With innovation available in nearly every aspect of the automotive industry, many organizations are left wondering, what they should prioritize to stay on the cutting-edge? What areas of focus will provide the most opportunity for growth, and what should they invest in to improve their bottom lines?
The annual Best Practices for Automotive research project sought to answer these questions. The project took the conference team across North America in a series of focus groups. Plus, an anonymous survey helped capture the industry’s hidden motivators and critical success factors. After meeting with professionals across all automotive industry sub-segments, the following top five themes emerged as the most impactful for driving opportunity and thriving in today’s innovation race.
Connected Manufacturing (Industry 4.0)
Gone are the days when efficiency and quality were enough to drive market leadership. As the world economy has become interconnected and consumer tastes have become increasingly fickle, demand has become more variable and as a result agility, customization and speedy response times are the norm. To combat these complexities, connected manufacturing provides end-to-end visibility and control by connecting people, process and supply chains. Shop floor automation delivers real-time insight, superior quality and optimized utilization of resources. Automotive organizations should explore technologies that can facilitate this integration and allow seamless transmission of data between manufacturing and other business units.
“Even at this early stage, manufacturer commitment to digital transformation is strong. Preliminary findings from Aberdeen Group’s analysis found that 35% of manufacturers plan to achieve digital transformation (industrial IoT, Industry 4.0, smart manufacturing).”
Innovative with Analytics, Robotics & Big Data
The overflow of data generated throughout all aspects of the industry is creating a challenge for automotive companies to develop actionable insights rather than collecting data just because it’s available. Real-time analytics are critical for visibility into operations as well as managing customer expectations. Solutions such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), the Cloud and IoT enable automotive organizations to view their entire enterprise easily spotting trends and predicting and prescribing challenges and opportunities. Analyzing the right data and allowing it to drive your business is a key competitive advantage because it removes subjectivity in the decision-making process and prioritizes your customer’s needs.
The success of implementing new processes and technologies depends on winning the hearts and minds of the users. This crucial and often neglected aspect of managing change is difficult to navigate. Employees require consistent attention, training and engaging. Then there’s the challenge of retaining knowledge from an aging workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24.8% of the American workforce will be 55 and older by the year 2024. Leaders must have a long-term strategy to adequately prepare for organizational changes that are likely only going to become more and more prevalent.
Standardize, Simplify, Systematize
Globalization means more complexity. Transactions in multiple languages, currencies, EDI standards and cultures creates a multifaceted model of business. To drive growth and value, the automotive industry must standardize, optimize and streamline to support these complexities. Savvy organizations recognize that standardization does not mean having only one method, but rather reducing the number of methods available and allowing for necessary variations. Simplifying will help automotive companies combat the highly variable and ever-changing digital world.
Build a Business Case for S/4HANA
To supplement the Best Practices for Automotive research, an anonymous survey was conducted to practitioners in the industry. Of the automotive professionals surveyed, less than 20% are currently using S/4HANA but 67% plan to migrate within one to five years.
More and more organizations are transitioning from ECC to SAP S/4HANA, but many others are still struggling to fit the migration into their timeline or business plan. For these organizations, the struggle is often finding the business case. Automotive companies are seeking best-in-class examples of use case studies where significant business outcomes were realized after migrating. While professionals in IT and business alike benefit from HANA, there are still several barriers in its implementation. Businesses don’t want to lose customization and functionality of their current solutions but recognize that S/4HANA is core to enable high-value business opportunities.
Download the complete research report below for a comprehensive look at the industry trends and topics that emerged. These topics will be the framework for the content presented at the 2018 Best Practices for Automotive conference.