Until recently, manufacturers only had to worry about designing, manufacturing, selling and servicing their products. But we are living in a different time now, and wise manufacturers know they need to change to keep up.
It is not enough to only be a manufacturer—customers want more out of their key relationships, and they want the ability to optimize and maximize the performance of whatever product they purchase. These customers are looking to manufacturers to provide an added level of technology, enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT), that enables users to track and analyze usage, whether the product is a tire, an air conditioner or refrigerator.
This means that manufacturers not only have to worry about having to design such capabilities into their products; they also need to consider how IoT technology can help improve and optimize their own manufacturing processes.
As prices of communication equipment and sensors continue to drop, smart manufacturers will be able to gather information from a wide range of devices. With connectivity enabled via IoT, these devices will be able to send valuable information back to the seller or manufacturer. For example, a refrigerator could send a signal to the manufacturer indicating a detected malfunction. With this data, the manufacturer would be able to put in measures to prevent the problem in other products in the line. In another example, an air conditioner might be able to detect when it needs maintenance and send a message to the manufacturer, which can then initiate remote maintenance service. As a result, the customer will be happier and the manufacturer can save on the cost of doing business.
Manufacturers that can extract full value from data gathered via IoT can position themselves to take advantage of new market opportunities. The data collected by billions of things and devices can be used to deliver new services or drive innovation that can help organizations differentiate themselves from the competition. In addition, manufacturers can also connect their supply chain systems to smart devices so they can gain better visibility and control over their extended manufacturing operations.
Customer experience is something that most manufacturers struggle with, but smart manufacturers understand that intelligent devices can reveal vital information, enabling them to drastically improve their customer service. Customers are also increasingly seeking personalized experiences with their manufacturers and suppliers. Modern manufacturing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, integrated with IoT, can often provide insight to deliver that personalized experience. IoT offers manufacturers a huge opportunity to improve their customer service and lower the cost of production, driving higher margins.
In IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Manufacturing 2017 Predictions, IDC states: “Manufacturers are trying to accelerate the speed at which they operate, without adding risks to their ability to serve their customers and maintain corporate standards, including product quality. With the proliferation of sensors and IoT throughout operations and in connected products, manufacturers can achieve visibility with greater ease and affordability than ever before.”
Manufacturers’ use of IoT has gone beyond the “nice to have” phase, and is squarely in the “must have” phase. A comprehensive IoT strategy needs to be in place in order to survive.