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EMEA Manufacturers Eye Digitization Plans as COVID-19 Disrupts Supply Chains, Impacts Customer Needs

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ISG survey finds automotive and manufacturing companies forging ahead with digital transformation plans to be prepared for future shocks and changing customer expectations

FRANKFURT, Germany, Dec. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Most manufacturers in the EMEA region have seen their business processes significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and are still focused on managing the supply chain disruptions it has caused, according to a new survey from Information Services Group (ISG) (Nasdaq: III), a leading global technology research and advisory firm.

Hygiene guidelines, lockdowns, border closures and remote-work requirements imposed during the crisis have had a major impact on business processes for nearly 90 percent of the manufacturers surveyed by ISG this fall. In addition, nearly all respondents expect consumer needs to change permanently as a result of the pandemic. These changes come as the global auto industry simultaneously grapples with historic transitions to electric drivetrains and new use concepts.

However, while COVID-19 has made the need for digital transformation more urgent for these companies, they are having varying degrees of success, and many are not sure how to proceed, the survey finds.

“In many places, there is considerable caution about how much to adjust business capabilities to more safely manage the impact of the pandemic,” says ISG Partner Christian Decker, leader of the firm’s EMEA Smart Manufacturing practice. “Only a minority of respondents to our survey have decided to try a new approach.”

The study offers manufacturers three recommendations: Develop a holistic understanding of the customer, institute cross-functional collaboration among business and IT teams and transform traditional supplier relationships into partnerships.

Virtually all manufacturers in EMEA have begun the digitization of supply chains, customer engagement and other aspects of the manufacturing business, but the changes wrought by the pandemic have heightened the need and opportunity for change, ISG reports. The crisis has exposed how vulnerable manufacturers and automakers are to global shocks, which have imposed large-scale limitations on their businesses.

Engineering, procurement, manufacturing, assembly, shipping and other processes have been disrupted by limitations imposed by the pandemic, including the need to reduce physical interactions among workers in all settings. Digitization could help manufacturers face these challenges through breakthroughs such as augmented reality headsets for performing repairs remotely and predictive maintenance to reduce downtime and the need for in-person service calls.

For 68 percent of respondents, managing supply chain disruptions will be a key priority over the next 18 months. However, many do not yet know how they will adapt their ecosystems in response to the crisis, whether through mergers and acquisitions, industry consortia or a return to internal sourcing.

In fact, most of the companies do not see a strong need to adapt their digital transformation roadmaps, the survey finds. However, the pandemic has raised cost efficiency to a higher priority among the respondents.

In addition, nearly nine out of ten manufacturers in the study see customers demanding more digital engagement with them, especially additional opportunities to design the products they ask for. Two-thirds also see their customers seeking more choice in how to communicate with them, the study says.

Nearly half of the companies (45 percent) say they are well-prepared or very well-prepared to meet emerging customer needs. Yet 39 percent say internal resistance and slow change processes are holding them back from this goal.

“Now, more than ever, enterprises need to understand the customers’ changing needs and be able to respond to them quickly,” Decker says. “Achieving the necessary level of customer orientation requires cross-functional collaboration between all areas of the value chain, which calls for a new operating model.”

DXC Technology, T-Systems and Wipro supported ISG in conducting the study, “Pulse Check: Smart Manufacturing – Autumn 2020,” which surveyed 40 top leaders in EMEA manufacturing and automotive companies this fall. To download a copy of the study, visit this webpage.

About ISG

ISG (Information Services Group) (Nasdaq: III) is a leading global technology research and advisory firm. A trusted business partner to more than 700 clients, including more than 75 of the world’s top 100 enterprises, ISG is committed to helping corporations, public sector organizations, and service and technology providers achieve operational excellence and faster growth. The firm specializes in digital transformation services, including automation, cloud and data analytics; sourcing advisory; managed governance and risk services; network carrier services; strategy and operations design; change management; market intelligence and technology research and analysis. Founded in 2006, and based in Stamford, Conn., ISG employs more than 1,300 digital-ready professionals operating in more than 20 countries—a global team known for its innovative thinking, market influence, deep industry and technology expertise, and world-class research and analytical capabilities based on the industry’s most comprehensive marketplace data. For more information, visit www.isg-one.com.

Press contacts:

Philipp Jaensch, ISG
+49 151 730 365 76
philipp.jaensch@isg-one.com

Matthias Longo, Palmer Hargreaves for ISG
+49 152 341 464 63
mlongo@palmerhargreaves.com


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