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Sink or swim in the data tsunami

Is too much data hindering manufacturers from achieving an information advantage?

We talk a lot about digital disruption and how new technologies are dramatically altering manufacturers’ business models and operations. While companies are aware that new digital technologies require new skills, less attention has been given to how organizational culture has to transform to meet today’s digital business and create the information advantage.

The Manufacturing Leadership Council (MLC) comments that, “As manufacturing evolves to an increasingly digital industry, it’s not just the technology that’s changing. The evolution also demands a correlating change in business culture, one that moves away from hierarchy and siloes to one that is more responsive, empowered, data-driven, and collaborative.”

According to a 2019 MLC survey, ‘M4.0 Cultures: Collaborative, Innovative, and Integrated’, this cultural change is happening rapidly.

The race for collaboration

Today, only 17% of the MLC respondents said that they had moved to a fully collaborative business model (although 61% expect to within two years).

The MLC report notes that 91% of respondents thought a collaborative culture is very important for their business – even necessary for their survival. Organizations are looking for the ultimate blend of cultural structure and digital technologies to gain maximum value from collaboration – as long as they can tame the data tsunami.

Making full use of data is fundamental to making all this work. Yet, another MLC study found that only 9% of manufacturers are well prepared to organize, evaluate and make decisions on the volumes of data they generate. This data tsunami is coming from connected devices, equipment and assets across the entire enterprise. Manufacturers are aware of this fact. Today, 17% of MLC respondents see the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) as a game changer, rising to 40% in two years.

That said, there’s some way to go before manufacturers are ready to fully embrace the digital and cultural environment needed to enable effective collaboration. For example, the integration of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) has to occur for IIoT data to be available to all the systems and people that need it. However, the MLC culture study found only 10% of manufacturers had already integrated their IT and OT capabilities into one, fully collaborative team.

Edging towards an answer

During the MLC Critical Issues Webcast, we discussed how with IIoT we need to focus data capture, management and analysis at the point in the IT architecture where we can optimize the devolved decision-making process. This means adding intelligence at the network’s edge to handle the data from IIoT devices. It was suggested that there would soon be more data captured at the edge than in the cloud.

This IIoT data becomes incredibly valuable when we can quickly deliver insight to collaborative teams at the point when they conduct a task. This means being able to manage the volume of IIoT data, analyze it and deliver it where it’s needed. Fellow panelist Bill Schmarco, CTO of IoT & Analytics at Hitachi Ventara suggested that by being able to harvest and exploit IIoT data, you’re able to develop a smart factory that can self-mange, self-learn and self-heal.

He commented, “You build profiles about your assets to identify their propensities and tendencies that let you drive uses cases around quality, efficiency, load balancing and the like.”

Making it work

Michele D’Alessandro, VP & CIO of Manufacturing Technology at Merck and MLC board member, talked about how Merck created an analytics operating environment where analytics were integrated into the enterprise’s digital ecosystem. It combined disruptive information tools with existing production data as well as unstructured and external data to drive significant business improvements. Key to its success has been finding the right people and empowering them to improve the way they do their jobs.

D’Alessandro said, “We found that with the right information and the right talent we could drive meaningful business outcomes.”

The early results indicate that Merck has raised the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) from the low 40s into the 90s, and has demonstrated a 5% improvement in yield and 20% reduction in deviation.

While technology is an essential component of Industry 4.0, it’s not the only one. Organizational culture is equally vital but it’s important to understand that these are not two separate entities. Moving to a flatter, collaborative model where decision are devolved to the most appropriate people means ensuring that the data they create is captured and can quickly be turned into actionable insight.

For my contribution to the panel, I shared what technologies can help improve the data management process and prevent decision-making disruptions that the data tsunami can cause.

I explained how our transformative Enterprise Information Management platform brings together key capabilities for Content Services, process automation, AI-assisted analytics and IoT. These technologies help manage, process and deliver data and transform it into insightful information allowing manufacturers to gain an information advantage through collaboration.

Visit our website to learn more about the solutions and services OpenText offers the manufacturing sector.

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Tom Leeson

Tom is Industry Marketing Strategist for the Manufacturing Sector globally. An Engineer by Trade, and Mathematician by Education, Tom’s entire career has been spent in Engineering, Manufacturing and IT helping customers digitally transform their business and their manufacturing sector. With Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things, Manufacturing lives in exciting times, so there is much to talk about.

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