The manufacturing industry is embracing digital transformation plans that were accelerated as a result of the pandemic, according to a major recent study from Vodafone Business.
This has led to almost a third (31%) of manufacturers globally being considered ‘Fit for the Future’ (FFTF) and better prepared to deal with future challenges – such as increased competition, changing employee expectations, and rising customer demand.
An overwhelming majority (94%) of FFTF businesses across all sectors believed they were well-prepared for the risks facing them, compared to only 58% of respondents overall. On top of this, 82% of FFTF businesses believe their business continuity plan worked well during the pandemic.
Additional analysis of the research conducted by the London School of Economics found a link between companies being FFTF and business performance. Organisations that scored a 10-point increase in their FFTF score were more likely to outperform their competitors by 36%.
Ultimately manufacturers that are FFTF are more confident and well-prepared for emerging challenges and are better placed to respond quickly to evolving employee and customer demands.

The research finds that the manufacturing sector is embracing the digital transformation that was accelerated during the pandemic. 67% of manufacturers now have a roadmap for digital transformation in place, whilst just under half (49%) are already implementing their digital transformation strategy. The pandemic was a large driver of digital transformation within the industry, with 63% highlighting that they accelerated plans and 48% increasing their digital transformation budget in response.
This acceleration has put many manufacturers in a good position for dealing with future challenges, with 93% stating that their organisation is ready for the future. Manufacturers also understand the importance of technology to their future success, with 95% stating that it is highly important.
As a result of embracing digital transformation, manufacturers are acting quickly to adopt new technologies. Over half (55%) state that they like to be the first to try out new technology, with just 19% waiting for a technology to become mainstream before investing. Manufacturers also believe that they are ahead of their competition when it comes to digitalizing processes, products, and services (68%), whilst 71% believe they are better than their competition at being focused on innovation.
In terms of using specific technologies, the manufacturing sector is further ahead of most other sectors surveyed. The industry is using a range of modern technologies, including Internet of Things (59%), artificial intelligence (47%), robotics (53%), mobile private networks (28%), and mobile-access edge computing (24%).
The research finds that manufacturers are embracing automation, with 44% automating mundane tasks and 39% automating tasks they consider dangerous. On the other hand, just 16% not currently automating any tasks at all.
These manufacturers are also taking several steps to prepare and ensure that future automation has a positive impact on their business. 43% are already training employees to build skillsets that cannot be replaced by automation to ensure employees’ jobs are future proofed.
Marc Sauter, Head of IoT Product Management at Vodafone Business said“This research shows that the manufacturing industry understands the benefits of digital transformation and technology. The pandemic clearly caused many manufacturers to accelerate their digital transformation plans and invest in modern technologies that will put them in a good place for the future. Technologies such as IoT, 5G and mobile private networks will be absolutely vital in securely connecting assets in a factory, enabling innovative and new use cases like Automated Guided Vehicles, AR/VR on the shop floor, Connected Robots. This is helping manufacturers deal with future challenges, increase productivity and flexibility as well as providing them with the tools they need to grow.”

Read the full Fit for the Future Report here.


Read the full Fit for the Future Report here.
*Image credit: Shutterstock

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