Why Isn’t Big Data Shaking Up Manufacturing?

Analyst Nick Heudecker says that only 50% of firms say they want to use big data… and only 15% actually do.  If you’d like some slightly harder data,  a recent PwC survey found that just 30 percent of U.S.-based industrial manufacturing senior executives said that their companies were planning to increase spending on information technology in the subsequent 12 months.

So there are those who don’t put their money where their mouths are when it comes to using data in manufacturing… but even more who don’t even have their mouths in the game.

Risk aversion is one possible explanation. U.S. manufacturing is growing — it has been showing growth for eight quarters — but that growth is slowing and the future seems uncertain. For the tech-savvy, this seems like a situation in which manufacturers would naturally want the insights into their process that big data offers.

But many companies have no clear plans for what they’d do with the data they collected. In many cases, they would need to invest in new workers and training as well as new software.

Security continues to be an issue, as well. Not all manufacturers are comfortable with sharing data about performance and defect tracking with their own workers, let alone connecting machines or allowing data storage in the cloud.

Sharing data along the supply chain is increasingly required for compliance reasons, but manufacturers who are being forced to share safety data with their downstream partners aren’t always happy about it. These current experiences of data sharing may cause some manufacturers to hesitate when it comes to automatic data sharing.

After all, they may not know what the data is yet.

So it’s not really a no-brainer.

It’s probably inevitable, though. Companies that resist may find themselves left behind.

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