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FEATURE INDUSTRY 4.0/IIOT BRING BUSINESS AND IT TOGETHER IN HARMONY


Nick Goode, EVP Product, Sage, says investing in emerging technologies can solve many of the pressures facing manufacturers. He highlights Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) as the answer to the industry’s most pressing priorities...


I


n the modern world we expect exotic products to be easily accessible on our


local supermarket shelves. Whether it’s the latest superfood from South America, or a certain regional dish that’s imported in from mainland Europe, we as consumers become used to demanding that our fridges are well- stocked with a plethora of tantalising treats. But the shrinking


world hasn’t just had an impact on our cooking – it has fundamentally changed our expectations of the products we buy and the companies we deal with. Consumers have become much more discerning and demanding: we’re worried about the provenance of our purchases; we want to be assured that what we buy is ethically sourced and environmentally friendly. Providing these guarantees is key for


‘ERP supports


the connected business like no other technology,


linking the front office to the back office and providing instant insight’


ambitions? Earlier this year, Sage spoke with 900 senior manufacturing professionals in the US, UK and Canada to discover their most pressing business challenges – and which technologies they believe will provide the answer. Every business wants to maximise profits, increase revenue and reduce costs. When looking at the future of the process manufacturing


industry, it’s key to look at the specific


priorities of manufacturers seeking to achieve these goals.


manufacturers in today’s competitive landscape. Having the best product or the cheapest price is no longer enough if manufacturers cannot answer consumers’ questions on issues from child labour to the carbon footprint of the supply chain. Manufacturers meanwhile must ensure that they can trace every item from raw material to finished object, knowing that any defect could have disastrous reputational consequences if it results in death or injury.


HARNESSING NEW TECHNOLOGY The future of manufacturing belongs to those businesses that can most effectively harness new technologies to bring these benefits to consumers, while simultaneously reducing operational costs and improving efficiencies. Industry 4.0 and emerging technologies such as AI, IoT and blockchain will deliver greater insight and transparency that will lead to a closer and more trusting relationship between consumers and brands. But with manufacturers under pressure


from so many different directions, and with so many competing priorities, which technologies will underpin their growth


14 NOVEMBER 2019 | PROCESS & CONTROL


SHORT/LONG-TERM PRIORITIES According to Sage’s research, the most urgent short-term priorities for manufacturers in the UK, US and Canada are improving customer services, investing in technology to boost productivity and R&D to create new products and services for their customer base. Unsurprisingly, investment in productivity and customer services also feature among manufacturers’ top three long-term goals. With the rise of vegetarian and vegan


lifestyles and the rise in litigation when contaminated food hits the supermarket shelves, another key area requiring attention is the need for traceability. As we’ve seen, customers are increasingly demanding transparency from brands; manufacturers clearly recognise this, with over half of respondents from each three countries identifying loss of brand value as the chief risk of failing to incorporate traceability within the supply


BECOMING AGENTS OF CHANGE With so many competing short- and long-term priorities, it can be difficult for manufacturers to know where to start. However, Sage’s research found that investing in emerging technologies can solve many of the pressures facing manufacturers. The top benefits of such an investment include reduced operational costs, increased visibility or


At a time when many organisations are preparing for, or undergoing, major digital transformation initiatives, it’s crucial that IT is in sync with other departments


traceability across the supply chain, and automation of repetitive tasks. While manufacturers labour under a


wide variety of pressures, and although there are many technologies that promise to transform their operations, enterprise resource planning (ERP) is the answer to many of the most pressing priorities. ERP supports the connected business like no other technology, linking the front office to the back office and providing instant insight into day-to-day operations which in turn aids strategic decision making. While it’s encouraging that process


manufacturers are embracing the opportunities afforded by new technologies, at a time when many organisations are preparing for, or undergoing, major digital transformation initiatives, it’s crucial that IT is in sync with other departments.


CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES Globalisation, its challenges and its opportunities are not going away. One of the big finds in Sage’s research is that 99% of manufacturers are preparing for growth – and their adoption of new technologies means they are right to be confident. It’s vital, however, that manufacturers are taking a strategic approach to the huge changes that they must make to remain competitive in tomorrow’s business landscape. New technologies including automation


are the key to ensuring manufacturers remain competitive. When business and IT come together in harmony, then manufacturers can harness new efficiencies in time saving, process visibility, content centralisation, reduced long-term costs and data protection.


Sage www.sage.com


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