“If you went to bed last night as an industrial company, you’re going to wake up today as a software and analytics company.” For me, this statement by GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt captures the essence of the deep transformation that smart manufacturers are embarking on today. Globalisation, fierce competition and more demanding customers are reshaping their industries — and ‘Smart Connected Manufacturing’ is DXC’s recommended response.

Smart Connected Manufacturing is our way of describing the total integration of plants, processes, products and people across the entire ecosystem. By connecting operational, information, communications and consumer technologies, manufacturers gain insights that let them convert concepts to value faster. Streamlined, vastly more efficient operations, reduced costs and increased speed to market are other highly desirable outcomes.

The digitization of manufacturing is pervasive and unstoppable. Analyst group Gartner predicts that by 2020, seventy percent of all customer touch points will be digital. Emerging drivers also include the growing pressure for product quality, traceability and transparency and demands for increasing levels of service. And, it’s estimated that in the region of thirty billion digital devices will be ‘talking to each other’ by 2020.

Companies already on their Smart Connected Manufacturing journey are seeking to exploit abundant opportunities to simplify the design, production and delivery of products to market through the means of enhanced data insights. OEMs have the power to understand — even anticipate — what the consumer wants, to sell into new and emerging markets and to bring innovative products and services to market faster than ever before.

Industry 4.0 is often perceived as being all about next-gen technology, but Smart Connected Manufacturing goes far beyond by also focusing on people

By standardising global processes and complex supply chains, manufacturers can accelerate performance to further reduce costs, increase cash flow and grow revenue. Gaining insights that drive product innovation, also decreases aftersales costs and improves service quality, both of which improve the final customer experience.

Industry 4.0 is often perceived as being all about next-gen technology, but Smart Connected Manufacturing goes far beyond by also focusing on people: promoting collaboration between employees (e.g. equipping them with digital tools and compute performance on demand) speeds up development cycles and raises quality. Connecting suppliers, engineers, production teams and customers boosts innovation through shared insights.

The acid test, of course, is how Smart Connected Manufacturing works in practice and there is plenty of feedback in the pipeline as more manufacturers adopt this approach. I’d like to share a great example where we partnered with a globally renowned car manufacturer National Electric Vehicles Sweden (NEVS) to build an end-to-end, automated manufacturing chain for the production of next-generation electrical vehicles in Sweden and China.

NEVS integrated end-to-end process coverage rolls up all data points into the financial system and gives instantaneous control of business performance, making it easier to keep up with the shifting landscape. If there‘s a regulatory change, for example on electric vehicle subsidies from central or local government in China, NEVS can determine the direct impact to operations and profitability right away and take appropriate action.

Another manufacturing giant currently reaping the dividends of connected manufacturing is UK defence player, BAE Systems, which turned to DXC for help in integrating a newly acquired company. A common ERP system with consistent and optimized processes has enabled respective UK and Swedish organizations to improve user satisfaction and customer service while creating a collaborative foundation for future projects.

Both these examples show that standing still isn’t an option in our digital economy, and those who get going on their smart connected manufacturing journey have a head start in growing their businesses. There’s always a way of advancing your manufacturing capabilities, whether at the beginning, the end, or at any point in between, and DXC is on hand to guide the way.