IT in manufacturing insufficiently prepared to support long-term hybrid work

Riverbed | Aternity reveals that 51% business decision makers (BDMs) in the manufacturing industry believe that 50% of their workforce will remain hybrid post-pandemic. Additionally, the vast majority of manufacturing BDMs (96%) believe a hybrid structure would help them recruit talent and remain competitive.

manufacturing industry hybrid workforce

These are two key findings from a survey which explores the state of hybrid working and identifies the focal investment areas and technologies required to build long-term, high-performing workplaces.

Offering a seamless hybrid-working environment is not a nice to have anymore, but a business priority as the Manufacturing sector looks to recover from COVID-19. However, only 33% of manufacturing IT decision makers (ITDMs) say their current IT estate is completely prepared to support the demands of long-term hybrid work. This has left 85% of manufacturing BDMs worried about a disparity in network and application performance for hybrid or remote employees versus in-office employees. To address this, 92% of ITDMs and 88% of BDMs in the manufacturing industry say they plan to invest in technology to support a hybrid workforce during the next 12-18 months.

Commenting on the report findings, Jonaki Egenolf, CMO, at Riverbed | Aternity, said: “During the last two years, the pandemic has had a significant impact on the manufacturing sector across the globe, as businesses have had to shift much of their operations to a remote and hybrid working model. At the same time, these changes in the industry have presented an opportunity for manufacturers to take a significant leap forward in their digital transformation journey.

She continued, “Manufacturers have not only adopted new technologies that will give them a competitive advantage, but increasingly are leveraging visibility and observability solutions to deliver actionable insights that drive business performance and an exceptional digital experience. As a result, manufacturers will create an environment that will be productive, collaborative and attract the talent that will set their business apart now and into the future.”

Manufacturing industry is adopting a hybrid model

The report revealed that creating sustainable and high-performing hybrid workplaces are critical for business success, and reliant on organizations addressing both human- and technology-related barriers. According to manufacturing ITDMs, the top five barriers to adopting a sustainable hybrid work model are:

  • Expanded security risks (35%)
  • Lacking the right technology and equipment in the office (30%)
  • Technology disruptions (28%)
  • Lacking the right technology in the home set ups (25%)
  • Poor home/remote network performance (24%)

Manufacturing BDMs agree that collaboration and virtual relationship building (31%) is also one of their biggest barriers to adopting hybrid working across their organization. However, 35% cite poor home/remote network performance as the main reason.

Furthermore, BDMs believe that if we don’t act now, manufacturers will begin to fall behind other sectors. Issues such as Wi-Fi not working properly (46%), the inability for employees to connect to corporate networks (41%) and increased network traffic/bandwidth consumption and unreliable application performance (31%), will all have a huge impact on the ability to provide hybrid working over the next 12-18 months.

To identify and troubleshoot these issues, manufacturers need greater visibility and actionable insights. ITDMs identify the top five challenges with current visibility/monitoring solutions as:

  • Too much data and not enough context or actionable insight (39%)
  • Lack of unified visibility across the entire technology infrastructure (36%)
  • Multiple tools that give conflicting data, delaying root cause analysis and issue resolution (34%)
  • Lack of visibility into the availability, performance and usage of cloud resources (34%)
  • Data is not accessible or usable by all who need it (30%)

Investing in the future of manufacturing

92% of manufacturing ITDMs agree that their organizations would benefit from having greater visibility into their networks and systems to identify performance or security risks. And 89% believe there should be more investment into performance and acceleration solutions that will help them to increase productivity and allow them to create the experiences that will attract more talent to the sector.

It’s encouraging that 92% of manufacturing ITDMs and 88% of BDMs agree and are committed to investing in new technologies to support a hybrid workforce during the next 12-18 months. Their top areas of technology investments will be:

  • Updating company-wide hybrid workplace strategies and policies (44%)
  • Investing in application or network acceleration solutions (38%)
  • Investing in end-user experience and digital experience monitoring solutions (35%)
  • Investing in cybersecurity technology and software (34%)
  • Better visibility of network and application performance (33%)

“In 2022, the manufacturing sector must move forward and take positive learnings from the last year of change. By implementing unified observability, full-fidelity visibility and acceleration technologies, they will be able to attract new talent, create new opportunities and build a productive and happy workforce, with hybrid at its core,” concludes Egenolf.

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