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Manufacturing BI Solutions

Communications and computing are central to most products and processes. Tools are also being used to guide thought and decisions. The business intelligence solutions extend the scale and speed at which thought and information can be applied to strategic objectives and operational processes.

Data, information, and knowledge management capabilities enable new business opportunities through enabling and linking more complex manufacturing processes. Manufacturing operations use as much information as they do raw materials and create at least as much knowledge as they do products.

Business intelligence is being used in manufacturing to:


BI Driving Value Streams

Business intelligence tools amplify brain power in the way that technologies of the Industrial Revolution amplified muscle power. As BI integration and data exchange becomes easier, production is reorganizing into logically driven value streams. Such tools have also altered the significance of manufacturing in strategic choices.

BI tools affect the core process of creating and sustaining value. They support laser market segmentation and alignment of distinct product functions to each segment.
Data warehouse analytic tools segment the market into submarkets, each with distinct needs and wants down the individual level.


BI Driving Custom Manufacturing

Creating customized products for each consumer demands collecting a wide base of information about each individual, often triggering privacy concerns. However, the ability to produce functionally distinct products for each customer does not only apply to manufacturer controlled options, but also to features sets that can be configured by each customer.

BI analysis provides groups of ideal product feature sets – driving product innovation as well as marketing effectiveness. Often the positioning of the product feature set has an overall quality impact on the product. Customers are often accepting of reduced functionality and/or lower quality in return for a lower price. This distinguishes the product in a range of other feature/functionality/quality combinations. Business intellilgence helps manufacturers determine the elasticity of each product feature and pricing point – extending its products across a more diverse market.

This capability and the resulting products depend on proprietary manufacturing skills. The combination of market segmentation and intelligence driven functionality is transforming production into a commodity. This in turn creates new problems. When market advantages rest on proprietary product and market knowledge, protecting that knowledge or intellectual property is a central issue.


BI Driving Component Based Manufacturing

Digital information systems store explicit product and process knowledge in easily replicable forms – allowing component parts to be reassembled in any number of compatible combinations. Old models relied on formal knowledge based upon the intuitive know-how of individuals within the organisation. This evolution has fostered stronger intellectual property as a core strategic asset. This applies equally to services as it does physical products.

Digital Products Replacing Services

Business intelligence and digital production have together expanded the format of a single product or service into a multi-product line. For instance, accounting services are largely being replaced by accounting programs, and accounting tutorials which can be online, printed or ebooks, or published to CDs. In this instance, digital manufacturing has transformed a physical service into digital products.

The Digital Manufacturing Continuum

The value proposition of manufacturing production can be categorized as either a strategic asset or a commodity that can be purchased in the marketplace. Different industries and products will fall within the continuum between these two extremes. For the sake of simplicity we can categorize three main groups along this spectrum, based on the sector’s relation to digital tools and to production:

  • Products which can instantly be fully digitalized and sold entirely in online marketplaces.
  • Products that remain physical and are best evaluated in person – such as textiles and larege machinery
  • Products that fall in between where information technology has both added value and created distinct controls, yet the underlying functionality is physical and not digital.

Digital Production

Producing a digital product involves three steps:

  1. Creation of the underlying entertainment content or financial instrument
  2. The digital construction, programming or development of the digital or software
  3. The vehicle for delivering the product for the market

The digital product may be totally autonomous or served from a central system and delivered on a network of digital equipment. The core product is the information or capability, the hardware is essentially just an instrument to access the material.

Hardware adds an additional layer to production, and knowledge as to what hardware is required in an additional element of knowledge, and the loading of the content to the server is an additional skill requirement. Both of these additional items can be outsourced, meaning that IP can be secured around the core content product.

Digital product manufacturing also has its own value add supply chain. The evolution of digital products has merged collaboration and digital production to foster open source software - where innovation is distributed amongst the developer community, layered upon a foundation program source code provided free of charge by the primary vendor.


BI Driven Business Models

BI tools can fundamentally alter underlying business models on which firms operate, such as when:

  • Market knowledge and new communication tools transform a product business into a service business.
  • Thought capturing and extending tools merge with data communication and data processing technologies.

This results in the ability to manipulate, organize, transmit, and store information in digital form.

As a firms BI capability matures the firms strategies become more focused on capturing value and market position from data assets. Production becomes a strategic asset which is sufficiently agile to change rapidly to adapt to manufacturing new products and services to meet new market needs and wants.

BI is supporting the increasingly complex and ever-expanding manufacturing sector that must establish a concise path to follow to remain competitive, whilst meeting different needs different stakeholders. This requires logical decision making and highly predictive market insight.


BI Reducing Manufacturing Timelines

A key stream of manufacturing technology is focused on reducing time-to-money cycles, continually seeking new solutions to driving more efficiency into the manufacturing process, thereby reducing time.

Manufacturing, as a process, has a direct flow beginning to end, with the product increasing complexity as the process moves through its cycle. This process is irreversible, time flowing in one direction only. Time is relative to different parts and people involved in manufacturing.

Data and information knowledge control the ability to expand complexity and processes in manufacturing. Interdependency and interaction between knowledge objects is increasing with interdependencies, having an increasing impact on manufacturers and customers in terms of both cost and quality.

As manufacturing processes evolve along with data and information knowledge, insight and wisdom also evolve. Numbers become increasingly meaningful, being transformed into control, action and decision platforms.

Manufacturers must continue to develop systems to store and analyse massive volumes of data and relate this data to its design, development and production proceses.

Next: Manufacturing BI Solution Vendors

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