with a core central system for production, supply chain and finance management, and general business procession. Typically, in medium-large business manufacturing, it will be an ERP package (such as SAP, Oracle or Microsoft Dynamics). Despite their crucial role in helping organisations function day to day, these highly integrated business suites don’t always lend themselves to quickly supporting a change of strategy or fresh business direction. Many CIOs have reported their business applications are holding back their ability to respond to market changes.
How do I remain competitive?
It is vital to build in agility around the core system function, there are various ways of approaching that. In an era of digital transformation and fast-changing consumer trends, it is clearly prudent to have in-built flexibility in processes and systems to support business-led technology change. Do you have the business application capabilities to adapt to change?
“There is a still an important place for the likes of SAP, but it’s within the core of the business where change is slow and steady, and where leaders are going to want to drive efficiency through better supply planning, better network optimisation, better demand management and processing – and doing so in a way that minimises working capital. Every business is always going to want to do that.” (Stefan Barden, former CEO of Northern Foods and UK CEO of Heinz and Brakes)
Often, when the core systems are holding a company back, departments employ new technology, which isn’t fully integrated, creating a disparate technology estate and leading to a lot of technical debt.
To increase agility within large ERP packages, it is important for organisations to take advantage of business applications as an additional function.
“With apps you can do many things that ten years ago you needed deep technical competence to do – now, it’s very easy for small companies to do big things. A 50-strong company can have the same level of sophistication as organisations of 1,000-10,000 people. I think technology is enabling smaller and smaller companies to challenge big companies.” (Rob Pritchard, former CIO at Britvic)
Align business and digital technology strategy
CEOs planning their strategies need to be aware that technology is a leveller in today’s business landscape. A successful CIO today will need to have “different personas” to reflect the different parts of their business, this will support agility and ensure technology becomes an enabler in the parts of the organisation where it is needed.
The here and now
These investments can often feel like a mammoth task, but this shouldn’t be the case. Separate this into the bigger, long term strategy and the smaller agile activity and programs to kick-start straight away.
“Be prepared to make investment that you’ll turn off and throw away. Think in much shorter time periods, think in terms of days and weeks, not years, for projects. Think in small, low cost, agile [Cloud] platforms.” (Rob Pritchard, former CIO at Britvic)
Get yourself match fit
Today’s manufacturers have a chance to advance their output and take advantage of the wave of innovation in the tech space to establish a strong base that can support a new era for the industry, but only if they integrate it efficiently into their business systems.
Here at Searchlight we assess areas to reduce spend and increase outputs, and improve value to the customer, shareholders and employees. We show you how to release resource to innovate and refocus on value-add tasks to become an intelligent enterprise through strategy alignment, innovation and digital strategy and portfolio management. Contact us today for independent advice to help you grow, develop new capabilities and future-proof your organisation.
Our full report, The New Era: Making the most of technology, is available to download for free.
Searchlight Consulting has helped clients, including leading organisations FatFace, Costa Coffee and Wiggle- CRC to achieve seamless integration. Find out more with our case studies.