What manufacturers want in their digital transformation

Many more manufacturers are considering digital transformation as a strategic priority these days.

That is because as the market shifts to meeting the wants and needs of an increasing number of digital-first business buyers, more manufacturers are prioritizing replacing or updating older technologies.

Where they are starting over is replacing older legacy systems for backend systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), according to a new survey of 150 manufacturers by professional services provider Sikich LLP.

The top benefit organizations hope to achieve when considering a new or expanded ERP investment is using AI functionality, with 60% choosing it. Just over 50% cite a better user experience. Meanwhile, just under 50% identify the top benefit as improved integration across separate applications.

Manufacturers’ digital transformation priorities

The main area of interest in AI for most organizations according to respondents is robotic process automation. More than 60% of participants identify robotic process automation (RPA) as their main area of interest in AI. Machine learning for demand forecasting and predictive analytics were also popular areas of AI interest.

The three top technologies manufacturers are considering investing in over the next 12 months to 18 months are:

  1. CRM (customer relationship management)
  2. ERP (enterprise resource planning)
  3. DMS (demand management system)

“Given that many participants consider lack of visibility across the supply chain a challenge or barrier to meeting customer commitments, it follows that they might view ERP as a helpful tool to overcome this challenge,” the survey says.

Manufacturers’ main reason (49%) for considering an ERP investment is to expand their current ERP footprint, which implies that these companies have already embarked on that journey. Others are considering it because they are transitioning from on-premises to the cloud, cited by 37% of respondents. The findings suggest manufacturers are looking for improved security, convenience, and potential cost savings with their ERP investment, according to Sikich.

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