Gunjan Bassi
Gunjan Bassi (Research Manager)
Mark Casidsid
Mark Casidsid (Senior Research Analyst, IDC Manufacturing Insights)

At IDC’s European Manufacturing Digital Summit 2022, on November 15, 2022, over 79 “live” attendees from across 21 countries discussed the key theme of the event — “Thriving in Manufacturing with PRIME — Purpose, Resilience, Imagination, Mastery and Ecosystems”.

The summit featured an impressive panel of speakers from our partners and the manufacturing CxO community, complemented by insights from the European IDC Manufacturing Insights team.

Based on the presentations and roundtable discussions from 14 sessions, our top 10 manufacturing trends in Europe are as follows:

  1. Manufacturing organisations must leverage IT to achieve quick wins and build long-term capabilities

The current storms of disruption in Europe may not change manufacturing organisations’ approach to everyday work, but they had led to a greater focus on solving immediate challenges while keeping an eye on longer-term strategic investments. Immediate initiatives focus on increasing efficiency (to reduce costs), flexibility and agility (to better master unpredictability). IT can significantly help the business to weather these storms of disruption, be it supply chain challenges, inflationary pressures, cyberattacks, skills gaps or escalating energy prices. But IT must also ensure that long-term business needs can be met — key to making manufacturers more resilient in the long term.

  1. Automating and sharing data in an integrated and trustworthy way is a challenge

Often the technology itself is not the challenge — the challenge is having a robust model and approach that enables different technologies and the data they generate to be integrated in a secure way without creating silos so they can provide value to users inside and outside the company.

  1. A zero-trust approach to cybersecurity

Manufacturing organisations must be consistent in providing access and security in every connected environment: from factory-level IT and OT to plants being globally deployed. When mapping the security architecture, manufacturers need to look at the overall security posture. In OT and IT, they need to be careful about both known and unknown threats. They need to build rules to block known threats and warn of suspicious behaviour. The key is to recognise the nature and impact of potential threats and risks, and articulate their vision in a way that is relevant to C-level business leaders.

  1. Location data for process automation can empower OT and relieve IT

Location-based process automation can make IT’s job easier and empower OT to tackle automation projects themselves. Improving transparency and driving process automation on the shop floor is about bridging vertical IoT system silos, including different location technologies (e.g., GPS, RFID, UWB) and respective middleware.

  1. “Phygital” (IT/operational) convergence to avoid business performance divergence

Operational equipment instrumentation is steadily increasing along with factory connectivity, driving the growth of data in the manufacturing industry. Companies that see data management as an issue to solve, rather than an opportunity to exploit, will have a problem keeping their processes up to speed. IT and OT convergence through integrated governance models is a vital step in this journey.

  1. Industry ecosystems will rely on IT-OT integration

Bridging the gap between IT and OT will be essential in the context of industry ecosystems, which are increasingly generating value. A core pillar for this is operational data exchange, but this requires trust, appropriate platforms, infrastructures and applications that support use cases.

  1. Best-in-class companies use intelligent automation to transform their business holistically

Intelligent automation can provide value in several scenarios, such as rethinking products and services, automating operations, streamlining supply chains, engaging customers, empowering employees and reimagining manufacturing. The ability to apply intelligent automation holistically (end to end) will be a key differentiator and source of competitive advantage for manufacturing companies.

  1. Data can be a foundation for sustainable manufacturing

Data will continue to be a key driver of sustainable manufacturing due to decarbonisation, the battle for talent and the need to increase supply chain resilience and optimise production to maintain competitiveness. It has long been said that “data is the new gold” — when it comes to manufacturing, it’s quite simple.​ On the shop floor, making data visible is the key. According to Peter Drucker, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”​. Manufacturers are therefore turning to digital twins to make their factories more resilient overall. For instance, solutions using existing technologies — such as sensors, PLCs and IIoT devices to detect vibration, temperature, moisture, noise, etc., or machine vision — are all available.

  1. Finding the optimal interaction between humans and machines

It’s important to use technology to raise worker productivity and offset the critical skill shortages on the shop floor. It will be crucial to get the right degree of interaction between humans and automation technologies (such as AI, RPA and AR/VR) to maximise employees’ potential and avoid conflict. Using low-code and self-service platforms also helps to make data streams human-friendly.

  1. Doing more with less

As rising costs, supply chain issues and other challenges continue to mount, manufacturers are applying more intelligent solutions and technology to do more with less. It will be vital for organisations to optimise decision-making processes to enable data-driven decision making by utilising industrial IoT, cloud, AI and mixed reality, and infusing them with more intelligent and collaborative business applications.

IDC Manufacturing Summit
Source: IDC Manufacturing Insights' EMEA team at the IDC Manufacturing Summit 2022

Getting Ready for the 2023 Manufacturing Summit in Germany… But First, Some Thank Yous

The IDC European Manufacturing Digital Summit 2022 was very well received by our manufacturing CxO community and our partners, as it provided the opportunity to get the latest insights from IDC and its partners, discuss industry challenges, share lessons learned and network with peers.

We’d like to thank all our sponsors — Citrix, Fujitsu Uvance, Elastic, Kinexon, Nozomi Networks, Palo Alto Networks, Microsoft Radiflow and UiPath — and our Advisory Board Members for making the summit such a success.

All the recordings of our keynote presentations and panel discussions are now available at our on-demand centre.

We have already started prep work for next year’s event, which will be a physical event scheduled for May 22–23 in Cascais, Portugal. We look forward to continuing the dialogue with our 2023 theme, “The Purpose-Led Manufacturer: Thriving with Impact, Scale and Trust”. Please stay tuned.

If you’re interested in joining our manufacturing CxO community or if you’d like to help us to create and shape the agenda for next year’s event, please reach out to Stefanie Naujoks (snaujoks@idc.com) or to anyone on the IDC Manufacturing Insights EMEA team.

Sharing