What is the biggest impact of technology on business strategy?
You just have to look around you at any given moment to see we live in a society driven by technology, as a result, businesses are constantly having to accommodate and harness new technological advances in order to meet the developing needs of their customers.
As an example, one just has to look at the massive impact of the digital revolution on most UK industries, finance and healthcare representing just two, to see first-hand how technology shapes and defines new demands, industries and opportunities. The latest figures released from a 2018 YouGov survey, show that more than a third (36%) of UK businesses are planning to increase their digital spend in the next 12 months in response to the demand – demonstrating the ever growing importance of digitalisation.
However, in spite of a growing plea from consumers, some manufacturers and engineers still aren’t taking full advantage of the opportunities that technological advances have given them. With this in mind, SinoScan UK are taking a look at the impact of digital technology on business strategy and how manufacturers and engineers can benefit.
Data handling and advanced analytics
One of the biggest changes to affect business strategy in recent years is the sudden extreme increase in data available to access by businesses. Artificial Intelligence, cloud computing, Google, social media and more, have all fostered a better understanding of data handling and associated analytics.
Businesses are now able to access, analyse and store much larger volumes of data than at any point in history. Whilst this has many obvious benefits, it has also raised challenges, such as data security. The cloud and new storage technologies, like data document management and AI, have also removed the previously costly and laborious task of managing data; which was once primarily dealt with by human workers and physical files.
As well as improved data storage, analytics have advanced massively. Big corporates in the manufacturing and engineering industries are already reaping the benefits by applying these advanced analytics to improve factory operations, equipment utilisation, and product quality, while also reducing human error and energy consumption.
For example, in the automotive industry, several manufacturers – including BMW – have successfully used data from prototypes, as well as a vehicle’s own recording of errors, plus customer reports, to identify weaknesses in new models before they go into full production.
IoT and Industry 4.0
The rise of IoT (Internet of Things) is commonly referred to as ‘Industry 4.0’ - a name given to the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. This will be the fourth revolution manufacturing has encountered, hence the name.
The manufacturing sector is spearheading the rise IoT because of the revolutionary ways this connected technology has streamlined and simplified manufacturing processes. It is predicted that manufacturers will have invested $70 billion in IoT by 2020.
This digital ecosystem has a plethora of benefits, including real-time feedback and defective goods identification. These simple yet critical implementations of IoT are not only producing better quality products and improving customer satisfaction, but also saving businesses both time and money. For example, food manufacturers are using sensors to determine if their products have been exposed to temperatures, pressures, or other environmental conditions that may render the food unsafe for consumption.
Robots and AI
In the past, robots and AI have been primarily used to perform tedious, repetitive tasks on the assembly line. However, thanks to huge advances in the technology, these systems are now able to take on much more responsibility. Not only can robots increase efficiency and minimise delays in manufacturing, but they’re also being used to improve safety measures by replacing riskier jobs that previously could only be carried out by human workers. For example, remote controlled dump trucks are now being used by many mining companies, eliminating the need for human drivers.
As well as improving production and reducing costs, digitisation has become an imperative part of business strategy when exploring new markets, both locally and globally.
Digitisation is helping to break down communication barriers between manufacturers, suppliers, collaborators, transporters and even customers; integrating them across distinct platforms to provide one seamlessly integrated ecosystem that is fully transparent.
Demand for custom goods
Technological advances now mean custom goods are in demand more than ever. Previously, customisation was a lengthy process; but now with the help of machine learning technology, manufacturers and engineers are able to offer build-to-order production services from start to finish.
Overall, it’s clear that if manufacturers and engineers want to not only keep their customers happy, but also improve their business as a whole, then harness new digital technology is a must. While ‘going’ digital’ is a very broad term, it’s clear that when implemented, the benefits can be huge. This is certainly an exciting time for manufacturing and engineering and it’ll be interesting to see how new technologies shape the industries over the next five years.