Report: Manufacturers Struggle With Data’s Business Value

Appsbroker and CTS report diagnoses the causes and consequences of supply chain manufacturing’s data-struggles

A new report from Appsbroker and CTS has highlighted the struggles UK manufacturing faces with data. In a survey of 45 UK IT leaders working in the manufacturing industry, 80% said they struggle to transform data into significant business value despite employer mandates. Considering the sheer importance of data to modern manufacturing, this poses a serious hurdle for the industry that the report endeavours to investigate and contextualise further. 

Why does supply chain manufacturing have data-struggles?

The report identified two primary causes of this, data friction and a data skills gap. Manufacturers are struggling with IT complexity, legacy systems and the sheer scale of data they have to manage. Manufacturing IT leaders reported using 32 different data sources on average, contributing to organisational chaos and the loss of this data in ‘data lakes’.

This inability to transform data into business value has serious ramifications for the manufacturing industry. The report revealed that 40% of respondents have made inaccurate forecasts and 31% have made decisions based on inaccurate data. 20% have also missed revenue opportunities and reporting deadlines due to this misuse of data, outcomes which could lead to serious business repercussions. 

Matt Penton, Head of Data and Analytics at Appsbroker & CTS, had this to say. “Reporting bad numbers can have very serious and public repercussions and customer complaints can quickly lead to churn. Unless you’re selling grated unicorn horns, customers can and will go elsewhere. These are the tangible costs that can sink a business when data is used ineffectively.”

Key Findings
  • Data friction persists: 96% of manufacturers face hurdles to becoming data-driven, with 60% struggling with IT complexity, while 36% struggle with legacy systems, lack of resources, cleansing and data normalisation.
  • Manufacturers only use 38% of their data brain – with 69% admitting to hoarding data in data lakes and using just a fraction of it.
  • 90% of respondents think empowering citizen developers will help them overcome the data skills gap, but 87% lack the skills and know-how to enable data citizens.
  • 82% of manufacturing IT leaders say integration issues still plague the IT industry – with 84% lamenting that “it’s near impossible to get a single organisational view.”
  • 73% say the complexity of their data architecture is increasing exponentially. As a result, 91% say associated costs are increasing every year and 69% say it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage.

“Manufacturers are using data for big business-defining decisions, so they’d better be confident that information is right.” Penton continued. “Unless you’re selling grated unicorn horns, customers can and will go elsewhere. These are the tangible costs that can sink a business when data is used ineffectively.” He argues the solution for organisations is starting simply. “Don’t try to boil the ocean – start with a smaller data set and then expand to ensure you are getting things right and doing it promptly. Complexity isn’t going away, but automation, common tooling, low code, and no code can make it easier to manage data. By taking a structured and realistic approach, speaking with experts, and deploying the right tools, every organisation can unlock the power of their data brain.”

As UK manufacturing invests in more data-driven technologies like smart factories unlocking this power will be key to doing successful business in this sector. You can read Appsbroker and CTS’s full data maturity report here

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