Ask 10 manufacturers how COVID-19 impacted their operations and business plans moving forward and you’re very likely to get 10 different answers. There will, of course, be as many similarities as there are differences in responses to such a question, but a few clear trends are becoming more evident among industrial companies.
Based on a survey of nearly 1,000 high-tech and manufacturing companies, the Infosys Knowledge Institute has determined that a core shift in manufacturers’ strategy has taken place over the past year—with businesses moving from defensive to offensive priorities and using cloud computing as a key part of this change.
According to the Infosys Knowledge Institute, “Manufacturers have taken the lessons [of the pandemic] seriously and doubled down on digital transformation leading to greater cloud adoption. While many were forced to focus solely on defensive priorities during the pandemic, the high-tech and manufacturing cluster targeted both defensive and offensive goals. The top technology objective of this group in 2020 was to speed up cloud deployment. To enable employees to work from home, they also concentrated their efforts on providing their workforce with mobile access.”
Infosys contends that, as businesses in this cluster shift their cloud adoption goals over time, a “severe decline in defensive strategies” is expected—as early as 2022—accompanied by a climb in offensive priorities.
To clarify who the targets of Infosys’s research were, its use of the term “high-tech” refers to chip manufacturers, network product manufacturers, and consumer device makers. Infosys included this sector along with more traditional industrial manufacturers, such as automotive. Beyond these two industrial groups, the research project also looked at cloud use among financial services, retail, and logistics. Results from those sectors are not included in this article, but you can see those results in the full Cloud Radar report.
Key to these more offensive-oriented uses of cloud computing to propel business operations include improving visibility during quality checks, advancing product development with cloud-based engineering and CAD tools, and deploying new sensor-driven capabilities.
These tactical applications of cloud computing outweigh this cluster’s use of the cloud for broader applications, such as technology integration and supply chain improvement.
“Enhancing supply chain visibility requires cooperation and collaboration across multiple value chain partners and therefore is more complex to address via an IT solution,” according to the Infosys Knowledge Institute, noting that this fact may slow wider adoption of cloud computing for such applications.
A breakdown of the top use cases of cloud computing in the high-tech and industrial manufacturing sectors, according to the Infosys Knowledge Institute, are as follows:
- 63% — Improve visibility for inspection and quality check functions;
- 61% — Use cloud-based engineering and CAD tools for product development;
- 58% — Deploy new sensor-driven capabilities such as telematics and IoT (Internet of Things);
- 50% — Create intelligent energy optimization capabilities;
- 44% — Better integrate with suppliers and partners;
- 25% — Improve supply chain planning, forecasting visibility and inventory management.