At IDC Manufacturing Insights, we have recently published the results of our most recent supply chain survey, along with a view of application investment priorities for manufacturers in 2012 and into 2013.
While cost continues to be the top supply chain priority, we see a nicely balanced approach to priorities across the five most frequent responses, including responding more quickly to supply/demand changes, improving product quality/safety, and improving overall customer service. In recent years, it has become clear that IT has proven to be a real help to manufacturing supply chains in navigating uncertain supply and demand environments, so this year we asked companies about those application areas that are most useful in helping them to achieve critical KPIs. Although all of the application choices we gave to the survey respondents to consider are important to the regular operation of the supply chain, and therefore instrumental in the achievement of key metrics, three areas stood out: demand planning/forecasting, production scheduling, and supply chain planning. Finally, in a separate, 2012 Global Technology and Industry Research Organization Survey, we asked manufacturers about their application investment priorities. As has been the case each of the past two years in this survey, sales and operations planning (S&OP) is ranked as the top prioritized IT application for 2012. The continuing importance of an aligned, consensus planning process supports the notion that manufacturers are feeling pressure to better match the supply and demand sides of their supply chains. Further, given the strategic focus around cost and supply/demand alignment, S&OP continues to be the application area that generates the highest volume of inquiries from our clients. For those who are interested in getting a perspective on the topic, I will be presenting on an S&OP webcast next week with an application overview from SAP.