Research finds manufacturing industry hindered by a lack of data skills, but businesses are working hard to address this

New research from analytic database firm Exasol has found that without data analytics 75 per cent of manufacturing business leaders operational decision-making would either be completely or significantly disrupted. 

The research also found that 32 per cent of manufacturing business leaders rely on data for AI and automation initiatives significantly more than they did 5 years ago. Manufacturing business leaders said 50 per cent of their organisation’s decision-making is guided by data, including: 

  • Sales forecasts – 70 per cent
  • Financial planning – 52 per cent
  • Pricing – 41 per cent

Worryingly, the research also found that 1 in 5 manufacturing business leaders state that data driven initiatives are failing due to a lack of skills. The skills crisis is evident across all industries, but manufacturing is leading the way in correcting this issue. Manufacturers are committing to training programmes with 80 per cent committing to external training and 96 per cent providing internal training on data skills.

Mathias Golombek, CTO, Exasol commented: “Manufacturing is a major driver for UK innovation and exports, accounting for 72 per cent of business R&D and over 50 per cent of UK export earnings according to recent figures from Make UK. This is significant to the UK economy and to sure up its future and continued success, manufacturers need to ensure they have the right technology for efficiencies, competitiveness and profits; this means ensuring data-driven initiatives and automation are a success. 

“From adjusting inventory levels based on seasonality, through to long-term strategic plans, such as the ideal location of a new facility, data analytics is critical to manufacturing. In the past, this was more about humans looking at reports and making manual decisions, but now it’s turning into optimised and automated systems. Manufacturers that use data analytics to optimise their businesses will be ahead of their competition. Data analytics will help them reduce failure rates, optimize production chains, and turn their organizations into data-driven businesses.

“To do this, manufacturers need the right skills. While it is concerning that 1 in 5 manufacturing business leaders in the UK state that lack of skills has led to failure of data initiatives, it is encouraging to see that they are addressing the issue with internal and external training, especially in light of recent reports that there is a drop in students studying computer science in secondary schools. Manufacturing employers need to ensure they are provisioning for the future of work and upskilling their employees to tackle future competitive challenges.”

Exasol’s research was conducted by survey house Vanson Bourne on 500 IT and business decision makers, from enterprises in Germany and the UK.

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