It’s an exciting time to be in manufacturing. Sure, a turbulent economy means the road to prosperity might be a bit bumpy right now, but there’s a renaissance happening in the sector, and it’s being driven by technology. The way factories operate, their systems, even the way they look, that’s all changing. And so should you. And you know what? These days the road to prosperity isn’t actually a road at all. It’s an information highway. The future’s right on the doorstep, and it’s knocking. In its global perspective of industrial manufacturing trends in 2016, PwC’s global strategy consulting team, Strategy&, said that forward-thinking manufacturers are becoming much more data-driven. Information about initial concepts, installation, performance feedback – pretty much everything through the lifecycle – is being shared throughout organizations, with every employee and stakeholder. People are even working with robots. Factories are using data to improve interactions between people and robotic equipment, using automation to cut costs and tackle ergonomically challenging tasks with greater efficiency. The Internet of Things (IoT) is creating connected factories. The power of the cloud and Web are linking machines, sensors, computers, information platforms and people, enhancing information monitoring, collection, processing and analysis. This uber-connectivity enables more precision and lets businesses turn heaps of data into insights that improve operations, making them more intelligent with things as granular as how temperature, pressure, and humidity impact performance. Indeed, KPMG’s Canadian Manufacturing Outlook 2015 said using the Cloud to access innovative IT systems can make Canadian Manufacturers more nimble and responsive, provide them with a competitive advantage and give them the step up they need to achieve the growth they want. It won’t be long before factories even start using data and analytics to deliver better products, like how GE’s wind turbines use a bunch of sensors that produce a plethora of data points that then inform immediate, ongoing optimization of turbine performance, decisions about maintenance, and parts replacement. Yes, the future’s here. Welcome it. You might think though, that given the state of the Canadian economy, taking a chance on tech isn’t worth the risk. After all, 2015 was a tough year. The CBC reported that manufacturing sales fell for the first time since 2009, dropping 1.5 per cent to $609.5 billion. And while Financial Post recently reported that Statistics Canada projected a potentially rosier outlook for 2016, the economy’s not out of the woods yet, so you might think that the best strategy moving forward, if you’re going to make any money, is to play it safe. Well, the truth is that’s the wrong kind of thinking. Despite the economic risks, investing in technology really is the best way forward. Firstly, you can’t afford to ignore advances in technology because your competition certainly isn’t. And secondly, putting stock in technology will actually help you overcome the challenges being presented by a tumultuous Canadian economy. Spending money on a robot workforce might be a bit much, but investing in technology solutions like Intelligent Operations Solutions will win you business by helping you improve productivity, innovate, best the competition, and maintain a competitive advantage with customers who are looking to innovate too. Here’s some of the things that you’ll be able to do: Aggregate account histories, financial data and inventory Log event reports, weekly updates and make them accessible to everyone Track service and repairs Monitor fluctuations of market prices for products Compile complete product histories including problems, fixes and ownership Standardize operations across factory locations Automate invoicing Those are the kinds of capabilities your business needs with the Canadian economy the way it is and transformative change afoot. It’s about operating more intelligently in a world where manufacturing has gone beyond just simply manufacturing and selling products: Supply chains have gone global Customers have more options for where to get products and expect them to be high quality They demand for on-demand personalized omni-channel service Future requirements and changing market trends must be predicted Response times need to be faster, and new, cost-effective transportation modes identified Marketing campaigns need to be planned, executed and measured from start to finish By investing in Intelligent Operations Solutions, your manufacturing business can facilitate leaner operations and become a much more agile business. So, go ahead. Open that door. Got questions? Chat with one of our representatives today, or learn more about our Microsoft Dynamics Enterprise Resource Planning products here.