Europe’s leading online retailer, Zalando, uses automation to drive business growth and operational success. As featured in MHI’s recently released episode of MHIview, the company has kept up with a decade of rapid growth by investing in the innovative application of automation technologies. The company shares the three key questions they ask themselves when considering the next innovation.
February 15, 2019
New Data Finds Poor Enterprise Mobility Connectivity and Performance Costs Companies $20,000 Per Year, Per Mobile Worker
Study Conducted on behalf of SOTI by VDC Research Looks at the State of Business-Critical Mobility Across Enterprises
Today, more than 50 percent of the workforce (representing 1.7 billion workers) is mobile, relying on technology and mobile solutions to perform their everyday job functions. Many workers—such as nurses, first responders, field service technicians, or delivery drivers—depend on reliable mobile access in real-time to critical information at the point of interaction. Mobility is business-critical, and this reality has put more pressure on companies to find solutions that safeguard customer or asset data for remote workers while supporting productivity, reducing workforce downtime/failures and providing clear ROI (return on investment).
According to a new study commissioned by SOTI, a provider of mobile and IoT management solutions, and conducted by VDC Research, access to increasingly powerful mobile and other internet-connected devices, intuitive and immersive applications and robust networks has significantly changed the way we work. In fact, even one dropped connection or poorly performing application per shift can translate into almost $20,000 in annual support and productivity loss costs per mobile worker. The consequence of each failure incident can result in up to 100 minutes in lost productivity or 23 percent of a daily shift.
The study found that even though workers are relying on mobile solutions more than ever, surprisingly, many are not leveraging Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions to their fullest potential. In fact, only one in five claims to have complete visibility into mobile device (comprising of phones, tablets, POS systems, scanners and other ruggedized Internet-connected hardware) and application usage. This represents a massive underserved opportunity for organizations to further streamline business-critical mobility support as well as improve the end user experience and ultimately a company’s bottom line.
Leading Business-Critical Mobility Investment Drivers
- Improve worker productivity – 36.4%
- Increase sales/revenues – 28.6%
- Improve real-time decision making – 27.0%
- Improve competitive advantage – 26.2%
- Reduce paperwork – 26.2%
While improving workforce productivity remains the leading business-critical mobility investment driver, organizations are similarly leveraging these investments to drive revenues, improve real-time decision making and introduce competitive differentiation.
Worker productivity improvements ranked high as a driver for investment in mobile technology in all sectors – which include healthcare, manufacturing and transportation & logistics. However, there were differences in the primary driver for investment between the sectors. For example, the retail sector with its inherently mobile workforce, estimated at 220 million workers, listed increased sales and revenue as its top priority.
According to Shash Anand, Vice-President of Product Strategy at SOTI, “If organizations are not leveraging an integrated mobile approach to improve the visibility, management, and support of their business-critical mobility solutions, they are limiting their ability to quickly diagnose and fix issues which directly leads to losses in revenue.”
Leading Business-Critical Mobility Investment Challenges
- Data and file security – 46.5%
- Employee mobile training – 40.8%
- Interoperability with existing legacy systems – 38.7%
- IT leadership buy-in/support – 38.2%
- Lack of resources to fully support mobility objectives – 31.9%
- Lack of sufficient ROI from mobility – 30.1%
- Lack of clear mobile strategy – 29.4%
“Frankly, we were shocked to learn that 30 percent of respondents reported that they couldn’t determine ROI from mobility. This suggests that IT teams and their internal business partners need to do a better job of showcasing the role that mobility plays in driving revenue and increasing productivity. Once ROI has been determined, there should be no barriers to making mobility investments,” continued Anand.
Leading Causes of Mobile Solution Failure
- Network/connectivity issues – 49.3%
- Software issues: Application – 40.6%
- Mobile battery failure – 36.8%
- Software issues: Security and access control – 36.5%
- Software issues: Operating system – 34.1%
- Mobile hardware damage (non-battery related) – 25.9%
- Mobile peripheral/accessory damage – 20.2%
- Unauthorized configuration changes by employee/end user – 18.3%
The most successful enterprises consider several key factors when implementing business-critical mobility strategies. These include identifying challenges that affect the success of mobile solutions in the field—from application performance to network latency and data throughput, among others.
The key to minimizing the impact of failure of business-critical mobile solutions is the visibility and ability to remotely manage mobile solutions, as well as:
- Securing devices (protecting data through encryption and passcode policies, locking down certain device features, auditing devices, etc.);
- Managing mobile devices (asset and inventory management, updating and provisioning new policies, pushing out new configuration policies, etc.); and
- Deploying mobile devices (activating devices, enrolling them in policies, authenticating users, configuring policies, provisioning apps, etc.).
The rise in mobility coincides with the ability to use applications to streamline workflow processes. The report found that leveraging tools that can rapidly develop and deploy minimum viable products, like mobile applications, offers organizations an opportunity to streamline this process and stay ahead of application demands.
Read the full findings of the “State of Business-Critical Mobility Across Enterprises” report here.
Methodology: VDC fielded a global survey among enterprise mobility decision makers spanning multiple industries, including retail, manufacturing, transportation/logistics, healthcare, energy, professional services and public sector organizations. A total of 400 respondents completed the survey. The respondents all supported significant mobile estates averaging 2,267 devices.
About SOTI Inc. | SOTI a provider of mobile and IoT management solutions, with more than 17,000 enterprise customers and millions of devices managed worldwide. SOTI’s innovative portfolio of solutions and services provide the tools organizations need to truly mobilize their operations and optimize their mobility investments. SOTI extends secure mobility management to provide a total, flexible solution for comprehensive management and security of all mobile devices and connected peripherals deployed in an organization. For more information, visit www.soti.net.
About VDC Research | VDC Research provides in-depth insights to technology vendors, end users, and investors across the globe. Offering syndicated reports and custom consultations, VDC’s market research coverage of AutoID & Data Capture, Enterprise Mobility & Connected Devices, Industrial Automation & Sensors, and IoT & Embedded Technologies is among the most advanced in the industry, helping clients make critical decisions with confidence. VDC’s methodologies consistently provide accurate forecasts and unmatched thought leadership for deeply technical markets. For more information, visit www.vdcresearch.com.
February 10, 2019
The adoption of smart manufacturing technologies is growing in almost all industries within the leading manufacturing countries such as the United States, Japan, and Germany, and the automotive industry has been a pioneer for most technologies in each of them, finds ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies.
“The automotive industry has been a pioneer in adopting many transformative technologies because it has more of a need and a demand to increase flexibility and agility,” explained Pierce Owen, Principal Analyst at ABI Research. These technologies include Additive Manufacturing (AM), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), Augmented Reality (AR), and Collaborative Robotics (cobots), as well as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platforms. Some of the leading automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) including Audi, Volkswagen (VW), Ford, Honda, Daimler, and BMW have at least piloted and, in some cases, have scaled these technologies.
In terms of overall automation, while most industries have automated 20% to 30% of their operations, the automotive industry has automated closer to 50% of operations. This has resulted in more real-time operational data made available to automotive OEMs and their suppliers. Some of the OEMs use the 3D printers for customized or low-volume production parts, a trend in-line with demand for more customized, low-volume batches.
Smart manufacturing vendors targeting automotive have already seen a surprising amount of progress. Dassault Systèmes has Honda North America using DELMIA to design and simulate its plant floors before building them and works with Cummins on the execution side. Telit also works with Honda North America, connecting its equipment. In addition, Telit works with BMW as a client in its factories in Africa and the United States and has Ford as a client with factories spread around the globe. EOS sells 3D printers to BMW, Audi, and Daimler, and Universal Robots sells cobots to 90% of all the OEMs, and even more to suppliers.
But, to meet and exceed the complex demands of the automotive industry and scale adoption, smart manufacturing technology vendors need to understand the unique automotive industry challenges, offer solutions with obvious business cases, and have a stakeholder management strategy for all involved parties. “As in many other industries, automotive manufacturing faces the challenges of bridging the gap between IT and OT and providing low-code or no-code tools for content creation, app development, and logic configuration,” Owen explained. “Technology vendors targeting the automotive manufacturing industry need to understand that while automotive shares many challenges with other industries, it often takes them to extremes. For example, while all industries struggle right now to deploy new technologies and integrate them with current processes, the magnitude and complexity in automotive manufacturing present greater risks. One minute of downtime in automotive can cost tens of thousands of U.S. dollars.”
If smart manufacturing vendors hope to scale their solutions and platforms in automotive, they must guarantee and prove that they can provide value. “Automotive manufacturing deals with relatively high-value, high-volume and high-complexity products. Neither automotive OEMs nor their suppliers will take gambles on unproven technologies when it comes to their production lines. Vendors must define, prioritize, prove and present their business case before approaching this sector. If they can do so and show potential automotive clients exactly how to implement and integrate their technology without disrupting production, this market will adopt and scale the solution,” Owen concluded.
These findings are from ABI Research’s Smart Manufacturing in Automotive report. This report is part of the company’s Smart Manufacturing service and Smart Mobility & Automotive, both of which include research, data, and Executive Foresights.
About ABI Research | ABI Research provides strategic guidance for visionaries needing market foresight on the most compelling transformative technologies, which reshape workforces, identify holes in a market, create new business models and drive new revenue streams. ABI’s own research visionaries take stances early on those technologies, publishing groundbreaking studies often years ahead of other technology advisory firms. ABI analysts deliver their conclusions and recommendations in easily and quickly absorbed formats to ensure proper context. Our analysts strategically guide visionaries to take action now and inspire their business to realize a bigger picture. For more information about ABI Research’s forecasting, consulting and teardown services, visionaries can contact us at +1.516.624.2500 in the Americas, +44.203.326.0140 in Europe, +65.6592.0290 in Asia-Pacific or visit www.abiresearch.com.
February 5, 2019
Participants in MHI’s Annual Executive Summit, held in Orlando last October 2018, were invited to meet and observe the talents of a potential labor force many had yet to consider as future employees. In a presentation from Don Bossi, President of non-profit FIRST, attendees were encouraged to start thinking as young as kindergarten and elementary school. That’s what FIRST already does, actively engaging kindergartners through high schoolers through mentor-based research and team-based robotics competitions that aim to build upon their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.
Bossi spoke with MHI Solutions in “Fostering a Culture of Innovation, Self-Disruption, Creativity,” an article included in the fourth quarter 2018 issue. In it, he shares ideas for supply chain leaders seeking to nurture a future workforce by building relationships with these impressionable students today.
“As technology changes continuously, the workforce of the future is going to need to be able to draw upon the types of skills that enable them to be flexible, adaptable, life-long learners,” he says. “Not only does their experience on FIRST robotics teams make them technically proficient, but they also learn to collaborate, communicate and work with others to solve problems.”
In addition to Bossi’s comments, the article also includes thoughts from a mentor and two students on the Orlando-area’s 4-H Exploding Bacon Robotics Team 1902. This FIRST Robotics team was showcased during the Executive Summit, interacting with participants and demonstrating some of their recent robotics projects.
Exploding Bacon’s current team lead mentor Elise Cronin-Hurley says that she’s a perfect example of the fact that FIRST mentors don’t have to have engineering or mechanical backgrounds, although many do. “Given our location in Orlando, we’ve had mentors from the Disney and Universal theme parks, EA Sports, Siemens, as well as from Lockheed Martin, our biggest sponsor. Other teams in our region are sponsored by NASA, and of course by other companies large and small as well,” she adds.
“Our team is currently mentored by several alumni of FIRST. Nearly all are college students with years and years of experience building robots for FIRST competitions,” she says. “Their participation gives the high schoolers the perspective that they can translate their interests and skills into a college degree. Likewise, the relationships they build with professional mentors show them a career path that they can see themselves taking.”
Seeing how the subjects they study in school translate into jobs and projects in the real world is an important benefit of participating in FIRST, say high school sophomore Nicholas Sardinia and high school senior Ruhi Lankalapalli. The pair serve as Exploding Bacon’s co-presidents for the 2018-2019 school year.
Lankalapalli, who started her FIRST tenure in an elementary level FIRST LEGO® League team, notes that although her high school offers STEM classes—such as calculus and physics—taking tests doesn’t equate to applying textbook learning to real-life applications.
“With Exploding Bacon, I go right after school to robotics and use exactly what I learned that day in school when, for example, I’m determining how does this circuit board work, or why I should write a program this way versus another way,” she explains.
Both Lankalapalli and Sardinia firmly believe that the FIRST program creates a pipeline for industries like supply chain. Not only were they eager to show MHI Executive Summit attendees what students at their level are capable of by demonstrating the team’s robots, they were also keen to hear how to transfer their skills to jobs within the industry from the people who are a part of it. Both also hoped to recruit more professional mentors and corporate sponsors to engage with FIRST robotics teams nationwide.
“All of the mentors are really integral and impactful,” Sardinia explains. “Whether they’re involved for a day or for years, it makes a difference. That’s because the mentors do most of the teaching, as 90% of the students just starting out on a team don’t know how to take their classroom learning and apply it to the project.”
Bossi says that companies who sponsor teams and support their employees’ involvement in mentorship roles also gain more than just access to a potential pipeline of future workers.
“Employee engagement goes up because they are proud their employer supports this kind of activity, feel good about what their company stands for, and are more enthusiastic at work. They also get a chance to apply their area of expertise in a new and different way, and to learn from the students. Truly, working with kids is the closest thing you will find to the fountain of youth,” he says. “And, it’s the only sport where every kid can go pro.”
February 2, 2019
Leading Edge Alliance’s 3rd Annual Manufacturing Survey Report Shows Companies Expect Revenue Growth in 2019 with a Focus on Improving Profitability and Growing Sales
Eight out of 10 U.S. manufacturers expect to grow sales this year, buoyed by their optimism about the strength of regional, national and global economies, according to the 2019 National Manufacturing Survey Report prepared by Leading Edge Alliance (LEA), a global association of 220 accounting and consulting firms.
“Across the board, manufacturers are optimistic about the regional economy, sector growth, and increasing revenue expectations in 2019,” the report states. “Looking ahead, manufacturers expect raw materials, labor costs, lack of available talent and competition to be significant hurdles in 2019. The tariffs implemented by President Trump provide productivity issues; however, an increase in spending on Big Data and business intelligence are delivering innovative technology for minimizing productivity concerns.”
More than 350 manufacturing executives participated in the survey, which includes respondents who produce industrial/machining; transportation/automotive; construction; food and beverage; and other products.
2019 Survey Highlights
- Growth: 81% of manufacturers expect their revenue to increase in 2019, and 61% expect their overall sector to expand in 2019.
- Economy: Optimism for the regional and national economies has increased by more than 12 percentage points over the last two years.
- Priorities: Manufacturers’ top three priorities are growing sales, improving profitability and addressing the workforce shortage.
- Challenges: Most manufacturers (52%) cited labor/talent as their greatest barrier to growth, followed by competition (34%) and profitability (25%).
The survey identified three key growth strategies manufacturers will use to keep their companies on a growth track: Technology, mergers and acquisitions, and talent management.
- Technology: Manufacturers plan to leverage technology as key to solving productivity concerns; 76% said that they will investigate/prioritize cybersecurity in 2019, and 43% said they will prioritize Big Data/ERP/IoT.
- M&A: More manufacturers are considering a merger/sale or acquisition in 2019; 21% expect to acquire another business in 2019 and 16% are in the pre-planning stage of a merger or acquisition.
- Talent: Faced with a growing labor shortage, manufacturers have turned to a range of tools to improve hiring and retention with 62% increasing compensation, 39% implementing retention strategies and 35% using internal training programs.
“The challenge of gaining a competitive advantage remains critically important,” the report says. “We believe the resilience and success our manufacturing clients have created for themselves will help alleviate the major concerns for 2019.”
About LEA | Founded in 1999, LEA Global/The Leading Edge Alliance is the second-largest international association in the world. It is a high-quality alliance of 220 independently owned accounting and consulting firms focused on accounting, financial and business advisory services. LEA Global firms operate from 620 offices in 110 countries, giving clients of LEA Global firms access to the knowledge, skills and experience of 2,313 partners and 21,355 staff members. For more information, visit www.leaglobal.com.