As Industry 4.0 ramps up, things like cloud computing, cognitive computing, and IoT are beginning to take center stage in the manufacturing landscape. Yet while many are looking to the future for their answers, manufacturers are still experiencing gaps. Problems such as supply chain complexity, geographically disperse teams, and faster time to market limit true advancement in the marketplace, raising questions from executives on why the company’s collaboration investments aren’t solving those issues that the technology is meant to solve in the first place.

The truth is, technology isn’t perfect. Collaboration implementations are difficult and many times, the end result is far different than what manufacturers had envisioned. To be fair, humans aren’t perfect either. Many IT divisions take on the implementation themselves and because of the myriad complications, they’re constantly calling Technical Support and feeling like they’re getting nowhere. Meanwhile, project delays, extra costs, and their own day-to-day activities seem to just pile up. We know how frustrating this can be and after 15 years of working with the same technology, we’ve felt the same pain ourselves. The good news, however, is our expertise has allowed our manufacturing customers to accelerate their collaboration success and unlock the 4 main pitfalls that limit proper preparation for Industry 4.0 (Figure 1).

Let’s look at a couple examples of how we’ve helped a couple of our customers overcome their issues:

One global pharmaceutical manufacturer was working on a complex drug and needed to accelerate its time to market. It also needed to empower its workforce to be mobile, attract and retain Millennial talent, and collaborate externally with partners and providers. As the organization began to roll out its new Unified Communications (UC) platform and video conferencing capabilities, employees unfortunately found the new technology both confusing and difficult to use. So, the company turned to Cisco’s Collaboration Adoption Services to amplify its workforce training so that everyone could learn and use the collaboration technology without hassle. Virtual and onsite instructor-led trainings, along with UC roadshows, learning videos, and day-in-the-life videos helped employees grasp basic concepts and led to an improvement in estimated time to market for its new drug, reduction in travel costs, and productivity enhancements, especially among its younger workforce.

Another medical device manufacturer needed to increase its machine and field service efficiency and decrease its service costs. It had originally installed a remote machine along with WebEx Teams with every desktop operator, enabling ticket creation for Service requests and consultations. However, employees found the new technologies frustratingly complex, so the company reached out to Cisco’s Custom Application Development & Integration (CADI) team to develop a “Remote Expert” to assist the desktop operator. This Remote Expert helped to:

  • Create a single pane of glass for all incident requests
  • Aggregate all meetings, recordings, files, participants, chats, and ticket descriptions in one place
  • Automatically assign users to a type of ticket based on expertise and location

In the end, the manufacturer was able to increase service revenue growth by 20-30%, increase the number of machines covered by engineers by 10-20%, and decrease “mean time to repair” (MTTR) up to 75% while collecting more data for predictive service improvements in the future.

Our team can help you develop the right strategy, as well as implement, and optimize your collaboration solutions so you can improve your NPI process, supply chain agility, innovation, and talent management. Getting your collaboration technology to work right means you can prepare for Industry 4.0 without looking over your shoulder and worrying about what might slow you down.

Check out our website or contact your Cisco Advisor today to learn more about how Cisco’s Collaboration Services for Manufacturing can help you deliver the solution you originally envisioned.


Srinivasan Raghavan

Director of Product Management