Data is a crucial component of digital transformation in the manufacturing sector. In fact, it lies at the foundation of every digital initiative. However, data in itself is not a value driver. It must be put to use for organizations to reap its true benefits. With vast amounts of information accessible at a single click, organizations can draw powerful insights and create transformative experiences for customers and business growth. Many manufacturers aren’t maximizing the value from enriching data and missing out on opportunities to grow, optimize or manage risk.
In general, manufacturing operations collect data (often manually), but the challenge is that many may not have a clear idea of how to use it to impact the supply chain or cannot easily access it because it is locked in legacy systems. And simply accessing that data is not enough – organizations must be able to monetize it. With the right combination of technology and creative thinking, this is a realistic goal.
Here are 3 ways manufacturers can monetize data and increase efficiency:
1. Create new revenue models
Manufacturers can satisfy customers in new and innovative ways. With the rise of the subscription-economy, there is opportunity to expand beyond products but also include a service. Organizations can create subscription-based analytics products and with the data collected from IoT devices monitor and use trends, patterns, and insights about their usage. This strategy creates a subscription-based revenue stream, while the physical good itself is often a one-time purchase.
For example, a refrigerator manufacturer can attach an IoT sensor to each of the appliances to monitor up-time and the products temperature. As soon as there is a change in any of these factors, the device can send an alert message to the ERP system for the technicians to address. One of the most useful applications of data for manufacturers is predictive maintenance. This can assist in improving customer maintenance and service, allow opportunities for services and to upsell. Combining and enriching data about pricing, inventory and customer behavior allows the business to make intelligent forecasts through predictive analytics.
2. Share data for partnership and growth
Forming data partnerships and collaboration has the potential to transform value in the manufacturing industry. With this strategy, monetization is not a direct outcome, but a way to build partnerships and expand market share. Data can also enable cross-sector collaboration. An example could be a partnership between an electronics manufacturer that produces alarm tracking systems for motor vehicles and the car hire industry. The car rental company can leverage data from the manufacturer to monitor how drivers are treating the vehicles and to monitor speed. The manufacturer can then monetize both their devices and their data by collaborating across various industry sectors.
3. Get onboard with eCommerce
For a long time, manufacturers stayed away from the online selling space. Feeling that it was ‘too complex’ ‘too high-risk’ were some of the common sentiments. During the pandemic however, many organizations had to rethink their position. With supply chain disruptions and physical store closures, many found themselves discounted from their main channels. Manufacturers have now seen the need to integrate sales and inventory management between online and brick-and-mortar operations.
The beauty of eCommerce is the amount of information you can harvest not only from your own eCommerce site but in integrating with existing platforms. Manufacturers can leverage existing eCommerce platforms such as Amazon to sell products directly to consumers online with APIs, or software intermediaries that allow application programs to interact with each other and share data. APIs are integrated into an ERP system for manufacturers to gain first-hand information on what customers are buying. By analyzing this information, manufacturers can gain a host of critical insights.
Where to start
The first step for those seeking to capitalize on data monetization opportunities is turning raw data into information. Data, whether from client’s system of records, internal, external, or public sources, is often disparate, comes in different formats, and is frequently complex and inconsistent. Unfortunately, conventional techniques, such as manual manipulation through Excel spreadsheets is time-consuming and error prone. The quicker companies automate the collection and validation of data through an ERP system, the sooner they can get revenue.