Manufacturing in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is several years distant from witnessing what we could call a noticeable impact of big data. Simply put, there has not yet been a sufficient volume of big data generated to motivate manufacturers to engage the technology. Companies in the region are smaller, markets are less complex, manufacturers are less mature, and production is less advanced and automated. So far, talk has rightly focused on business intelligence (BI), which is mostly being used for enterprise-wide measurement, analysis, and reporting of KPIs.
CEE manufacturers have acknowledged the difference in big data analytics and BI as disciplines, with distinctions perceived in terms of benefits to be gained from usage and general impact on the industry. In IDC Manufacturing Insights' annual survey last year, we asked manufacturing company decision makers about current/planned usage of BI. Not surprisingly, we got a solid base of around 40% of manufacturing companies either using or implementing these technologies. In the 2014 version of this survey, we asked similar questions in regard to big data, and responses indicated that only 25% of manufacturers are using or implementing this technology.
Nevertheless, IDC expects big data analytics to penetrate the CEE manufacturing sector much more quickly in the future. With about a five-year horizon, the transformation of IT environments will be much further along in CEE; higher levels of automation will be achieved, the cushion of comparatively low labor costs will diminish, and attitudes to cloud computing will improve. This environment will allow a broader range of manufacturing companies to implement big data technologies more easily, more quickly, and with lower costs. Similarly, the size and business impact of the Internet of Things will be much more significant in the near future, making many current BI platforms obsolete and further driving the need for deployment of technologies designed specifically for big data analytics.
As many CEE manufacturers are already familiar with BI, we expect the transition to big data analytics to be facilitated by an understanding of the technology's potential to unlock new values through improved visibility, traceability, and predictability. Unlike BI, the impact of big data usage among CEE manufacturers is expected to be greatest in the areas of manufacturing processes and asset management. We are keenly anticipating new use cases in the coming years that will bring a significant shift in manufacturing productivity, delivered by big data technologies that are used to analyze machine and device sensor data rather than general transactional data. Soon after this, big data analytics will be rolled out down the value chain and towards the customer, both areas that are expected to register the most noticeable impact of big data in the future.