mative technologies, the rationale for doing
so seems to be shifting from the tactical to
the strategic. The largest group of respondents—35%--said the reason their companies are boosting investments is to achieve
true, sustained competitive advantage.
Thirty percent said the reason their companies are boosting investments is to reduce
costs and improve operational efficiency.
The largest group of manufacturers not
increasing investments in transformative
technologies said lack of funds was the
Overall, manufacturers say they are increasing investments in transformative
technologies such as advanced analytics,
cloud-based applications, virtual reality
systems, and artificial intelligence. In the
most recent survey, 68% of manufacturers
said they are increasing such investments,
while only 20% said they are not.
At the same time, more than half of
manufacturers responding to the survey
(51%) said that, besides increasing investments in transformative technologies, their
companies have made a conscious choice
to accept more risk than they have in the
past. This suggests that the potential competitive and strategic value of these investments—in addition to short-term return-on-capital considerations--is having an
impact on investment decisions.
Analytics and AI
Seen as Game-Changers
Manufacturers also appear to be getting more clear about which transformative technologies they expect to be worth investment dollars. Analytics and artificial intelligence top the list.
Forty percent of manufacturers predict-
ed that big data/advanced analytics will be
a game-changer, with 32% saying it will be
significantly positive, but not a game-chang-
er. More impressively, 49% of manufactur-
ers said AI/machine intelligence will have a
game-changing impact on the plant floor.
Manufacturers were a bit less sanguine
about the potential of other technologies.
Only 24% of manufacturers said Internet
of Things (Io T) technologies will be game-changing on the plant floor, while 28% said
the same of 3D printing, and 31% said the
same of collaborative robotics.
And manufacturers are beginning to
align their investment decisions with those
expectations. Twenty-five percent of manufacturers said their companies plan to invest in analytics technologies over the next
12to24 months, with 45% saying they have
already done so.
Other transformative technologies with
strong “plan to invest” numbers included
cloud-based applications (27%), Io T for
smart products, and predictive maintenance software (31%).
Emerging technologies with lower “plan
to invest” results included product modeling and simulation software (15%) and vision systems (18%). Perhaps understandably, fewer manufacturers said they have
plans to increase investments over the next
two years in some technologies that have
already deeply penetrated manufacturing
such as enterprise resource planning software, supply chain management software,
mobile devices, wireless networks, and
Security Seen as Challenges
Even as manufacturers boost investments in transformative technologies and view those
investments as increasingly strategic,
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“For the first
rity a signifi-
as M4.0 leads
levels of digi-
in their orga-
Survey/ M4.0 Tech Adoption: Picks Up Steam /5/7