New products, machines, and inventions hit the market every year, driving consumers to clamor over who can get them first. So how do companies keep coming up with excellent products that drive consumers wild to purchase, use and invest in? A strong company will start by clarifying its long-term vision and setting product goals. Once those are established, there is much more work to plan and complete.
There is no shortage of exciting innovation within industrial manufacturing as well. From advancements on the production floor to predictive machine maintenance to the use of AI in inventory systems, the future of manufacturing looks more efficient than ever before. Ideas are not only happening in the technology and software that support the manufacturing sector but inside the industry itself. Here are the types of innovative software that are helping manufacturers develop better products.
Facilitating Open and Constructive Communication
Industrial manufacturing companies are complex organizations. Companies are spread wide and far from the production floor to cross-functional collaborations to international supply chains. This widespread labor force can make keeping communication channels open a challenge. That's why many companies seek out solutions that make it easy to share ideas, feedback, and updates with all stakeholders.
Many powerful communication tool options serve companies of all sizes in various locations. These tools often have direct communication threads, group messaging options, video conferencing features, file-sharing options, automated shortcuts, and more. Whichever communication platform a company chooses, it's essential to ensure it's accessible to all the teams who need to use it.
Creating One Source of Truth for Teams
A frequent enemy of open communication is information silos. Dead-end tools that don't offer secure cloud sharing make it impossible for teams to access any project's latest information. When teams aren't on the same page, it makes every other decision more complicated than it needs to be. As a result, important data can end up sitting in isolated file folders in locations that are not accessible to those who need it—or worse, completely ignored.
Digital tools make it possible to connect the flow of information within a company. Choosing software that enables document sharing and updates collaborators in real time can benefit any department in an organization. The more information is shared, the less time a company wastes getting everyone up to speed during meetings or brainstorming sessions. Organizations that create one source of truth where teams can access the same accurate data will save time and make better product decisions.
Filling the True Gaps and Opportunities In the Product Portfolio
It's easy to develop new ideas to seemingly improve a product, but how can a manufacturer truly know which ideas are worthwhile pursuing? The more product lines a company has, the more challenging it can be to manage those product plans. Effective product roadmap management software will have features that simplify the task of comparing product line-ups to see how each model or offering compares to the rest of the portfolio.
Software that offers quick customizations and clear visuals makes it easier for product managers to find the gaps between their product offerings. This could be in terms of a missing feature that consumers are demanding or the opportunity to pursue a modification that would meet a currently underserved demand. But, again, clarity comes from knowing the products and analyzing the data.
Enabling More Effective Collaborations Between Teams
Ideas and suggestions for products are always abundant within product manufacturers, but that does not guarantee that all ideas are worth pursuing. Thomas Edison has been quoted as saying, "The value of an idea lies in the using of it." The flip side of this wisdom is that not all ideas are worth using. So how can industrial manufacturers manage the flood of ideas and suggestions to find the gems that lead to great value in product development? One powerful solution is to use innovative software.
Product roadmap management software is one type of innovative software that helps collaborative teams get greater clarity on their products and possibilities for improving them. Having all roadmaps in one location makes it easier for development teams to work together on new ideas, sifting the great ideas from the mediocre ones. Prioritization can only happen with clear data. With the right tools, manufacturers can gain that clarity easily and consistently.
Maintaining Cyber Security with Cloud Platforms
Increasing reliance on cloud platforms for nearly every manufacturing area means companies must be aware of the cyber security risks and how to mitigate them. Leading manufacturers will have cyber security teams or work with managed service providers to keep their networks safe from cyber attacks or intrusions. They'll also prioritize encrypting their data to protect both their consumer and partnership sensitive information and their company's proprietary information.
The IIoT (industrial internet of things) is enhancing manufacturing operations right from the production floor to the distribution side of things, making it possible to automate more than ever. These systems require protection and investment in security to ensure the process runs smoothly without cyber risks. Communication and product roadmap management software should also use a secure cloud server and be covered by network security measures. Many software providers offer cybersecurity measures to help manufacturers achieve these security goals.
The Future of Manufacturing Looks Clearer with a Multitude of Software Options
The manufacturing sector of today is unrecognizable compared to a hundred years ago. The prospects of how manufacturing will operate one hundred years from now promise to be just as advanced. Manufacturing companies that want to stay competitive will adopt software, AI, and automation for as many areas of their operations as possible. A combination of platforms for customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource management (ERM), product roadmap management software (PRM), and communication tools will help industrial manufacturers stay efficient, agile, and ready for the next leap in the industry.