Stefanie Naujoks
Stefanie Naujoks (Research Director, Manufacturing Insights Europe)

Analysing data to gain insights has turned into a core discipline of manufacturing organisations. No manufacturing CxO would deny this. Data can deliver valuable insights into how to optimise products, increase production throughput, improve customer satisfaction, increase revenues, reduce costs.

According to IDC survey results, for 42% of manufacturing organisations worldwide, capitalising on and monetising data are among the priorities to achieve digital transformation vision and strategy. But, to a large extent the data that is used for analysis is from manufacturers’ own domains and is captured in their own applications.

But how about using data from stakeholders and partners in the ecosystem?

Benefits of Sharing Data in the Manufacturing Ecosystem

By sharing and exchanging data in an ecosystem, manufacturers can realise even greater product quality and customer experiences. They can also enable more efficient supply chain execution and production operations and faster and better product innovation than by analysing data only from their own domain.

This is because manufacturers can feed external data into their own data analytics applications, enriching their own data sets. This enables them to apply data analytics that will deliver even more insights on how to solve problems and eliminate challenges, with even more possibilities to detect correlations or dependencies.

Use Cases Based on Data Sharing in Manufacturing Ecosystems

Use cases range from asset optimisation and enabling predictive maintenance concepts to collaborative quality resolutions; just some examples aimed at improving the efficiency of production operations. However, all these use cases require close collaboration for data sharing between plant operators, machine OEMs, or even operating supplies providers.

Among the most frequently discussed use cases are predictive maintenance concepts. And what we currently see is that plant operators increasingly collaborate with the suppliers of their production machines or even with suppliers of their operating supplies. They see value in exchanging data sets to gain much more meaningful insights than relying on their own data only. Sharing data is seen as a key enabler to achieve competitive advantage.

What Will Drive Data Exchange Among Stakeholders in the Ecosystem?

Drivers of data exchange relate to the organisation and people and technology and processes:

  • The more manufacturing experience organisations gain from successful data analytics projects that deliver measurable ROI, the more they are open to projects involving external data sources.
  • Increasing adoption of technology that enables data sharing, such as cloud and open APIs, will also drive data exchange across ecosystems. Data exchange will also be driven by the availability of artificial intelligence or machine learning capabilities, as applying AI-based algorithms delivers even more insights into correlations and dependencies.
  • An increasing focus on environmental sustainability and traceability, which is all about tracking products along the value chain, will also drive data exchange in ecosystems.

The Challenges of Sharing Data in Ecosystems

Sharing data in ecosystems brings benefits, but also challenges. The more manufacturing organisations will want to scale and extend data exchange within their ecosystem, the more they will need appropriate data management and data sharing IT infrastructures and architectures. But it will be key to consider the individually different requirements related to latency, volume, security, or traceability of date exchange.

But what can actually be considered as major challenges related to data sharing in ecosystems from my point of view are the current lack of common data formats across industries and concerns around IP protection, data ownership, and data privacy. I view trust and establishing a “win-win” situation for all participating stakeholders to be a key pillar of sharing and exchanging data in ecosystems.

What are your experiences around data sharing in your ecosystem of stakeholders? If you would like to have a conversation about this. Please feel free to reach out to Stefanie Naujoks.


If you want to read more:

A detailed report on Data Exchange in Manufacturing Ecosystems: Drivers, Use Cases, Challenges, and Outlook has been published on

Furthermore, a recently published IDC PeerScape describes some best practices of how manufacturers from the automotive, aerospace, industrial machinery, and chemicals industries leverage data sharing and data exchange with their ecosystems of partners, suppliers, and customers to solve some of their existing challenges.