You know when you’re casually leafing through a newspaper from the 1960’s and you come across an ad demonstrating how a machine can replace manual workers? Well that’s the position I found myself in, and it reminded me how advances in manufacturing still lead the way when it comes to productivity. So far.
Manufacturing Productivity 1, Service Industries 0
Ok, I’ve fudged the title a bit because I like it sounding like a football score but…if you have a look at this ONS study on the changing shape of UK manufacturing, you’ll see that since 1983 productivity in the manufacturing industry has outperformed Service industries and the economy as a whole.
The manufacturers got Lean thanks to Toyota, then they got Agile, and some even got ‘Leagile’ because they liked them both so much. Production lines welcomed robots, processes got automated and employees became multi-skilled. These manufacturers truly transformed the way in which they did business (and in the case of car manufacturers addressed the consumer fear of buying a car that was made on a Friday afternoon).
Why isn’t everyone else doing it?
Manufacturing may be viewed as an ‘old’ industry but it’s still ahead in its commitment to deploying technology to achieve productivity. We’ve got all this innovation which has resulted in great gains in mobility and the opportunity to collaborate, but productivity in service industries isn’t increasing at anywhere near the latent opportunity that exists, because:
We need to look at ‘work’ in a different way
To achieve anywhere near the gains that could be realised, we need to view work in the same way that a manufacturer looks at their production line: identifying the repetitive, high-volume, labour-intensive tasks and assessing what can be automated; and what needs to be kept in the hands of highly skilled employees.
We’re already helping businesses to do this: read here how Computacenter looked at work in a different way with our Virtual Workforce® – as a result they’ve automated 89% of addressable activities, and increased online interaction rates from 9% to 61%. Manufacturing is still leading the productivity charge, but with results like that, it might not be for long.
There’s amazing opportunity out there, we have the right technology to help you grab it. To find out what productivity gains you could achieve from looking at work in a different way, get in touch.
Written by Dean Chapman – Commercial Director, Thoughtonomy.