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Top 11 Manufacturing IT Trends

Dec. 17, 2007
In the ever-shifting world of global enterprise IT, certain trends stand out.

There's so much going on with manufacturing IT that Archstone Consulting principal Mark Peacock couldn't limit himself to a tidy top 10 list, so here are his top 11 trends:

  • Outsourcing of engineering services and manufacturing to low-cost countries is adding significant cost and complexity to the IT environment.
  • IT organizations are being asked to rapidly extend in-house engineering/product data management systems and supporting infrastructure to outsource providers, having to jury-rig network architectures and application configurations to systems that weren't designed to extend halfway around the world.
  • Moving from legacy country/region-specific applications to single global instances of common applications is driving changes to IT delivery models.
  • Support for global systems and infrastructure is driving consolidation of country/region-based IT groups into a single global IT organization.
  • IT is often caught between the new global application's need for common processes and regional business units' needs for flexibility to address region-specific market requirements.
  • Mark Peacock, principal, Archstone ConsultingCompanies are struggling to replace the informal relationship/location-based governance processes that linked IT and business units with more formal portfolio planning and funding processes.
  • Changes and increased complexity are stretching IT organizations to their limits in terms of both capacity and competency.
  • Companies are finding that they don't have the IT leadership (either at the CIO or at the VP level) with the skills necessary to address these new challenges.
  • Companies also don't have the internal skills/experience -- because of low turnover, stable/shrinking budgets and little external hiring -- to develop adequate solutions.
  • IT departments are becoming more virtual -- outsourcing more higher-value activities (e.g., design, architecture) in order to get access to new skills. Cost savings is still the main driver behind outsourcing, but access to new/hot technical skills is growing in importance.
  • This increasing virtualization requires a new set of skills for IT employees -- a shift from managing people and activities to managing processes and outcomes. In many IT departments, these new skills are not core strengths of the remaining IT staff. Leading companies are attempting to re-skill their employees, though many companies are not this proactive.
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