Manufacturers should invest in analytics for the future

A survey on manufacturing analytics shows a stark contrast in performance between companies that have adopted analytics and those that haven't.

By Larry White July 3, 2024

The Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association, in collaboration with LNS Research, has recently unveiled the findings of their eagerly anticipated biannual survey, “Analytics That Matter.” This study sheds light on the tangible benefits that industry pioneers have reaped from their strategic investments in analytics capabilities. For organizations on the fence about amplifying their investment in manufacturing analytics, this piece sheds light on the significant benefits and success stories that could sway your decision.

A pivotal aspect underscored by the survey is the imperative role of finance in sculpting the investment blueprint that paves the way for a digital transformation. The data reveals a stark contrast between leaders and laggards in the application of analytics, with the former achieving leaps in decision-making speed and depth of benefits throughout the organization, significantly outstripping their peers.

The survey respondents pinpointed the driving forces behind their analytics investments as twofold: bolstering business profitability and mastering risk management. The strategic focus of analytics endeavors was primarily on harnessing these tools to solve core business challenges. Companies at the forefront of analytics adoption are not just reaping superficial benefits; they are revolutionizing their operations from the ground up. By disseminating the power of analytics throughout their organizations, they empower frontline workers and supervisors with the means to enhance productivity and effectiveness. This grassroots empowerment is manifested in marked efficiency boosts, cost reductions, and broader operational improvements.

Leaders in analytics adoption distinguish themselves by fostering synergistic teams of data scientists and manufacturing experts, a strategy that has proven nearly three times as effective as that of their counterparts in pinpointing and addressing operational inefficiencies. These trailblazers prioritize widespread analytics training, cultivating a robust internal culture of data literacy and enabling a “citizen data scientist” movement within their ranks.

The survey also notes that in leading companies, analytics initiatives are often spearheaded by departments other than manufacturing, ensuring that manufacturing’s focus remains undivided on its primary objective: product delivery. However, followers in the analytics race often delegate this critical leadership role to plant managers or manufacturing teams, a choice that may hinder their progress.

The survey also sheds light on the obstacles faced by those lagging behind in analytics adoption, with data quality and technological hurdles at the forefront. However, the underlying challenge appears to be securing buy-in across all levels of the organization, from operations to the plant floor. Leading firms treat analytics as a holistic challenge, integrating people, processes, and technology into their strategy.

The role of manufacturing finance teams is highlighted as crucial in orchestrating the organizational shift required to embrace analytics and modernization fully. By demystifying the connection between analytics and its value chain impact — from operational tweaks to financial upliftment — finance acts as a vital bridge between manufacturing, IT, and other supportive functions. This collaborative approach not only accelerates the identification and capture of business benefits but also aligns all stakeholders towards a unified objective. Such clarity and unity of purpose are instrumental in securing the support of senior leadership, enabling project teams to focus on execution and outcomes rather than the constant justification of resources.

In essence, the “Analytics That Matter” survey offers a compelling narrative that champions the strategic integration of analytics into manufacturing operations. It presents a clear call to action for businesses to embrace this digital evolution, highlighting the profound impact analytics can have on operational efficiency, risk management, and overall business success.

MESA International is a content partner.

Original content can be found at MESA International.

Author Bio: Larry White, Profitability Analytics Center of Excellence