Digital transformation initiatives in U.S. manufacturing continue to grow

U.S. manufacturers have made solid progress toward digitalizing their entire value streams, but more work is needed.

By Manufacturers' Alliance May 21, 2024

Manufacturers Alliance Foundation, in collaboration with Siemens USA, released a research report highlighting the advances of digital transformation in manufacturing. According to the study, titled “Digitalization Gains: Manufacturers Forge Ahead with Digital Transformation,” over the past few years U.S. manufacturers have made solid progress toward digitalizing their entire value streams, including supply chain optimization, data analytics, and product development. However, the research also underlines how this progress has been slowed by corporate digital strategies that focus on fragmented one-off high-priority pilots rather than more long-term systematic approaches.

The study surveyed 199 C-suite level leaders from primarily U.S.-based mid-cap to large-cap manufacturing companies of various industry subsets.

“Manufacturers have visions for their digital transformation roadmap, yet the vision in practice is falling short,” said Manufacturers Alliance Foundation president Stephen Gold in a press release. “Judging by our findings, by taking a fragmented approach, instead of collaborating across the entire organization ecosystem, manufacturers are only inching towards the competitive advantage they hope digitalization will provide them.”

Specifically, according to the report, digitalization is either already operational or being implemented by about 80% of survey participants for supply chain optimization, product planning and development, and production efficiency, and data analytics and business intelligence. However, the leaders also observed that difficulty measuring digital transformation ROI, lack of alignment between functions, and inefficient use of data and analytics are the top challenges preventing manufacturers from rapidly progressing their transformation journeys.

The study noted companies implementing more systematic approaches, dovetailing their digitalization roadmap with a business case for moving forward, are often the manufacturers who have made the most technological advancement.

“By taking a collaborative approach with a long-term strategy, we’re seeing manufacturers reap the rewards of digitalization in a way not realized by individual activations,” Del Costy, president and managing director of Siemens Digital Industries, U.S., said. “These findings emphasize the importance of embracing an ecosystem to ensure a successful and efficient digital transformation of manufacturing.”