How M2M and Mobile Technologies Are Reshaping the Manufacturing Sector

In IDC Manufacturing Insights, we’re working with manufacturers and recommending how they can take advantage of key emerging IT technologies to address critical business requirements in 2014. We’re also closely tracking use cases and trends in mobile and M2M; the use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, and machine- or device-generated sensor data.

Based on this research, we expect technology investments in devices and sensors to be the foundation for the next wave of productivity improvements — changes that will enable future growth and optimize revenue opportunities. Companies are still in the early days of a series of investments that will build upon growing sets of data, stronger demand, and a host of digitally enabled processes.

Capturing and analyzing sensor data

What’s making this possible? Manufacturers are increasingly gathering data from devices and sensors, ranging from location data for mobile assets in large sites to performance data on critical pieces of plant equipment. Even manufactured products being used by customers are in the mix, including vehicles using smart technology and after-sales service for industrial machinery.

In a recent IDC survey, about 35% of respondents indicated that the companies capturing and analyzing this sensor data are typically asset-intensive manufacturers in chemicals, pulp and paper, metals, and other process-oriented products. However, other types of manufacturers aren’t far behind. Companies involved in collecting GPS data from mobile devices are also on the radar screen with usage levels at about 17%. These are primarily enterprises that depend heavily on field service such as automotive, aerospace, construction and industrial machinery manufacturers.

Big data and analytics in manufacturing

The importance of analyzing the data shouldn’t be underestimated. Considering the high volume, variety, and velocity of data being collected and the need to make rapid business decisions, we expect many tasks to involve big data and analytics tools. This trend represents a good way to think about what mobile and M2M investments need to be made going forward, with process improvements high on the list for most manufacturers.

IDC is seeing a major change in how companies use technology in manufacturing and its ability to remove the silos between operational technology (plant and other manufacturing equipment), information technology (software, hardware, networks), and consumer or personal technology (smartphones, tablets). Emerging M2M and mobile technologies are an important part of that change.

Going forward, as your enterprise considers project plans for implementing these technologies, be sure to look for providers that have worked with companies like yours and understand the complexity of smart system environments. Read more about manufacturing-based M2M challenges and solutions in the IDC Market Spotlight, “How Smart Technology and M2M Can Optimize Manufacturing Processes:”

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Kim Knickle Manufacturing Insights Practice Director IDC About Kim