InfoBrief by IDC and Workday: European manufacturing companies facing economic uncertainty


Workday, a provider of enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources, and IDC, has issued an InfoBrief revealing that the future of the manufacturing industry in Europe will continue to be uncertain, volatile, and complex.

To thrive in such an environment, manufacturing organisations need to fundamentally transform their operations to become more resilient and agile.

At the same time organisations need to balance costs and security all while ensuring compliance with ESG regulations. Having the right skills and talent to address all these topics will be the foundation for a successful business transformation and for long-term, sustainable business growth. 

Concerns of manufacturing industry 

According to the InfoBrief, manufacturing organisations are facing the following business concerns in 2023: 

  • Persistent supply chain shortages and increased competition have increased the need for agile decision making and operations to build greater business resilience
  • Rising internal costs have reinforced the need for cost monitoring and cost control
  • Increasing cyberattacks pose a greater risk to manufacturers, and this can lead to factory shutdowns and significant costs to remedy security breaches
  • Changing customer and market demand requires a higher degree of flexibility in production and service 

Lack of Skills 

Skill gaps are impacting business transformation and operations. This is primarily due to a lack of digital-savvy workers on the shop floor, lack of embedded software engineering skills to develop smart and connected products, plus a lack of cybersecurity skills to protect from attacks.  

This is coupled with the need to quickly change requirements to operational skills - resulting in higher scrap rates in production, thus increasing costs. Increased production cycle times and quality issues are leading to decreasing customer satisfaction and subsequently limited business growth.  

To reduce or eliminate negative impacts of skill gaps and to avoid falling behind global competitors, manufacturers need to address workforce and talent management end to end: from talent attraction to employee enablement, experience, and retention. 

Close Collaboration Internally 

To ensure alignment with business requirements, close collaboration among CHROs, CIOs, and COOs is needed to get the right data and to generate actionable insights.

Prerequisites for successful skill and talent management include:  

  • Understanding the skills needed and identifying skill gaps
  • Understanding job/task requirements
  • Recruitment/allocation of the right skills to jobs/tasks
  • Provision of appropriate training programs
  • Understanding what factors impact employee experience 

CHROs, CIOs, and COOs will need to bridge data silos to execute on strategic imperatives. IDC research shows that for EMEA manufacturers the biggest skill gaps to deliver on are capabilities to work with large data sets/data science (43%) and capabilities related to problem solving/design thinking (41%). Additionally:

  • 36% of manufacturers are investing in ESG/ sustainability to attract new talent
  • 48% of manufacturers consider data privacy laws a major investment barrier to execute worker experience initiatives. 

Rufino Chiong, EMEA Head of Industries at Workday, comments: "To address persistent supply chain shortages, increased competition, rising costs, and evolving customer demands, manufacturers must undergo a fundamental transformation of their operations. Manufacturers need to invest in attracting new talent and the required skills, improving employee experience, and enhancing operational resilience through agile and flexible workforce management and planning. While these investments may require upfront costs, they lay the foundation for long-term business growth and successful transformation allowing them to better monitor and control costs in the future." 

What’s needed to succeed 

  • In order to succeed, manufacturers need to address the strategic imperatives of:
  • Attracting new talent and the required skills by creating attractive job profiles to build the foundation for long-term, business growth
  • Improving employee experience to enhance employee satisfaction and retention
  • Improving operational resilience through agile and flexible workforce management and planning 

This might require investments now to manage costs in the future but ultimately will build the foundation for business growth and ensure successful business transformation. Workday Adaptive Planning helps manufacturers plan, model, forecast, and adapt as the business landscape changes. 

Rufino Chiong, EMEA Head of Industries at Workday, is available for interviews and commentary on the digitalisation of the manufacturing industry in Europe and how manufacturing organisations can thrive in uncertain times. Contact us now to secure your interview slot. 

About the research 

Source: IDC Global Manufacturing Survey, January 2023; EMEA manufacturing organisations n = 431

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