The top business priorities for leading manufacturers

By Glen White
As global manufacturers grapple with how to employ a unified product and service innovation approach to best succeed in today's global economy, IDC...

As global manufacturers grapple with how to employ a unified product and service innovation approach to best succeed in today's global economy, IDC Manufacturing Insights embarked on a survey to better understand manufacturers' product and service innovation methods, practices, and plans. 

The results, highlighted in the new report, “2015 Product & Service Innovation Survey: Ensuring Quality is the Primary Goal,” reveal that the disciplines of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) are evolving to become strategic business initiatives for leading manufacturers. 

According to the report, manufacturers are moving away from investing in standalone engineering and service workgroup tools, and toward more strategic initiatives like product innovation platforms and service transformation in the coming years. 

Manufacturers across value chains face competitive and market pressures, customer demand, and complex products and value chains that necessitate a broader approach to how products are designed, delivered, and serviced. 

According to the new report, manufacturers are looking to integrate their enterprise systems, data, and processes, to leverage new models in mobile and cloud, and apply a virtual control panel of analytics to their product, supply, manufacturing, and service processes - all in the name of achieving high quality, innovative products. 

“These are truly exciting times for manufacturers, users, and IT suppliers of product and service innovation technologies,” said Jeffrey Hojlo, Program Director, Product Innovation Strategies, IDC Manufacturing Insights. 

“The complexity is massive on so many fronts: product, value chain, manufacturing, and service.  Technologies exist today to address this complexity but the challenge (and opportunity for IT suppliers) is integrating them together as appropriate, providing an easy way for the user to manage, analyze, consume, and apply product and service information for innovation and competitive advantage.”

How manufacturers design, engineer, manufacture, and service products has changed dramatically in  recent years, driven by multiple factors such as the increase in complex, "smarter", connected products, unique, dynamic demand from customers, and highly competitive markets particularly in  emerging economies. No longer can manufacturers afford to manage their ideas, product data, quality information, and service processes in unique siloes spread across the enterprise; they must consider how to unify this information to satisfy customer demand, reduce development cycles, and improve response to quality and service issues. 

“Clearly, manufacturers understand that one of the best ways to outpace the competition and expand into new markets is to focus efforts on innovation and deliver exceptional products to market that reflect customer demands,” added Heather Ashton, Research Manager, Service Innovation and Connected Products Strategies, IDC Manufacturing Insights. 

“There is a desire to scope this in a way that reflects an efficiency and effectiveness to meet manufacturers' desires for organizational excellence.  Additionally, manufacturers have prioritized expansion into new markets and new customer bases, with an understanding that some of the greatest potential for growth may exist beyond captive markets.” 

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