Manufacturers have had a lot to adapt to the past several years, even before the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the urgency on all counts. From localization and forecasting enhancements to supply chain data management and eCommerce, there’s a lot of moving targets for manufacturers to keep tabs on.
We started the year predicting the biggest trends on the forecast for manufacturing this year, and we checked in halfway through the year to see what was keeping pace with the predictions. Now at the year’s end, we have the ultimate retrospective of what manufacturers should have learned from the past year in the industry.
As predicted, localization was indeed a major theme for multiple manufacturers this year, and we predict it will continue into the new year as well. Manufacturers are taking definitive steps to safeguard production with more local factory options wherever they do business.
This is one of the longest-standing industry trends for manufacturing, and 2021 proved no different. Most manufacturers face challenges with forecasting accuracy from time to time, and finding new solutions to mediate this ongoing challenge is always top of mind. CRM is the ideal platform to build a better, more reliable system for forecasting while keeping your customer at the forefront.
In recent years, the manufacturing space has joined many other industries in the pivot to customer-centricity over product. This has been a major theme for our manufacturing clients this year, and we foresee it continuing into the next. New technologies and enhancements to existing platforms are responding to this need for customer-focused solutions and data management that puts customer insights directly in the hands of decision-makers.
Data dependency for supply chains
It goes without saying that supply chain management has been one of the top concerns and an all-encompassing trend for manufacturers. To respond to these issues, manufacturers this year have worked hard to optimize their master data management and foster greater data dependency in the hopes of mediating some of the supply chain crises witnessed this year. The longstanding reputation for high acquisition turnover in the manufacturing industry has also come in handy for some organizations and given them the data fortitude they need to improve supply chain management.
Some manufacturers have a unique opportunity to break into eCommerce, and we’ve seen more and more organizations take that chance this year. While certainly a slower, secondary concern for many in the industry, this quiet trend is changing the way countless manufacturers build out their partner and distributor relationships with PRM portals and self-service hubs.
The customer demand for more environmentally minded companies is certainly there, but what will really drive manufacturers to make a full pivot to sustainability is agency and government regulations. This predicted trend once again did not take off significantly in 2021, but it is still an ongoing issue that manufacturers need to be ready to answer to. As the new normal sets in, the general public will no longer be as forgiving of inaction. Manufacturers would be wise to consider assigning new sustainability executives and forming new departments to tackle this challenge.
This trend has dominated much of the conversation in the industry this year, as organizations across all industries have further cemented theirs strategies for a long-term future of hybrid and remote work options. Manufacturing, in particular, is adapting by creating new strategies for the anywhere employee or cutting back on office time and space.
Another ongoing trend for manufacturers is the expansion of emerging technologies. Between robotics, AI, and IoT, there are numerous possibilities for manufacturers to take an innovative approach to the factory floor. While this trend has been quieter this year as organizations have in general focused more on the basics like data accuracy and supply chain management in light of the pandemic, we expect it to explode in the near future—an eventuality that manufacturers must prepare for now.
Some of these trends will continue into the next year, and others will likely be exchanged for more relevant concerns. Regardless, manufacturers who keep up year after year with the ever-changing customer demands are the manufacturers building a long-term strategy for sustainable growth. Stay tuned for Simplus’ forecast for manufacturers in 2022!