“Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”
Samuel Coleridge used those words to describe an ill-fated seaman’s predicament in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. But when it comes to data – or more accurately, a seemingly endless sea of data – the sentiment might also describe how many manufacturers feel about their efforts to make it useful.
Most manufacturers have discovered that collecting data is merely a starting point. Nearly every segment of the enterprise generates some level of data, from back-office functions like human resources and sales and marketing, to operational functions like production and supply chain. Taking it beyond collection, however, and into segmentation, management, and analysis is like the difference between filling a bucket with water vs. trying to count and sort the drops.
But those that dedicate themselves to the effort find it to be a wise and worthwhile pursuit. Results from the MLC’s M4.0 Data Mastery survey in this month’s edition of the Manufacturing Leadership Journal show overwhelmingly that data enables higher quality decisions. The majority of respondents also said the increase in manufacturing data has boosted productivity and lowered costs.
Given the massive disruptions manufacturers have experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no surprise that many are keenly interested in moving toward the predictive insights that are so much a part of data’s promise. This type of foresight can help manufacturers activate contingencies for the next natural disaster or supply shortage, or prevent the next equipment failure or production defect.
Having access to a lot of data might make an organization smart, but extracting insights from that data and applying it to business decisions will make an organization truly intelligent. Manufacturers are still finding their sea legs in the realm of data, but it’s likely that many will find that these rough and largely uncharted waters are creating skilled sailors. – Penelope Brown