Brian Heckler, KPMG’s US National Sector Leader for Industrial Manufacturing, provides a perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing US manufacturers.
US manufacturers know they are operating in a highly competitive global marketplace. New competitors and disruptors continue to emerge from the East while new technologies are speeding up the product lifecycle.
As manufacturers contemplate this reality, many are also continuing to focus on optimizing their manufacturing operations and managing what is becoming an increasingly complex and interdependent value chain.
Probably the most exciting and compelling story in the US right now is how technology is rapidly changing the US manufacturing environment. 3D printing, nanotechnology, advanced material sciences and – increasingly – the rise of ‘connected products’ are all changing the way manufacturers design, make and sell products.
With 63 percent of US respondents saying they plan to invest in technologies related to the Internet of Things (IoT), the next few years should bring significant change to existing business and operating models. New, smart and always connected products enable manufacturers to create closed-loop product lifecycle management strategies and – in many cases – shift from selling products to also providing services (which can provide a more secure source of reliable revenue).
Without a doubt, connected products promise to deliver more value to manufacturers’ customers. But it’s not just about who gets there first, it’s also about how ‘smart’ they can make their machines and how ‘sticky’ their products can become by virtue of solving an end-customer basic need. The US is ripe ground for data, analytics and cognitive computing to coalesce, leveraging mobility and technology to deliver new solutions and, in doing so, create massive competitive advantages for traditional business-to-business product companies.
Not since the rise of digital in the 1980’s has the US manufacturing sector been so exciting. However, for US manufacturers to make the most of these advances and technologies, they will first need to improve their own process and analytics capabilities, explore new business models, look to adjacencies and rethink their value propositions.
Q: What is the greatest threat to growth for manufacturers in the US today?
Brian: New world competition.
Q: What are US companies doing differently do drive growth?
Brian: Strategic portfolio management.
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