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3 Stats That Show How Canadian Manufacturers Are Primed For Digital Transformation

3 Stats That Show How Canadian Manufacturers Are Primed For Digital Transformation

In Canada’s top businesses, digital tools are utilized to boost productivity, develop informed strategies, attract customers and improve quality.

Canadians are more than the myths that have grown up around us.

There are plenty of times and places, for example, where there’s not a snowflake to be seen. Some of us enjoy basketball and golf more than hockey. You can live here your entire life without ever seeing a moose or bear in person.

Manufacturers have a subset of myths all their own, none of which are necessarily true either.

There’s the myth that manufacturers will be slower to embrace innovation than companies in other sectors. Or the idea that manufacturing employs low-skilled workers who will resist digital tools.

A third myth is that manufacturing involves processes too complex to synthesize all the data to find transformative insights.

Research that tells the truth about Canadian manufacturing

The best way to counteract myths, of course, is to present hard evidence to the contrary. That’s one way to read Salesforce’s Trends In Manufacturing Report, a study based on a survey of more than 750 manufacturing leaders released earlier this year.

According to the data, which includes responses from 50 manufacturers in Canada, companies see technology not merely as a way to boost productivity and efficiency in their day-to-day operations, but to develop a more informed strategy.

Eight in ten global firms, for example, recognize the need for new approaches and new tools for accurate forecasting, and 81 per cent described moving their planning process to the cloud as a high priority.

Manufacturers are more driven to explore fresh ways of working in part because of the challenges that have emerged since the outbreak of COVID-19. This includes the way they attract new customers and the quality of the experience they deliver to them. More than a third, or 31 per cent, said the pandemic significantly changed their need for improved marketing/customer communications, and nearly as many said the same thing about customer service.

Beyond the global findings, some of the Canada-specific stats show where manufacturers here are headed on their digital journey — and what it will take for them to be successful:

86% of Canadian manufacturers say digital transformation is their top priority for improving operations

You might say COVID-19 led Honda Canada to put the pedal to the metal in terms of digital transformation.

While the company had already been working on a customer portal called MyGarage to book service appointments, log cases and perform other functions, the pandemic brought an increased sense of urgency. As a result, a project that was initially slated to take three years started to reach milestones in a matter of three months.

This is just one example of a Canadian manufacturer that’s not only fine-tuning existing processes but looking for ways to offer customers additional value. In fact, introducing new service offerings was tied for top digital transformation priority among Canadian manufacturers in our research, cited by 86 per cent.

44% of Canadian manufacturers consider legacy tools and dispersed data serious challenges

It took years in some cases for Canadian manufacturers to deploy enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and other critical applications across their organization. That makes weaving in a modern tech stack among those older tools a major undertaking.

Just because Canadian manufacturers recognize this challenge doesn’t mean they’ll run away from it, however.

Take Premier Tech, a Quebec-based firm which specializes in packaging systems customers in the nutrition, agricultural, organics and industrial sectors. The family-run business has been in operation for 100 years, but it’s still prepared to deploy new technology in order to stay agile and competitive.

By deploying Salesforce to 16 of its 27 sites prior to the pandemic, for instance, Premier Tech was able to more effectively assign and manage its team of field service technicians. An application using Service Cloud Lightning, meanwhile, is allowing the company to monitor requests and measure response times in order to continue improving its customer experience.

Expect to see more Canadian manufactures overcome their legacy IT challenges, especially when they’re crystal-clear about the business outcomes they’re trying to achieve.

82% of Canadian manufacturers are prioritizing improved demand planning and increased efficiencies over the next two years

Success in manufacturing, whether in Canada or elsewhere, often comes down to two key factors: getting visibility into the challenges ahead and tackling them quickly with no wasted effort.

The right use of technology pays big dividends here too. Imagine if you were working at Greenfield Global, a leading ethanol manufacturer, when COVID-19 ground demand for its core product to a halt.

By adopting Salesforce, Greenfield Global had already ensured it had the tools in place to understand its customer needs and to communicate with them effectively. That provided the foundation for the company’s pivot into producing hand sanitizer at a time when having an adequate supply was critically important.

Next steps for Canadian manufacturers

Manufacturers were caught just as off-guard as every other sector over the events of the last 18 months. The investments they’re making in digital technologies today, however, are giving them greater confidence in facing the long-term future.

Among global manufacturers that consider themselves “future-ready,” for instance, our research found the vast majority, or 84 per cent, are able to react rapidly to market changes compared to the rest of the industry. They are also 2.2 times more likely to have moved their sales and operations systems to the cloud.

The next step for manufacturers will likely involve taking a critical look at many of the other manual processes they have in place today and determining the right approach to digitization and optimization. This could include everything from generating quotes and proposals to how leads and opportunities are reported to determine the next best action for their key accounts.

Fortunately, technology is keeping pace to support these areas with platforms like Salesforce for Manufacturing, which have been purpose-built with the sector’s needs in mind. And with more case studies like Honda Canada, Premier Tech and Greenfield Global to point towards, the way forward is becoming ever clearer.

Much like all those myths about Canada, the reality of what’s going on in manufacturing is far more nuanced and interesting. As more firms demonstrate successful digital transformation, the facts will come to speak for themselves.

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