The old rules don’t apply. Its not enough to focus on economies of scale and efficiency. Today the focus in the manufacturing industry is on achieving top line growth from customer engagement, and new levels of agility and productivity from the convergence of digital information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT). Manufacturers are challenging their existing business models and redesigning operational and business processes by infusing digital into all parts of their operations. The future of manufacturing includes remote monitoring, predictive maintenance and virtual repair capabilities, for highly customized products delivered faster, and by systems that are easy for a changing workforce to learn and use. Customer journey transformed. Today's consumers interact with brands across a wide range of touchpoints throughout their shopping experiences. They use social media to read reviews, and smartphones to conduct research. With their own consumer experiences - exacerbated by a skills gap in their own manufacturing and supply chain - even industrial manufacturing customers are demanding immediate, personalized service. By focusing on delivering great customer experiences that they will want to share, manufacturers can create sustainable relationships. But that means that everyone in an organization—from sales representatives to engineers to delivery drivers—need to put the customer first in every decision. Building teams around the customer journey means breaking down the walls of the traditional workplace and helping employees to do their best work with connected technologies. Intelligent engagement. Digital manufacturing technologies, including Industry 4.0 (also called Smart Manufacturing or the Industrial Internet of Things), robotics, additive manufacturing (sometimes known as 3D Printing) and smart connected products, are creating opportunities for manufacturers to take a leap forward in margins and differentiation through rapid prototyping, agile manufacturing, and servitization of product-centric business models. Manufacturers can market with new insights gained listening to smart connected products and social sentiment, blended with data from customer touch points across all marketing, sales and service channels. Engineering and marketing can reduce risk and rapidly validate new product ideas with 3D models and 3D printed prototypes. The new era manufacturer can be confident they are delivering a marketable product, and that they can fulfill demand using intelligent automation and digital manufacturing. Growth at the new speed of business. It’s called a revolution for a reason. Investment in Industry 4.0, with new smarter connected products, and new service-oriented business models can be challenging, especially if manufacturers are also constrained by their business software. Characterized by excessive infrastructure requirements, complexity, and cost or time to change, legacy systems were designed for a bygone era of simpler, more predictable manufacturing. Manufacturers now need the ability to develop, test, deploy and grow (or close) new business models in weeks rather than years. With Microsoft Dynamics AX, Lifecycle Services, and Azure, we give manufacturers the ability to leverage the power of the cloud to overcome the traditional challenges of enterprise software and focus on the opportunities presented by Industry 4.0. The technologies easily integrate with legacy systems and data, so companies can continue to benefit from their existing investments and remove any barriers to growth. Colin Masson Learn more Find out more about Dynamics AX and take a guided tour, or you can contact us to learn more.