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Paris Motor Show and European automotive reality

The 2012 Paris motor show just closed its doors – and, with more than 1.2 million visitors, was once again the world’s largest automotive gathering. More than 100 new car models were released – from mainstream bread-and-butter vehicles such as Renault’s new “Clio” or VW’s 7th generation “Golf” to high-end sports cars as Jaguar’s “F-Type” or McLaren’s “P1”. BMW presented its first ever van – featured as “Active Sports Tourer” – with front-wheel drive and 3-cylinder hybrid engine. Porsche unveiled a new version of its “Panamera” – essentially a station wagon, which Porsche marketing dubs “SportTurismo”. There were small SUV’s, large SUV’s, cross-overs, parallel hybrids, plug-in hybrids, all-electric vehicles, light-weight innovations and myriads of new electronics-based offerings such as lane-departure warning systems, in-car wifi hotspots, cloud-infotainment solutions.

So the auto industry seems to be truly on fire, its innovation engine hitting on all cylinders. Yet economic reality looks very different.

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Can Manufacturers Stop the BYOD Trend or Should They Even Try?

I just finished reading Chuck Robbins’ blog on the BYOD trend and its impact on corporate culture. In the blog Chuck cites a recent study on how most executives are still uneasy about their companies’ mobile data-access policies… and it got me thinking about how manufacturers are dealing with this trend.

More and more manufacturing workers are adopting mobile technologies into their workspace, and are growing accustomed to interacting and working in a more visual, virtual, social, and mobile way.  In fact a survey conducted by Manufacturing Executive this year noted that 63% of manufacturing companies permit their employees to bring their own devices (BYOD) to work, but only  17% of manufacturing enterprises have a formal BYOD strategy with clear goals and objectives.  Manufacturers are struggling with how to create, deploy and enforce sound enterprise wide security polices around BYOD.   Protecting intellectual property is only half the concern.  Manufacturers must also consider how a breach in security will effect the safety of their workers and environment, as well as, their products.

Although security is a top of mind concern for manufacturers, the promise of deploying a sound BYOD policy can not be discounted.   Empowering employees and partners with the freedom to collaborate and access video, data and voice on an open, mobile and personal platform can produce a culture that drives operational excellence, supply chain agility, and innovation throughout the entire manufacturing value chain from the plant floor up through to R&D centers.

For example if there is a problem on the manufacturing line, an employee with access to the company directory on their personal mobile device can locate and contact a supervisor or expert using Cisco Jabber and then launch with a single click mobile Cisco WebEx mobile,  where they can show the problem using the video camera on the device and quickly collaborate to solve the problem.

Supply chains can now become more agile and flexible, because customers and the enterprise can analyze, monitor and track progress from order through successful delivery in real-time.  Data is now not just captured, stored, analyzed and delivered, but is now acted upon, presented and shared with the appropriate people and systems in real-time.

In addition, a May 2012 Cisco Connected World Technology Report found that two of five survey respondents said they would accept a lower-paying job that offered more flexibility for device choice, social media access, and mobility than a higher-paying job with less flexibility.  Crucial for an industry looking to retain and attract a qualified workforce.

Can manufactures continue to avoid the new BYOD paradigm, or are they just delaying the inevitable? Let me know your thoughts.

 

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Manufacturing Recovery? Who says?…

October 4, 2012 at 8:30 am PST

…well, it looks like several folks are saying it!

American Factories were going all out in September -- is it a sign that the US economy is picking up?  Wall street certainly seemed to respond well to some key indicators at the beginning of October.

Take a look at some of the performance metrics below and you’ll get an indication of why…

  • The ISM (Institute for Supply Management) Index (PMI™)  rose to 51.5 for September from 49.6 in August. Anything above 50 shows growth (growing rather than contracting), and a nearly two point rise reverses previous months declines, the fastest pace since May.
  • Pace is slow, but signs are hopeful. The new orders index rose from 47.1 to 52.3 suggesting humming production this month, and suggests November will be good too.

However…

  • The economy isn’t growing as fast as the Fed Chairman would like. Hence an open-ended QE3 (Quantitive Easing 3) and a statement that interest rates will remain low until 2015.
  • JP Morgan Economists are saying that we’ve seen a slow down in US Manufacturing and it’s tracking more like the overall US economic growth -- sluggish, suggesting the best may be behind us. Still growing though, but slowly.

Overall I’m a bull on US manufacturing. There are a number of US companies looking to bring back jobs from overseas. But the labor shortage in the US is getting worse. Baby Boomers retiring, not enough skilled or trained workers to take their place. A recent Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute study stated that manufacturing sector can’t find workers with the right skills to fill around 600,000 jobs. Hopefully Cisco’s Remote Expert and Cisco’s other solutions will help. Check out Ron Kafka’s blog titled “Realize Business-Wide Benefits with Cisco’s Remote Expert” to find more about Remote Expert. Read More »

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Cisco, Customers and Partner Speak of Possibilities at ITxpo

October 2, 2012 at 3:32 pm PST

We all know something about the evolution of agriculture.  Once upon a time, a horse pulled a plow, led by a man who spent days upon days in the fields.  And small, local rivers were dammed to redirect water to crops.  Today, monster machines plow acres in minutes.  And irrigation systems feed farms that are hundreds of miles away. 

The long-term evolution of productivity and efficiency was dramatic.  But what does the near-term evolution of business processes look like?

I hope you can join Cisco at Gartner’s Symposium/ITxpo.  You’ll get near-term business evolution insights from folks like Barry Libenson, CIO of Land O’ Lakes, Inc., and Ron Gilson, CIO of Johnsonville Sausage, Inc.  They’ll join Marie Hattar, Cisco’s Vice President of Enterprise Segment Marketing and Bhavani Amirthalingam, World Wide Technology Inc.’s Vice President of Information Technology on Monday, October 22nd at 3:30 pm to discuss the topic, “Work Your Way: A Mobility Strategy for Business Success”.

Cisco’s Unified Workspace makes “Work Your Way” possible

Just a short decade ago manufacturers communicated by phone, by email and by foot. Many business conversations occurred in the same geographic location. Product management, operations meetings and training often occurred on the same campus. A company’s culture and reputation was defined by things like face-to-face meetings, hallway conversations, employee recognition and the attention provided to customers.

Today, employees, supply chains and processes are widely dispersed.  Meanwhile, skilled workers are retiring and they’re harder to replace.  What evolutionary solutions are manufacturers choosing in order to bring remote and shrinking resources together?   Read More »

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Welcome Michael Schwarz, IBSG, to the Manufacturing Industry Blog

September 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm PST

Please Welcome Michael Schwarz to the Manufacturing Industry Blog

It is with great pleasure I introduce Michael Schwarz as our latest Manufacturing Industry Thought Leader. Michael has a distinguished career at Cisco and is currently director of automotive EMEA within the global manufacturing practice of the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG).

In this role, Michael consults with senior executives from the auto industry looking to capitalize on the transformative power of the Internet for faster innovation, superior customer experience, and new business models.

Michael brings more than 15 years of top management consulting experience and solid industry knowledge to the organization. Before joining Cisco, he was a senior principal with Booz Allen Hamilton based in Munich and Chicago. There, he worked for clients in the automotive, aerospace, industrial goods, and financial services industries. Prior to Booz Allen Hamilton, he worked at Siemens Nixdorf and ZF Friedrichshafen. Read More »

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