Technology Predictions for 2012

Jan. 4, 2012
The 'engaged' organization will succeed.

While the tools of communication abound, the strategy on how to connect people may not always be fully realized explains Bob Parker, group vice president at IDC Manufacturing Insights.

In IDC's Top 10 2012 Predictions, the top one is that "success in the intelligent economy will be achieved through 'engaged' organizations. "The goal is create learning cultures," says Parker. Social networking sites enable the conversation, however the key is to figure out what information is important and learn how people can interact with that information and with each other," says Parker.

"This is a new way of thinking. Instead of engineering systems the idea is to first observe how the information will be used and then build the structure to accommodate that, "states Parker.

IT Support in Supply Chain

There is a new landscape for IT support of the supply chain which requires speed, according to another prediction on the list. Automated and instrumented supply chain processes re-emerge as a key drive for business process improvement and data utilization. "RFID will come back," says Parker. One application would be sensors in the cold supply chain. "Companies are confident enough in the economy to begin investing in new capabilities. This is especially true when the investment is tied to securing a competitive advantage." Parker explains that companies that deal with global markets and rely on emerging markets in particular, might find that their supply chain becomes a competitive advantage and therefore worth the investment.

Another prediction calls for manufacturers to focus on clock-speed alignment across both the supply and demand sides of the supply chain. "Supply chain strategies are now about taking risks to get time back. It used to be that companies would sacrifice time in order to mitigate their risks. Now with companies competing against time they will, for example, lock up supplies in advance in order to make sure that they are accessible when needed. It's the return of the calculated risk, "Parker explains.

Lean Innovation

IDC predicts that manufacturers will adopt lean innovation throughout the product lifecycle. This involves increasing the ability to manage multi-disciplinary decisions early in the product lifecycle. It will involve using mobile technologies combined with analytics to shorten the latency of decision making to improve asset availability and output quality. "Lean innovation focuses on the basics of lean principles and realizes that there are a variety of product possibilities coming in at top of pipeline which needed to sorted out as to what is good and what is waste," says Parker. Companies are then able to align design innovation resources to the cadence of what market wants. The stage gate process takes too long and many lose sight of what the market wants during the process, explains Parker. "The principle is how do I balance my innovation resources so it's it sync with the takt time of what market wants."

Additionally, in the coming year there will be greater visibility into the all aspects of the lifecycle via a stronger IT foundation which will enable both internal and external sources. "PLM tools in terms of mobility have been somewhat limited, but that will change," says Parker. "With the consumerization of technology providing a comfort level for users, employees will want to use a variety of tools, such as 3D models, training videos and other apps on tablets."

Factory Driven by Customer Demand Rather than Production Capability

IDC identifies the issue as capability versus capacity. The goal is to ensure that the customer needs are fulfilled rather than making sure that production capabilities are fulfilled. "Instead of focusing on OEE, manufacturers will look at whether or not they have the right capabilities. The questions become about whether a company has the right equipment, with the right people working the house necessary to fulfill customer demand. And that extends the supply chain community as well," says Parker. "What does my customer need me to do be able to do based on the market direction."

To learn about the other predictions click here.

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