Stefanie Naujoks (Research Director, Manufacturing Insights Europe)

The COVID-19 pandemic will have a long-term and far-reaching impact on manufacturing. Manufacturers know that the measures they’ve taken to enforce social distancing in factories or streamline cost management to ensure financial stability will be in place for some time — and most have realized that by now.

At the same time, they’re already preparing for the “next normal” — but what will that look like?

Manufacturers Will Continue Their DX Efforts

IDC’s latest COVID-19 Impact Survey shows that 47% of manufacturing companies in EMEA will invest in technology to pursue their digital transformation, despite the impact of COVID-19. This is good news, and shows that European manufacturers are still committed to pursuing their DX plans.

Given the strong focus on cost management in the short to mid term, however, there will be a reprioritisation towards projects that are more likely to generate stronger and quicker ROI.

Building Operational Resilience Will Be Key

Despite the focus on cost management, manufacturers are already preparing for the next phase — increasing resilience to better adapt and respond to business disruptions. Investment priorities will be centred on improving visibility, agility and flexibility of operations.

Our latest survey shows that enterprise intelligence technology solutions such as data management, analytics, machine learning and AI technologies are considered significantly (24%) or very helpful (33%) by manufacturers in EMEA when it comes to achieving business resiliency.

Our conversations with manufacturers have also shown that investment priorities will include the further automation of operations, thereby reducing dependence on manual work and improving the quality and efficiency of operations. This includes both shop floor operations and the automation of back-end processes.

Better Connected with Customers, Suppliers and the Ecosystem

Our COVID-19 survey also showed that improving customer experience and initiating customer excellence initiatives are key focus areas for 60% of manufacturers in EMEA. From our conversations with manufacturers, we see that this includes better understanding of customer sentiment, implementing demand-driven sales and operations planning concepts, and being more agile and flexible when reacting to changing customer demands.

It also includes the implementation of faster and more efficient innovation cycles, or direct-to-consumer concepts, as well as closer collaboration with suppliers and the ecosystem to scale innovations faster and address sustainability goals — an area that is gaining momentum among manufacturers.

DAE: A Platform Connecting Technology Providers and Manufacturing Executives

There are a vast amount of technologies out there that can help manufacturers prepare for the next normal, including cloud, IoT, AI/ML, automation and digital B2B platforms.

To encourage a dialogue between manufacturing companies and technology providers about how to tackle this next normal, IDC is launching Digital Accelerate Events (DAE) as a content marketing platform to support relationship building and lead generation.

Our Digital Executive Manufacturing Forum, to be held on November 24 on the DAE platform, will provide a great opportunity for manufacturing executives to discuss key issues such as defining new partnerships and building the pipelines for their future businesses.

Please contact Helena Chappell for more information.

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