Digital ecosystems accelerate smart manufacturing

A regional analysis using digital ecosystems

Rapid technological advancement warranted the need to invest in digital technologies in manufacturing even before the arrival of COVID-19, as companies struggled to improve production and replace legacy systems. As the pandemic began its global spread, the need to transform only became more pressing. Faced with regional stoppages, supply chain disruptions, and production backlogs, manufacturers began to clearly see the advantages of accelerating smart manufacturing initiatives. However, this change cannot happen in isolation − ecosystem players need to work together and manage the industry-wide disruption. This recognition has sparked the formation of manufacturing consortia to ramp up production of personal protective equipment, as well as the large-scale manufacture of new vaccines, in countries around the world.

To delve deeper into this, Deloitte together with the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) ran a survey to examine whether smart manufacturing ecosystems could help accelerate overall production. To understand what this means in practice, it’s helpful to think of a “smart manufacturing ecosystem” as a collaborative network formed when different entities come together in meaningful ways to solve shared challenges and meet shared objectives. According to the study’s results, 85% of global respondents agree that ecosystems are growing in importance, and 87% believe these broad ecosystems can help them stay competitive. To unlock these benefits, however, manufacturers will have to enhance their ecosystem maturity.

The study included an online survey of more than 850 executives at manufacturing companies across three regions: North America, Europe, and Asia. It also included executive interviews with more than 30 leaders from manufacturing companies and ecosystem participants.

This report compares the responses to see where manufacturers across geographies stand today in their journey of transition towards an ecosystem approach. Given the variable maturity among different regions,
manufacturers are bound to face some significant hurdles in implementing a comprehensive ecosystem strategy. That’s particularly the case in the current economic climate, where COVID-19 disruptions still remain a top concern.

In navigating the headwinds of the pandemic, however, many companies have begun to acknowledge the need to maintain momentum in rolling out their smart manufacturing initiatives. As this study shows, companies serious about operationalizing those initiatives can likely accelerate their value by exploring the power of ecosystems. Challenges unquestionably remain, but the ultimate benefit seems worth the effort—particularly as manufacturers gain greater capacity to solve common problems through co-innovation. The countries that embrace this opportunity and accelerate adoption will likely be poised to outperform in the next normal.

View the playbooks for creating the winning ecosystems for the ManufacturingEngineering & Construction, and Aerospace & Defense industries.

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