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Even as global macro trends continue to challenge ways of doing business, enterprises aren’t fully leveraging data to optimize their production processes. A new survey from NI (National Instruments) reveals that as many as 47% of companies operate on a limited data strategy – where they use product data from only a handful of functional areas.

According to the survey, which involved 300 product innovators from across industries, most of these organizations don’t leverage manufacturing and engineering data and fail to deliver business results as impactful as those with an advanced company-wide product data strategy. In the last 12 months, only 33% of the lot saw faster time-to-market as against 52% of advanced companies. The levels of innovation (51% vs. 63%), employee productivity (50% vs. 62%), and manufacturing efficiency (41% vs. 58%) were also lower.

Limited vs advanced data strategy

The stats are important as they show how effective unlocking data from the entire product lifecycle – design, validation, production and in-use – can be for refining processes and delivering groundbreaking products. This is the need of the hour in the current market landscape, where organizations have to keep delivering advanced products at speed and scale in order to stay competitive.

Gaps in advanced strategy 

While companies with advanced product strategies have been producing better outcomes, even they aren’t leveraging product data to its full potential. The NI survey found that only 29% of companies with advanced data strategies were using manufacturing data to improve production processes and 24% were combining the full extent of their engineering, manufacturing, and in-use data to gain advanced insights. Many also signaled the inability to gain insights via data analytics and underutilization of test data to inform product design.

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“We know that, in many industries, there is a natural lag between design and test phases, which can cause production bottlenecks. But overlooking test data could cause you to miss out on an opportunity to streamline your processes. In today’s competitive market, this could be the difference between success and failure,” the survey report reads.

Organizations playing catch-up

Realizing these gaps, organizations are now playing catch-up to address their data shortfalls and transform the product lifecycle. 

Over the past 12 months, 70% of the organizations with limited data strategies have invested in product data and analytics as a priority. Meanwhile, the advanced players, who already have the foundations in place, are now looking to prioritize cutting-edge technologies such as machine learning, digital twins and robotic process automation (RPA). 

“Effective maturation in product data strategy involves planning the sequence of steps that best address specific issues. Start by identifying the challenges that need solutions today, then tools needed for those solutions can be acquired. From there, form the data strategy to support those tools,” NI fellow Mike Santori told VentureBeat.

“For many enterprises, product-centric data will be a key part of the data strategy, providing the granularity needed for required analytics. That plan should be centralized and standardized within the enterprise so that all efforts build together to create a connected (advanced) data strategy across the entire company,” he added.

In the survey, 65% of the respondents emphasized that a data strategy is essential to optimizing the product lifecycle. Meanwhile, 46% said they will lose market share within two years if outdated product lifecycle processes are not optimized.

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