In 1991, Geoffrey Moore published his seminal book on high tech marketing called “Crossing the Chasm”. Moore’s thesis was that there is a gap, or chasm, between early adopters of a high technology product and the mainstream early majority. His work essentially identified differences between visionaries and pragmatists.
In a way, the manufacturing industry is facing its own chasm when it comes to mastering data about operations. The industry has spent years putting in plant floor networks, attaching sensors to equipment and processes, and is now generating volumes of data that are predicted to grow exponentially and which will have to be well analyzed in order to provide business benefits.
Manufacturing executives say, as evidenced by MLC’s new Data Mastery Survey, that, at least at this point in time, the benefits they are looking for include lower operational costs, higher uptime, greater speed, and better quality – all proper and laudable objectives.
These expectations are most likely governed by where their organizations are on the maturity curve. Most companies, MLC research indicates, are in the data gathering, monitoring, and simple analysis phase. More sophisticated abilities to predict and even prescribe using data are yet to come, but they constitute a vision of what’s possible.
It is a vision that looks at data, and the intelligence from it, as a source of insight that can not only improve operational metrics such as cost and efficiency but can also reveal new and different ways of doing things and new things to make. The idea is that there are hidden gems in the data that perhaps had not been thought of and that, if properly mined, understood, and exploited, can lead to new, lucrative business models for manufacturers.
Seem far-fetched? Maybe, but even if this vision is only partially realized, manufacturing will rise to a new level of innovation. The challenge for manufacturers is to develop the data competencies necessary for them to make the leap – across the chasm – between tactical benefits and more business-changing strategic advantage.
It’s time to strengthen those leg muscles. M