IDC & AT&T Manufacturing Executive Roundtable 2012

By Wendy Li – August 28, 2012
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In this IDC Manufacturing Insights update we evaluate the most recent IDC & AT & Manufacturing Executive Roundtable 2012. The roundtable hosted in Marriott Hotel Singapore on July 25, 2012 was attended by around 20 delegates, with a mix of vendors and end users.

The Four Forces of IT: Shaping the Future Intelligent Manufacturing Enterprise

Christopher Holmes, Head International from IDC Manufacturing Insights, presented the current threats and opportunities of manufacturing industry in Asia Pacific, and how technology will support and create a new growth platform for future landscape.  Key takeaways from Chris's presentation including:

  • Rising cost is still top 1 business driver and discussion of the next low cost manufacturing center. Delegates participated actively on the discussion of rising labor cost in China and their react to the challenges.  Some manufacturers shifted their assemble lines from China to Malaysia and Indonesia. It is also interesting to see the shift between low cost countries, like the movement of manufacturing centers from Philippines to Viet Nam. Some delegates also pointed out the movement to low cost countries could only reduce labor cost, but increase the capital cost at the same time. That's why China remains as the core manufacturing sites in the short term and fulfill the domestic consumption despite of the rising labor cost, especially for high tech industry.
  • The four force of IT. Navigating a profitable path through rising costs in China, supply chain risks, and fast developing markets requires constant attention, with agile, adaptable and "intelligent" business processes. Chris shared APeJ manufacturers' attitude towards the next wave of technology that will support these processes, namely Big Data/Analytics, Mobility, Cloud and Social Business.
  • Suggestion to manufacturing on adopting the four force to create a new growth platform for future enterprises.
    • Improve communication between IT and business to identify priorities and build a new business case for new investments
    • Put a portion of the it budget aside for testing new technologies individually or across intersections of the four forces
    • Evaluate the pros and cons of being an early adopter , versus fast follower, for each of the new technology areas.  

Lester Chua, Technical Solution Consultant from At&T, shared how mobility could improve the value chain, area including supply chain, quality management, productivity on the floor and in the field, efficiency in the field, and improve collaboration, and connected EHS and security.  Following the application areas of mobility solution, Lester presented the AT&T Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) , which provides a holistic approach enterprises can use to build and execute their mobile strategy. A few user cases, mainly deployed in US side, were shared, including:

  • Sales empowerment. The interactive 3D of parts and full offline capability greatly eliminated costly paper catalogs and it provides ongoing contents update pushed OTA automatically.  
  • Secure document destruction a global shipping company. The currently routes are based on mandated pickup schedules or an estimation as to when the bin may be full and the contents need to be shredded.  The deployment of mobile solution could provide Tracking of 100,000 bins providing real-time data triggering an alert when bins are full and reducing number of pickups. Process improvement could drive a new cost model for the business as well as make some visits unnecessary.  Security concern rises as  key sensitive documents are at risk if they remain in the bin for a long period of time.
  • Remote work in HVAC company. The company provides field technicians with a portable handheld computing device allowing them to remotely access work orders and Field Service Automation applications while in the field, eliminating paper-based, error-prone practices. It changes the way company performs remote work, increasing efficiency and accuracy from the field.

Key questions concerned by delegates include application development for mobility, cost of mobility across international sites, the data challenges of telematics, and network coverage of manufacturing sites. 

  • Enterprise need to create and manage multiple mobile applications, which connect various back-end data sources to the majority mobile device types. Discussion arises from areas like deployment cycle, investment in hardware and software, and also adaptability to different devices.  It is variable to embrace mobility platform across the entire organization, which is consistent, and also adaptable.
  • The concerns about who owns the data is important when considering security issues and ethical issues around privacy.  The marketplace of applications for connected cars is growing, however the market of security measures of this kind of application is still underexploited.
  • As majority of manufacturing plants are located in rural areas, the  reliable network coverage is vital to the adoption of mobility across the manufacturing shopfloor.

This roundtable elaborated the current challenges facing Asia manufacturing, how the four force of IT prioritized and deployed in manufacturing enterprise, together with the benefits and challenges from mobility solution deployment.


About the author

Wendy Li

Associate Market AnalystIDC, MI


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