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How manufacturers can use real-time data to shape better business strategies
Tue, 20th Feb 2024

Inflation remains high across Australia, affecting businesses and individuals alike. While this is troubling news across the board, manufacturers will feel the full effects in multiple ways. The ripple effect of such a downturn extends beyond the cost of production and distribution to job security and even cash flow, among other critical business elements.

To remediate the flow-on effects of inflation on business success, manufacturers need to invest in more fluid and flexible business strategies. Using real-time data to inform business decisions is essential, and doubling down on investments in enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is crucial to achieving this, according to ECI Software Solutions.

While the value of investing in ERP solutions may seem like old, tired news to some, the reality is that business leaders continue to sing its praises for a reason. Modern businesses have access to a wealth of consumer and operational data at their fingertips, often housed in ERP systems they already have in their arsenal. However, not every business is using it effectively. And, when it comes to small manufacturing operations, some organisations still haven’t deployed ERP at all.

Real-time data arms decision-makers with the latest information across the business, facilitating a dynamic response to the ebbs and flows of market demand. ERP isn’t a new technology, but its importance has only increased with time. This means investing in an ERP system that provides immediate insights can help manufacturers get ahead of trends and even gain a first-mover advantage.

Real-time data transcends traditional monthly reports; instead, it lets business leaders keep their finger on the pulse at all times, detecting nuances and shifts as they happen. This immediacy can be transformative, empowering businesses to make nuanced adjustments in their operations, marketing, and product development in response to real-time feedback and conditions.

For example, data can reveal when certain product lines are underperforming, indicating the need for strategic discounts or marketing efforts. Alternatively, it might uncover that certain operational processes are drawing unnecessary funds. Integrating real-time data into every layer of an organisation ensures that the entire team is equipped to navigate and capitalise on these changes. In essence, using this information more proactively can help organisations to change their strategies to accommodate a shifting landscape, leading to more success, even in challenging economic environments.

Additionally, ERP solutions can empower different business streams to synchronise their efforts according to real-time data. When sales, supply chain, and customer service departments operate from a unified data stream, they can better coordinate their actions, leading to a more cohesive strategy that addresses the challenges of a retracting economy by optimising resource allocation, improving response times, and delivering a more consistent and satisfying customer experience. This integrated approach leads to more accurate forecasting, streamlined operations, and a proactive stance in adapting to market changes, ultimately enhancing overall business resilience and competitiveness.

However, using real-time information to adjust business strategy goes beyond making incremental changes as conditions change. Insights from real-time information empower businesses to create a more dynamic leadership culture that reacts swiftly and competitively to the market. This approach ensures that the organisation can survive present challenges while emerging stronger and more prepared to thrive in future disruptions.

It’s not uncommon to think that ERP is in decline; however, the value of ERP is alive and well. In fact, ERP could be the solution for many businesses, especially smaller manufacturing operations, when it comes to shaping future business strategies. Many modern businesses take ERP systems for granted when they ultimately have the power to deliver exceptional, future-focused business strategies that put data and dynamism at their core.

In a market defined by its flux, agility is invaluable. Organisations that have the right tools in their arsenal to harness real-time data will be poised to steer their strategies towards sustainable growth, regardless of market conditions. Real-time data provides a lens through which businesses can view themselves in isolation, as well as in relation to their competitors. Understanding market position in real time lets businesses craft strategies that are both defensive and proactive.

An ERP system is the central nervous system of an organisation, offering a detailed, at-a-glance view of operations that lets leaders pinpoint areas that require immediate attention, ensuring that resources are allocated efficiently and that underperforming segments are restructured or scaled down. In short, it can empower businesses to capitalise on opportunities instead of falling victim to unforeseen challenges.