Industrial B2B companies need to join the Data Race

data & analytics

I’ve noticed that Finnish companies, especially in the industrial sector, have only scratched the surface in utilizing the huge amount of data and information gathered from their manufacturing and service processes. The problem in most companies is that the potential of the masses of data is diluted to a small stream instead of a gushing waterfall – from both the business and Data & Analytics perspectives.

Digitalization, Data & Analytics, Big Data, leadership and management by information – whatever we choose to call it – is an inevitable evolution. It’s highly likely that you are dealing with competitors who have already passed you – or who are about to pass you with the boost that comes from harnessing information in a way your company has not.

From data underutilization to process optimization

Especially in traditional settings such as manufacturing – unit, batch or process – there is much to gain in taking the next step to utilize data better than your competitors. Chances are you are already gathering enough data – there just hasn’t been a good way to clean it, combine it and analyze it. With current technology and the right people, making your data truly work for your benefit may require smaller investments than you think.

Of course, much time and effort has been invested to create a basis for data utilization, but in my view these investments have increased the amount of information available, rather than improving how it can be used for business benefit. Especially in manufacturing, where data is already abundant, there is still untapped potential to increase throughput, optimize process bottlenecks, increase product mix profitability or reduce machinery and process downtime – among countless other uses.

Harness previously unavailable computing power

We’ve used an analytical, data-driven approach for decades. But as good as engineers are in creating analyses from different data sources, the human mind’s capacities are simply far too limited to fully understand the underlying causalities, relations and consequences in big data sets. However, currently available algorithms and analysis methodologies can process vast amounts of information from dozens of sources to highlight the concrete sources of business benefits, helping businesses to achieve growth and control costs.

Take action now!

The importance of Data & Analytics will continue to grow, but instead of joining the Information Race just for the sake of sounding “forward-thinking”, the business objectives must always be clear in mind. Check whether you or your company have done the basics:

  1. Consider and clarify your business objectives.
  2. Understand what data is available, what data is currently utilized, and where the gaps are.
  3. Create an agile plan to systematically grow your analytics capabilities, in-house or outsourced.
  4. Start pilots in specific processes to find the right approach and increase your efforts in a controlled manner.
  5. Implement changes that will arise as you understand your business better.
  6. Return to step 1.

Remember, don’t wait too long to accept the inevitable. Your competitors are already in the race, and so should you be.

Ville Huovinen is a Manager at KPMG Global Strategy Group. He has worked as a Strategy and Operations Advisor with Finnish and multinational companies for close to 10 years in various development programmes, including improving supply chain performance, designing and implementing management & performance systems, as well as building and running Program Management Offices. Outside office hours Ville enjoys cooking, cycling and travelling.