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An industrial manufacturing perspective: Tech Trends 2019

Beyond the digital frontier

How can industrial manufacturers keep pace in a quickly evolving industry? By tackling transformation head-on and embracing change. As technology trends reshape how value is delivered to customers, leaders can pull ahead of the competition by adopting strategic and operational transformations and reimagining what it means to operate in a digitally-driven global economy.

Technology trends facing industrial manufacturing

As industrial manufacturers find themselves in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, one thing is certain: Change is an undeniable constant. The industry continues to experience change across all fronts: ecosystems, business models, technology, customer expectations, and workforce. Industrial companies, some of them more than a century old, are faced with the challenge of transforming to prevent extinction. To thrive, their leaders must understand and embrace the technology trends that are reshaping the industry.

Focused, industry-relevant insights, from inside and outside their sphere, are critical in making this happen. This guide can help. It provides a perspective on Deloitte’s Technology Trends 2019: Beyond the digital frontier report with a specific focus on the trends impacting industrial products and construction (IP&C).

With this publication, we examine several important trends through the lens of industrial manufacturing—also touching on the macro-technology forces at play and how modern businesses can navigate digital transformation. These forces are actively shaping strategic and operational transformations, redefining IT’s role within the enterprise, and forcing business leaders to reimagine what it means to operate in a digitally-driven global economy.

Industrial companies form the backbone of today’s connected world. Technology continues to transform the way these companies deliver value to their customers through smart, connected products; digital supply networks; and analytics-driven insights. Through real-world examples and key considerations, this publication should help industrial manufacturing leaders gain a clearer view of what lies ahead on the pathway to digital transformation and offer new perspectives for how they can remain in the game and use technology to win.

Macro-technology forces at work

Nine technology forces (cloud, analytics, digital experience, blockchain, cognitive, digital reality, core modernization, cyber, and the business of technology) have been the backbone of innovation past and present. These forces are critical for organizations—their controlled collision can compound the effect of purposeful, transformational change. What’s the “state of the state” of these forces today and how are organizations harnessing them?

Trends in action:

  • Industrial manufacturing firms are speeding their adoption of advanced technologies.
  • As we move ahead, manufacturers continue to automate large-scale processes and enhance execution speed by building a backbone of embedded intelligence.
  • This backbone, formed of Internet of Things, blockchain, and cognitive, can lead to lower production costs; stronger supply chain, enhanced operational efficiency, reliability, security and visibility; and increased agility.

Getting started:

  • Learn from the changes of the past decade. We look back on cloud, analytics, and digital experience as the new normal. Consider what they mean for future trends.
  • Embrace technology at the core. The support organization will increase in importance as new tools affect everything you do.
  • Keep your eye on the horizon. Trends like blockchain, cognitive, and digital reality are next in line to find their place in how we work.

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AI-fueled organizations

Leading organizations are harnessing the full potential of artificial intelligence (AI) for data-driven decision making and generating valuable insights. To become a true “AI-fueled” organization, a company needs to find AI’s place in the mission, rethink its talent, focus on human and machine interaction in its environment, and deploy machine learning across core business processes and enterprise operations.

Trends in action:

  • AI can help industrial manufacturers—from raw materials sourcing through end-user consumption.
  • Within the factory, AI-powered analytics has potential to reduce unplanned machine downtime, improve process efficiency and product quality, and improve safety performance.
  • Outside the factory, manufacturers can leverage AI-fueled algorithms on customer and product data to better match supply with demand and move the needle from remote monitoring to predictive/preventive maintenance services.

Getting started:

  • Decide what AI means to you. Relevant applications can vary by industry, mission, and situation.
  • Strive to become an “AI-first” organization. Change the question from “why AI?” to “why not?”—and get started.
  • Train the people you have. Both in the mission and in IT, the nature of your plan and your maturity to date will help determine which skills to add.
  • Add the skills you’re missing. Hire or contract for talent as necessary.

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NoOps in a serverless world

Cloud providers have ruthlessly automated traditional infrastructure and security management tasks and are increasing the complexity and value of “as a service” capabilities. As a result, technical resources are interacting less and less with the underlying system infrastructure. Operations talent can shift to increasingly agile teams focusing on higher-order (and higher-value) activities that more directly support mission outcomes.

Trends in action:

  • Manufacturers are expanding their traditionally physical product portfolios by introducing digital products and service offerings.
  • Platform-independent cloud and serverless technologies from solution providers are an important enabler, allowing substantial scalability while keeping costs low.
  • Manufacturers can create a variety of “as-a-service” offerings that enable customers to select and pay for the specific services they need.

Getting started:

  • Shift administration to an engineering footing. Ruthlessly standardize, modernize, and synthesize so you can apply engineering principles and automation to operations.
  • Go cloud-native. Pilot and pursue technologies that don’t involve managing physical servers from containers to storage “as a service.”
  • Transform your processes. Make your processes automatable and repeatable without human intervention.

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Connectivity of tomorrow

Advanced networking offers a continuum of connectivity that can drive development of new products and services or transform inefficient operating models. From edge computing and mesh networks to 5G, low earth orbit satellites, and ultra-broadband, organizations across sectors and geographies are relooking at advanced connectivity options to design tomorrow’s enterprise networks.

Trends in action:

  • Advanced connectivity technologies play a central role in facilitating the manufacturing industry’s efforts to connect millions of assets and devices.
  • Technologies such as 5G and ultra-broadband can ensure that vertical, horizontal, and cross-geographic integration across the value chain is seamless.
  • The results can deliver flexibility, visibility, versatility, usability, and efficiency in real time.
  • This includes deeper insights into the production floor and product consumption patterns, real-time updates on market conditions, as well as supporting new “as-a-service” business models.

Getting started:

  • Plan for the upcoming explosion of bandwidth. A wirelessly connected world will bring changes that present new demands and new opportunities.
  • Learn from history. This isn’t the first time bandwidth has exploded. Smartphones changed the ways we keep and use data. What parallel changes are ahead?
  • Button down the status quo. If millions of new devices are soon to arrive, every existing mobile asset must be under control. Begin getting everything under control today.

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Intelligent interfaces

Intelligent interfaces combine the latest in human-centered design with leading-edge technologies, such as computer vision, conversational voice, auditory analytics, and advanced augmented reality and virtual reality. Working in concert, these techniques and capabilities can transform the ways we engage with machines, data, and each other.

Trends in action:

  • Smart interfaces are bringing humans and machines closer.
  • For manufacturing firms, augmented reality (AR)- and virtual reality (VR)-assisted interfaces can help the workforce quickly learn and grow accustomed to new tasks, resulting in higher productivity.
  • AR- and VR-assisted interfaces can help designers more quickly ideate, design, and engineer products.
  • For customers, intelligent interfaces can provide avenues to better engage and realize value throughout the customer lifecycle.

Getting started:

  • See beyond the long-established standards. Imagine new engagement patterns and capabilities that go beyond “click and type” and “touch and swipe.”
  • Rethink training, collaboration, and more. Take advantage of new ways to connect and learn.
  • Unlearn limits. How can intelligent interfaces observe, track, measure, and monitor without deliberate user actions like typing and clicking?

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Beyond marketing: Experience reimagined

Today’s astute customers expect highly personalized, contextualized experiences. To deliver them, leading chief marketing officers are looking inward to closer partnerships with their own CIOs and a new generation of marketing tools and techniques powered by data-enabled emerging technologies.

Trends in action:

  • Industrial manufacturing is set to transform from mass production to increased personalization and customization of products.
  • Real-time actions can reflect data collected from sensor-enabled connected devices and social media, helping manufacturers to better listen and understand customers’ needs.
  • Reaching out to customers (in many cases other businesses) with more targeted products and services can lead to enhanced customer experience and higher retention.

Getting started:

  • Look beyond marketing. Leading organizations are rethinking all the ways constituents interact with them.
  • Create connections. It’s not just pushing information—new tools and techniques enable customized experiences and better relationships.
  • Go all-in on data. Collect and manage information from your customers to better understand the interactions they desire.
  • Fail forward fast. Approach experience evolution with an experimental, pilot-based mindset and advance through rapid prototyping.

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DevSecOps and the cyber imperative

To enhance their approaches to cybersecurity and cyber risk, forward-thinking organizations are embedding security, privacy, policy, and controls into their evolved IT delivery models. DevSecOps fundamentally transforms cyber and risk management from compliance-based activities (typically undertaken late in the development lifecycle) into essential framing mindsets that help shape system design from the ground up.

Trends in action:

  • For enabling digital supply network initiatives, while the DevOps teams work on connecting and increasing visibility in the various supply chain members, the security team can work in tandem to help devise and implement risk strategies.
  • This approach can help manufacturers to create a “secure by design” digital network, considering fundamental sources of cyber risk in the planning stage prior to implementation.

Getting started:

  • Integrate security. Don’t test it in at the end—build it in throughout the system and operational lifecycles starting with requirements and design.
  • Expand your security culture. Compliance is still important, but the focus now is on proactive risk management.
  • Pick bold goals. Propel the culture forward—don’t be incremental on this one.

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Beyond the digital frontier: Mapping your future

Digital transformation has become a rallying cry for business and technology strategists. Yet all too often, companies anchor their approach on a specific technology advance. Developing a systematic approach for identifying and harnessing opportunities born of the intersections of technology, science, and business is an essential first step in demystifying digital transformation and making it concrete, achievable, and measurable.

Trends in action:

  • To build trust and gain momentum, one strategy manufacturers are adopting is to prioritize and invest in technologies across the well-performing business areas.
  • The focus should be on applying digital to both processes and products.
  • Once implemented, the next step is to move beyond point innovation and spread technologies to different areas across the value chain.
  • This sustained effort and willingness can accelerate the transformation pace and result in long-term big wins.

Getting started:

  • Build a recipe file. “Get in the kitchen” to test promising combinations of techniques and technologies.
  • Look for examples. Organizations and companies are already moving to become digital in processes and areas you support.
  • Learn the landscape. New technologies include AI, digital reality, blockchain, and more. Catalysts include concepts like crowdsourcing, human-centered design, and the maker movement. Keeping up with what’s new prepares you to invent what’s next.

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Discover more about the report on Deloitte Insights

As with each edition of our annual Deloitte Insights Tech Trends report, this is part of an ongoing discussion in an ever-evolving field. Our goal is to provide you with pointers to better engage with constituents, make informed decisions, and do more with less. We hope these ideas will help inform and guide your thinking as you explore opportunities to innovate and improve.

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