How The Intelligent Enterprise Drives Digital Manufacturing

Mike Lackey

Part 4 in the series “Digital Manufacturing

Today’s manufacturers have an intelligence issue. They lack the real-time data they need to efficiently manage global operations, costs, materials, suppliers, and customers, hindering their ability to drive smarter, more effective decision making.

To succeed in today’s fast-paced digital world, manufacturers must strive to be more connected.

By increasing connectivity and gaining access to a wealth of customer, shop-floor, and supply chain insight, you can transform your organization into an intelligent enterprise. This will empower you to automate processes, create individualized products, and meet ever-evolving customer expectations.

What an intelligent enterprise looks like

A truly intelligent digital manufacturing organization can take orders in the morning, build customer-specific products in hours, and ship the goods by the end of the day.


They create connections between their processes to generate massive volumes of insight and turn that insight into action. They also use innovative system networks that enable them to share crucial customer, shop-floor, and enterprise data with their employees and partners.

Companies that leverage this increased intelligence and shared insight can drive greater efficiencies by automating processes. And they gain the agility and flexibility they need to produce and deliver the lot size of one.

An auto manufacturer, for instance, can equip its workers with wearables, tablets, and other smart devices that deliver data at the point of work, making it easier for employees to customize a vehicle’s interior, exterior, drivetrain, or engine.

And because the manufacturer is constantly connected to its logistics provider through a real-time network, the customized vehicle can be shipped as soon as the work is completed.

Moreover, greater data intelligence empowers companies to create new business models, such as selling services rather than products. And with better access to valuable insight, they can properly evaluate whether business changes would boost revenue or pose risk.

A three-step guide for creating an intelligent enterprise

For your company to become an intelligent enterprise, you need to embrace today’s most innovative technologies and kick-start your digital transformation journey.

Here’s how to begin:

  1. Think big and have a vision: Rather than fixating on today’s problems, it’s crucial that you consider what your business might look like in the future. You need to anticipate how changing customer demands, organic growth, and acquisitions could influence how you run your company in two years, five years, or even 10 years. And identifying the technologies that can help you solve your challenges and meet rising customer expectations is imperative to your organization’s future success.
  1. Start with a small project and execute: Pick a manageable project to improve with innovative technology. Make sure it’s something that can yield quick, definable returns. If it simplifies your employees’ lives, lowers production costs, and helps satisfy your customers, it’s a worthwhile Investment.
  1. Accelerate adoption and iterate: With your digital transformation pilot a success, you’ll have the support of your shop-floor workers and buy-in from key decision makers. And once you’ve earned the confidence of your colleagues, you need to quickly scale and expand the scope of your transformation to start impacting other areas of your business, empowering you to control costs, produce and deliver high-quality products faster than ever, and improve customer experiences.

These three steps will help you realize value and chart your course for unparalleled success in today’s digital world.

Accelerate your digital transformation journey

Implementing new technology is undoubtedly exciting. But innovation for innovation’s sake isn’t enough – it must solve business problems to have a tangible impact on your company.

And for your organization to achieve truly transformational change, you need to focus on more than just solving your current issues. You must be able to predict where your business is headed and understand how your company can leverage innovative technology to overcome its challenges and thrive in the future.

To learn more, register to download this MPI white paper . And keep an eye out for the next blog in our Digital Manufacturing series, “The Brilliance of Building Smart Products.” In it, you’ll discover how making your goods more intelligent can help you improve product performance and enhance customer experiences.

Mike Lackey

About Mike Lackey

Mike Lackey is VP of Solution Management at SAP.